Schools in Clinton, Fort Madison are recognized for voter registration efforts

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, center, presented Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton with a Carrie Chapman Catt Award trophy last month. Pictured are members of the senior class and principal Joe Brown, left.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Seniors at Holy Trinity Junior/Senior High School prepared for the Iowa caucuses by choosing their favorite Disney Villain Party candidate. During the election simulation, students from the Fort Madison school could vote for Scar, Cruella DeVille, Ursula, Jafar, Maleficent or Captain Hook. “Some of the students weren’t as familiar with some of the villains, which made it a little more realistic in my opinion,” social studies teacher Emily Kelch said.

The students also prepared for the caucuses by registering to vote. “We talked a lot about voter advocacy and voting as being one of the opportunities for our voices to be heard,” Kelch said.

Scar came out on top, and so did the students. The Iowa Secretary of State’s office recently recognized Holy Trinity with the Carrie Chapman Catt Award for achieving 90% voter registration among eligible seniors.


Holy Trinity is one of two schools in the Davenport Diocese to earn Carrie Chapman Catt awards from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office this year. Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton received its trophy from Secretary Paul Pate during an assembly in January and Holy Trinity has a tentative award ceremony scheduled later this month. The award is named for Chapman Catt, a national women’s suffrage movement leader who was born in Iowa.

State law allows 17-year-old Iowans to register to vote. They can also participate in primary elections if they will be 18 years old in time for the Nov. 5 general election. The Catholic Church encourages participation in public life as a way to contribute to the nation’s common good and the flourishing of its people. The Church does not support or oppose any candidate but seeks to focus attention on the moral and human dimensions of issues (

Prince of Peace Principal Joe Brown is a former state senator. He is passionate about encouraging people to exercise their right to vote — a value passed down from his father, a World War II veteran. “Whenever someone would gripe, he’d ask, ‘Well, did you vote in the last election?’” Brown has taken this message to heart by participating in every major election since 1972, the year he turned 18.

Brown viewed the Carrie Chapman Catt Award as a good opportunity to educate seniors about their role in the democratic process. He offered students a recent example of why every vote counts: in 2020, Iowa Democrat Rita Hart lost to Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks by six votes for U.S. Representative.

Brown invited Clinton County Auditor Eric VanLancker to talk to seniors and help them register to vote. Every Iowan in the class did so and a third of the class chose to participate in the Iowa caucuses last month. Many chose to meet the candidates ahead of time, Brown told The Catholic Messenger.

One Clinton senior — Nicholas Mateos — served as a poll worker during local elections last year. “My generation, we are the future,” Mateos told The Catholic Messenger. “I think our voices need to be heard; we’re going to be responsible for a lot of what goes on (in the future).” 

Still time to enter

Schools can report senior class voting numbers on the Secretary of State’s website,, through March 22. Schools with at least 90% of eligible seniors registered to vote will earn a trophy and a mention on the Secretary of State’s website. Schools that register 50% and 70% of their eligible students will be recognized also.

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