MORGANTOWN — It’s the same thing every year.
Every year, for the first day of school, students filing into Phil Caskey’s classroom at University High School are warmly greeted by their teacher.
Who then proceeds to tell them he doesn’t care.
“That’s how we start it out every year,” the social studies teacher said, chuckling.
If you’re a student in Caskey’s class, he doesn’t care if you’re a bleeding-heart liberal Democrat or a hard-line conservative Republican.
He doesn’t care if you’re Independent, Green, Libertarian or down from the Mountain.
He doesn’t care if your favorite candidate comes from inside the Beltway or the outer fringe.
Once all that is dispensed, the teacher then tells the class what he does care about.
“I always say, ‘I don’t care who you vote for, I just care that you vote,’” he said. “I care that you get out there and celebrate the process.”
Caskey had 22,518 more reasons to care about and celebrate on Thursday.
That’s how many high seniors in West Virginia, to date, who have registered to vote.
Secretary of State Mac Warner made the announcement the day before in Morgantown, at a conference on election security issues that brought county clerks in from across the state.
Nearly 67,000 West Virginians, including those seniors, signed up to vote during an 18-month campaign which saw 140 registration drives across the state.
The campaign launched Jan. 16. 2017 and wrapped this past July 1.
Warner was especially heartened by the high school contingent.
“This is an incredible accomplishment,” he said, “and one that demonstrates our collective effort to give young people a voice in their state and local government.”
A total of 941 seniors registered in Monongalia County, according to numbers culled from Warner’s office.
Preston County had 346. Marion, Harrison and Taylor counties netted 709, 818 and 162 high school voters, respectively.
Other totals ranged from 2,079 high-schoolers in Kanawha County, to 60 in Wirt.
Caskey, meanwhile, encourages all new voters to school themselves on local politics and local candidates in particular, so they can make informed decisions in the voting booth.
“Your vote is your voice.”