CHESTER -- Eric Park didn't plan to rock Chester High School's student voters.
But when the 28-year-old teacher started asking his older students about registering to vote in January, he started a movement that has led to at least 79 signing up for their civic duty.
That's a lot considering only 143 Chester County people between the ages of 18 and 21 voted in the 2006 general election. Young voters have often been considered an elusive group, one that's not easily mobilized -- and one that doesn't go to the polls.
But this year young voters have played a key role in the presidential primaries, particularly for Democrat Barack Obama's campaign.
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Park knows this: "A guy like Obama in the race has piqued their interest," he said. But his effort to register young voters isn't about a specific candidate or party, although Park is the adviser to the high school's Young Democrats club.
"I'm a teacher before I'm an adviser to the Young Democrats," said the guy who teaches government, economics and current events.
His message is simple: If you're old enough, register to vote.
"He has encouraged them to get out and express ... their political beliefs," said Chester High principal Jeff Gardner. "He's got them all fired up."
Along with asking his students about voting, Park sent an e-mail to other teachers, telling them about what he was doing and sending them a link to voter registration forms. They started talking to their students about voting.
"It just sort of snowballed from there," Park said. "I was definitely happy for this kind of response."
The goal now is to register all Chester High students who are eligible to vote.
"I know not all of them will vote," Park said. "But they'll have the chance."
For Ebony McClurkin, an 18-year-old senior, registering to vote was a way for her to join political conversations with adults.
"I felt like I could speak my mind," said the Hillary Clinton supporter. "I can't make a change without being registered."
Wes Gladden, a senior who turns 18 today, said he was asked about registering to vote -- something he wanted to do -- in his health class.
"This opened my door for me," he said.
Although he hasn't decided who he'll vote for, Gladden said the slumping economy is a major concern. He said he'll vote so he can "have a little bit of a say so in what goes on in my country."
Xavier Mayfield, another 18-year-old senior, also hasn't picked a candidate.
But his mother told him why he should vote. If he doesn't vote, he said, "when I get older, I can't really complain about what's going on."
Perhaps Park's greatest hope for his students is that their political involvement will extend beyond November's election. He'd like to see an increased interest in local affairs.
He wants them to have a voice.
"Why would a politician focus on issues related to them if they're not even voting?" he asked.