Mayfair students win national student voter registration challenge, earns celebration from Michelle Obama

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- High school students in the city's Mayfair section will be celebrating at a virtual prom Friday. It may not have been the way they imagined their big night, but it's how they got invited that makes it truly special.

They earned it by getting their peers to register to vote. Abraham Lincoln High School's entire senior class got involved in MTV's "When We All Vote" prom challenge. It was a competition they took seriously.

"I want you to know that you all are winners, congrats!" said former First Lady Michelle Obama, who surprised the winners of MTV's "When We All Vote" prom challenge on Zoom.

"It definitely felt amazing getting the former First Lady to say 'Congratulations,' and really tell us how important this was," said Christ Pirgu, a junior.

Among the 20 national schools in the winners' circle, Abraham Lincoln High School in Northeast Philadelphia successfully registered 65% of eligible students to vote.

"That is really something to be proud of," said Andrew Amore, the director of My School Votes. "It's very impressive."

The students also accomplished it against the odds. "For some of our students, they're the first people in their entire family that are voters, because voting doesn't have a great stigma," said Denise Magasich, a marketing teacher at Lincoln High School.

Lincoln High School has roughly 2,000 students from 47 countries. Their goal in this campaign is to break that stigma.

"Hey, we get your parents don't want to vote, but I think you might be the reason that our future is going to change," says Doha Ibrahim, a senior.

The students got the word out through birthday cards and goody bags for students turning 18-years-old.

"We would write, 'Happy Almost Turning 18,'" said Pirgu. "That means that you will be able to register to vote and you will be able to exercise your right to vote."

Each winning school gets $5,000. Lincoln will use that money to keep this campaign rolling.

Some of the signatures they're getting are their own. "This is my first time voting since I turned 18 before this all started, and I actually got registered in Lincoln," says Jayla Salvatierra, a senior.

MTV's Prom-a-Thon starts Friday at 9 p.m. The students are excited for it, but also beaming with pride at what they have been able to accomplish.
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