Parents hope their children will inherit their values. When it comes to politics, that seems to be happening. At least, that's what I saw at Valparaiso's Thomas Jefferson Middle School during last week's mock election.

Michael Nowarita voted for Donald Trump.

"I've watched a lot of debates and stuff, and that's who I felt most comfortable voting for," Nowarita said. "I like what he wants to do for the country and what he stands for."

Nowarita's family has talked a lot about the election, which shouldn't come as a surprise.

"We talk about it a lot with my grandma," he said.

Micah Nathan voted for, in effect, none of the above.

"I voted for one of the independent people. I don't know who it was," he said. Nathan couldn't remember the name until I tossed out first Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, and then Gary Johnson, the Libertarian.

"Neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton are the best choice at all," he said.

Nathan didn't know anything about Johnson, he said. "I just assume he's better than the other one."

"Donald Trump calls names and is really rude to people," and the Clinton email scandal concerns him.

Paiton Iliff voted for Donald Trump. "Coming from home, like, my parents always say that Hillary Clinton is a liar and a hypocrite," Iliff said. "Just being at home, and my Dad being yeah, whatever, I just don't agree with what Hillary has said and what she has hid and not told us about things that have happened."

As for Trump, "I know he has said some things, you know, and all, but I don't even know who the other two were," Iliff said. 

Joseph Ferrandino said his parents didn't influence his vote. He said he thinks for himself.

Ferrandino chose Clinton because of her government experience. "One selling point was that she actually knew what she was talking about," Ferrandino said, while Trump made statements that weren't factual.

John Young voted for Donald Trump and put his "I voted" sticker on his cheek. "I just had a feeling because he kept just talking truth, and I had a feeling inside," he said.

Meg Calumpang chose Donald Trump because of his opinions. "The way he explains them are not really the best, but yeah, I agree with him." 

Bekah Meyer said her parents tends to side with Republicans, "so if I didn't know really anybody on the ballot, and I didn't recognize any names, I went more with the Republican Party because that's who I identify with."

That parental influence and discussion of political values is what eighth-grade social studies teacher Molly Joll wants to happen.

"Especially at the middle school and elementary school age, those kinds of views should be started at home. We'll look at the issues. I'll show you how to look at them, how to discern for yourself, but for me to tell you who I'm voting for, that's an undue influence," Joll said.

Joll said her lessons include looking at the debates and the issues involved.

"We told them to be aware of bias," she said.

She's careful not to reveal her own beliefs, telling her students that when they're seniors in high school, and have voted, they can come back and ask her how she voted. A few have taken her up on that offer. She has taught for 30 years.

The students used a Vote Smart tool to see which candidate most reflected their views on the issues, and the students often matched up with the independents — Stein or Johnson.

"But when you look at the results, when they voted, they didn't vote for that third-party candidate. They stuck with the traditional Republicans and Democrats for the most part," Joll said. 

The students talk about the candidates, issues and outcome of the mock election in class, but they aren't obligated to say how they voted. Joll and her fellow teachers at the middle school made sure the students' votes were anonymous and couldn't be traced back to individuals.

"That is part of our democracy, that your vote is your vote," Joll said.

On Tuesday night, barring any unforeseen difficulties, we'll find out who wins the popular vote and who will win the Electoral College vote.

Here are the results of the mock election at Thomas Jefferson Middle School:

A total of 581 votes were cast. Some of the students aren't U.S. citizens and wouldn't be able to vote as adults, but they voted in the mock election as a learning experience.

Clinton won with 277 votes; Trump, 220; Johnson, 48; Stein, 36.

We have a couple more days to see whether the national results mirror the ones at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

Porter/LaPorte Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or Doug.Ross@nwi.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/doug.ross1 and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinions are the writer's.

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Porter/LaPorte Editor Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.