Purple and white streamers hung from the ceiling of the gym at Laura Jeffrey Academy this morning — the colors of the Suffragette movement, which won women the right to vote 96 years ago.
A hundred and fifty middle schoolers took their seats on the gym floor. Some were bouncing on their heels. A few wiped at tears. Phoebe Kirchner, 11, had a "Free Hugs" sign taped to her shirt, and she was doling them out.
"He cheated!" one girl called in the crowd.
"No, he didn't," another corrected her.
Laura Jeffrey Academy is a girl-focused public charter school in St. Paul: More than 96 percent of the student body are girls. The hallways are lined with portraits of pioneering women in science, technology and other fields.
In the last few weeks, the presidential election has been a key part of the curriculum. The students held their own mock election yesterday: Hillary Clinton swept it with 69 percent of the vote.
• Full coverage: Election 2016
But that's not how things rolled out across the country Tuesday night. Lauryn Allotey, 12, stayed up late to watch the results, and finally fell asleep around midnight. She insisted that her mom wake her up as soon as the race was called. Her mom came into her room at 2 a.m. to tell her that the TV was calling it for Donald Trump.
Allotey and her classmates aren't old enough to vote — and they won't be old enough for the next presidential election in 2020 either — but they have plenty of opinions about the 2016 election, and why the country has still not elected a woman president.
"I was pretty disappointed," Allotey said. "But we were close, and it was good that we made progress."
Gathered in the gym under the streamers, Allison Stapley, the school's Director of Education, addressed the crowd.
"We rallied behind the hope that we'd have a woman in the White House," she said. "And yet, here we are. It's not this time around. We had hope, now more than ever, that the glass ceiling would crash. The fact that it didn't only shows us how much more work we have to do."
The girls cheered when they heard of the victory that made Ilhan Omar the first Somali-American to ever be elected to a state legislature. They cheered to hear that more women had been elected to the U.S. Senate than ever before.
"I want you to feel fired up. You are the future," Stapley said. "There's a seat in the Oval Office that has yet to be filled by someone like us, and that's a goal for you."