Today we participated in Rep Day with MP Dan Albas coming in to the school to talk to a grade 8 and a grade 9 class. I am always nervous about having a guest presenter in the classroom. I worry that the presenter won't show up. I worry that maybe he/she will need something that I haven't thought about. I am, of course, also nervous about my students. Truth be told, I am more nervous about my students than I am about the presenter. A Monday morning presentation about life as a MP - what was I thinking? Will my students embarrass me? Will they behave? Will they ask interesting questions? Will they remember anything that they have been taught?
All my worrying was for naught. I knew that Dan Albas would be a great presenter as I had the opportunity to listen to him speak to students last year. Indeed, his presentation was great. Dan spoke passionately about his role as a MP and invited students to interrupt him at any time with questions, which they did. Phew. He also made sure he asked them to participate, by show of hands, to a series of questions which ensured that even the most quiet or shy students took part in the presentation.
What I love about Rep Day is that it brings politics to the students. For us in the Okanagan, Victoria is distant and Ottawa is simply worlds away. Suddenly, students can listen and talk to their Member of Parliament and hear not only what he does while in Ottawa but also what he does while he is home (and the amount of time he spends flying between the two). In the span of an hour, we talked about everything from how a bill becomes a law, to provincial and federal jurisdictions to what's being done about invasive species in the Okanagan.
I hope that these students were really listening to that one message that flowed throughout Dan's presentation: that Canada is an incredible democracy and it is important for Canadians to be involved and vote. If the students didn't hear it today, they will be hearing about the importance of democracy and voting a lot in the run up to the October 19th federal election and our own school's Student Vote.
A big thank you to Dan Albas for coming in to the school and talking to teenagers on a Monday morning. Also, a big thank you to CIVIX Canada for organizing and coordinating the event. If you would like more information about the programs that CIVIX offers, such as Rep Day and Student Vote, check out their website here