Friday, 9 October 2015

Student Vote part one

My colleague, Ryan Holly, and I have wrapped a tiring but very rewarding week at school. Back in August the two of us sat down with our administrators and described what we wanted to do for the month of October: we wanted to spend one week with everyone in the school studying government and politics in preparation for our October 19th Student Vote. We also wanted to have an all candidates forum so that the students not only learned about the federal election but also experienced an actual political event.

Ryan and I knew that we were dreaming big but if you've met us, you know that we are political science geeks and very passionate about promoting civic education. We also knew that Student Vote and Civix would be providing a series of lessons for us to draw from. That being said, Ryan and I are both A type personalities and we were determined to create the best lessons to fit the students of CNB.

In the end we were pleased with the lessons we created and we received a lot of positive feedback from teachers. We were cognizant of the fact that not every teacher is comfortable teaching politics and made sure the lesson plans utilized Powerpoints and informative videos to alleviate any stress. What was causing a great deal of stress for Ryan and I was the all candidates forum we had planned for Thursday morning.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, it is always nerve wracking to have guests in the building. Questions starting swirling like: will the guests show up on time or will the students behave? We booked the gym Wednesday night in order to set up but things happen and it is hard to keep people out of the CNB gym. On Thursday morning, the day of the all candidates forum, I peered into the gym at 8:30 to see a volleyball practice in full swing and nothing set up. All I can say is that my colleagues are incredible as that gym was transformed in 20 minutes, complete with microphones for each of the speakers, a curtain backdrop behind the staging, and teacher chairs (complete with name tags) set up at the end of each row.

The candidates forum itself was fabulous. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by the behaviour of the CNB student body as they listened intently and tried to restrain from clapping at the end of each and every response. I also greatly appreciated the candidates who took recognized their audience and spoke to the students about issues that matter to them. All four candidates (Dan Albas, Conservative; Robert Mellalieu, Green; Karley Scott, Liberal; Angelique Wood, NDP) from the Central Okanagan - Similkameen - Nicola riding attended. Each of the candidates spoke very eloquently and, most importantly, spoke highly of each other. After the forum, the candidates had some time to talk to students in the library which was an incredible opportunity - for both the candidates and the students.

We can't wait to see how the students vote on Oct 19th and compare our school vote to the outcome of the actual vote for the riding. I know Ryan and I are happy with how engaged the students have been in Student Vote but we both dream big and hope that these students will be engaged in politics and vote when they become adults.


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