Election experience for local students

Civix vote in Columbia River-Revelstoke gives students chance to learn about the way an election works

Students from across the Columbia Valley got a hands-on look at democracy last week.

A province-wide program, run through a Canadian civic education charity known as Civix, encourages students to participate in a student vote program. The votes are recorded across the province and reflect who students would vote for if given the chance. Students from multiple area schools took part in the mock election, including David Thompson Secondary School, J.A. Laird, Edgewater and Windermere Elementary schools.

At Windermere Elementary School (WES), Principal Bendina Miller, the student’s social studies teacher, had prepped the grades 3-7 classes on what happens in a vote, what it means, and what to look at when deciding how to vote.

Mrs. Stewart-Frank’s grade 4/5 class at WES was one of the participating classes. On Monday, May 8, students filed into the library, curious and carefully-prepared to cast their vote.

“Your vote is very important,” Mrs. Miller emphasized to the students. “Even though you won’t be counted, I can tell you the people elected to the B.C. Legislature will pay close attention to the student vote. People who are politicians want to know the opinions of the youth of this province.”

The children took turns filling official roles needed in an election and all had the opportunity to vote.

Reece Mose said she learned in the process how important it is to vote. She said she decided who to vote for after talking it over with her parents, and studying the paper from Mrs. Miller with all the candidate’s promises.

“That was really helpful,” said Reece. “It was really fun, and to know that the candidates would know [who we voted for], it’s nice to know we’re being listened to.”

Student Virginia Denchuk said she prepared for the election by doing her own research.

“I was looking at what each person wanted– their platform, and I would write that down,” Virginia explained. “My parents were talking a lot about it; my parents helped me.”

Nikolai Hansen decided who to vote for based on knowing the candidate personally and that, “he is really nice and was my ski instructor.”

A grade 4/5 class at J.A. Laird also took part in the lesson on democracy. Teacher Jessie King took her class on a field trip to the Invermere voting centre at the curling rink. They counted the number of election signs on the way to the centre and discussed how that may or may not have an impact on people’s voting choices. King had brought her voter’s card with her and she was allowed to take the students through the process of her voting.

“They were pretty excited to watch me vote and to see other people vote,” says King.

King had printed out the party’s platforms and biographies of the candidates. They spent time in small groups figuring out what the key information was and then presenting it to the class, identifying collectively what they thought was important.

More than 170,000 elementary and high school students participated in the Civix election prior to the provincial election held Tuesday, May 9. Provincially, John Horgan and the NDP won a majority government. In the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding, schools across the electoral district elected Samson Boyer of the Green Party with 32.79 per cent of the vote. For more results break-down, including a look at how each school voted, see www.studentvote.ca