They’ve only been back to class for two weeks.
But in those 10 days in the classroom, Grade 4-to-7 students at Vernon’s Mission Hill Elementary have been talking politics leading up to the federal election vote Monday, Sept. 20.
“We discuss things for about an hour a day,” said teacher Chad Soon in his classroom of Grade 5 and 6 students Monday afternoon. “The kids’ reactions have been particularly interesting because they’re hearing discussions at home. It’s good for them to learn about each leader, each candidate, and about important issues like reconciliation, the economy, and climate change.”
On Voting Day, the students watched an introduction to voting video, then went through the voting process, checking a ballot with the names of the five North Okanagan Shuswap riding candidates in private, then stuffing their ballot into the official voting box in front of the watchful eyes of polling clerk Devon Tyssen, the school principal.
“It’s important to learn because when you’re older you will know what voting is like and make an informed decision,” said Grade 6 student Nealla Carson, participating in her first student vote. “Whoever they vote for will affect Canada.”
Soon said a total of 96 votes were cast among Grade 4-7 students Monday, with incumbent Mel Arnold of the Conservative Party coming out on top. Arnold garnered 27 votes or 28.13 per cent to beat Ron Johnston of the NDP by seven votes. Shelley Desautels of the Liberals came third with 19 votes and Kyle Delfing of the People’s Party of Canada and Andrea Gunner of the Green Party tied for fourth with 15 votes each.
A total of 25 elementary, middle and secondary schools in the Vernon and North Okanagan-Shuswap school districts participated in Student Vote. Arnold won 12 schools, Gunner topped the polls at six schools, Johnston claimed top spot at four schools, Delfing won two and Desautels took one.