Which representatives got the votes of Hope’s students was a closely guarded secret until polls closed on Saturday.
Students at both Coquihalla and Silver Creek elementary schools were sworn to secrecy, lest the results of the vote influence their parents or relatives who are doing the real voting today. Both schools ran their own mock elections Thursday, Oct. 18, through the Student Vote program.
Now that the real winners have been chosen, it is safe to disclose the results of Hope’s youth vote. And some candidates who may be licking their wounds after the adults’ election, may be comforted by the support they received from Hope’s young citizens.
Wilfried Vicktor triumphed by one vote in the Coquihalla election to re-take the mayor’s seat, along with councillors John Duff, Sharlene Hinds, Scott Medlock, Steven Patterson, Dusty Smith and Victor Smith.
At Silver Creek, Wilfried Vicktor was also re-elected Mayor, together with councillors John Duff, Bob Erickson, Scott Medlock, Steven Patterson, Dusty Smith and Victor Smith.
Students also voted for school trustees, with Coquihalla students electing John Koopman, Heather Stewin and Wilfried Vicktor. At Silver Creek, John Koopman, Gary Lewis and Lori Izawa reigned.
Voting day Oct. 18 was the culmination of a lot of learning about federal, provincial and municipal politics, reading up on each candidate and their platforms through the newspaper and online research. Grade 5 teacher at Coquihalla Donna Kneller said a good portion was spent learning new words such as incumbent, infrastructure and other tough vocabulary.
“I think the best part was when we were reading the newspaper about each of the candidates and the students had their opinions about various candidates,” Kneller said.
“One example was a candidate for councillor said he wanted box stores. And many of my students were very opposed to that because they felt that all of the other smaller stores that were in Hope would then shut down. So they were aghast that (the candidate) had said that that’s what they wanted.”
Then voting day commenced. All students in Grades 4 to 6 at Coquihalla elementary got to vote.
“Students in my class were each given a job to do to represent a real election. So we had a classroom set up as three polling stations. Each student got a chance to vote and cast their ballot and put it in the ballot box. At the end of the day we did the tally and came up with the results, which are secret until eight o’clock, closing of the polls on Saturday,” Kneller said.
Students used different methods to choose their elected representatives, ranging from their own background research, to guessing to picking names they liked. Very much like a real election.
Then Kneller’s Grade 5 class dutifully filled in results sheets as name after name was read out. It was a slow and arduous process to get the votes counted, the last part of their full day of organizing the vote in their school.
This was an opportunity for learning as well, as students learned about spoiled ballots and how voters can be picky about which elections they vote in and how many candidates, if any, they vote for.
A group of Grade 5 students gathered after election day to share their thoughts on the process. The most fun, they agreed, was when they got to sit and chit chat during the voting process. The least fun was waiting for the voters to complete their ballot.
Kneller said although the class is a little behind on the curriculum because of the amount of learning they’ve done leading up to the student vote, she said it is an important exercise.
“We did talk about that it’s really important that people vote if they want change or if they want a say in government…and every vote counts, it makes a difference. And so the kids were quite excited to have this opportunity to vote and they’re excited they can vote when they turn 18,” she said.
Silver Creek’s elementary school also ran a vote Thursday. Students across B.C. schools had a chance to do the same this week, in an initiative organized by Student Vote.
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