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Election campaign stokes student interest

Susan Catling
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (June 18/04) - They may be too young for the real thing, but not too young to vote in practise.

Student Vote 2004 was developed by a team of teachers across the nation to give students the opportunity to actually play a role in major elections.

The program introduces the importance of voting in elections as well as puts the younger generation in the eye of the politicians, giving youth the upper hand to get their issues and goals recognized.

"It's a teachable moment," says Grade 6 teacher Monna Morrow of taking advantage of current events.

These kids are paying attention.

"Voting for the candidate who will address the issues of creating more help for single parents and bringing the cost of childcare down is very important," said Kaija Green, a Grade 6 student at the Weledeh Catholic School.

"I think we need a better budget for education and health issues," said Michael Bourget, a Weledeh Catholic school student.

Paige McDonald, a St. Pat's high school student, thinks the student vote is a good way to get students informed about how the election process works.

"I think it is really important for students to know what to do at election time and make informed choices on who to vote for," McDonald said.

Another student at St. Pat's high school, Kirsten Gauthiu, observed this: "With election day coming up soon and the whole sponsorship scandal, I think that it is good to educate students what politics is all about and to bring up the low number of younger generation voters."

"This is a good idea for the students to know how the election works so when it is time to vote in the real election, just any box would not be ticked off," Theri Petak said.

Petak is a Grade 10 student at Sir John Franklin high school.

At Mildred Hall school, Grade 8 teacher Jackie Humphreys divided her class into separate parties.

"Each party will go around class to class and inform the other students and try to get their votes. The winning party will get to have a little celebration in the end," Humphreys said.

"The students are studying and voicing their opinion on issues such as same sex marriage, health care, aboriginal issues, the legalization of marijuana, and the environment," Humphreys said.

"I think this is a really good idea because before I did not know much about the election and politics," said Arronn Callas, 13, a Mildred Hall student, who was working for the Liberal Party.

Students did their part in the mock election held at St. Pat's high school on Monday.

Results of the mock elections held in the four schools will be released after the June 28 federal election.