Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Students at three Queens County elementary and high schools were among more than 10,000 students across Nova Scotia taking place in the Student Vote program for the province's 2020 municipal elections.
On October 15 and 16 students at Liverpool Regional High School, South Queens Junior High and North Queens Community School participated in the instructional program.
Elsewhere in the region, students were also voting at some schools in the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, including West Northfield Elementary School, Aspotogan Consolidated Elementary School, Pentz Elementary School and Bluenose Academy.
A total of 145 schools in the province participated in the program, which is run by the national-registered charity, CIVIX. The group is dedicated to building the skills and habits of an active and engaged citizenship among young Canadians. The program is funded by the Government of Canada.
Liverpool Regional High School, one of the schools participating, consists of about 275 students from Grades 9 to 12. The school held its vote on the morning of October 15, with students in the Grade 9 Citizenship class running the election.
Teacher Claudine LeBlanc has led the program for last year's federal election and this year's municipal election.
"My Grade 9s ran the vote and they were pretty excited to do this. It's not often they would take a leadership role in a high school where they are the youngest. But it falls in so well with their curriculum that it just made sense for them to take the lead on this," said LeBlanc.
"It was a real, hands-on learning experience for them. They were, like, 'I can't believe we did all that.' They took their roles really serious and they rolled through everything with no problems," she added.
Two weeks prior to the vote, LeBlanc began talking about government with the students, looking at the differences between the various levels, the roles of social media and election workers, and explaining what platforms are.
On October 14, the whole school took some class time to learn about the municipal election, the districts they live in and the candidates they are voting for.
Grade 9 student Grace Currie was a poll clerk at the election, and says her role was to get the voters' names, cross them off the list, and explain what district they are voting in and how to use the ballot.
She admitted not knowing a lot about elections, but says this was a worthwhile exercise.
"I think it's definitely important to know about elections for later in life when you can actually vote," she said.
As a teacher, LeBlanc agreed.
"I think it's such a worthwhile project for the kids to engage in democracy, and also so they don't have fear when they do go to vote," she said. "I just love doing it and can't say enough good things about the whole process."
Results of the schools' elections were scheduled to be released to the students on the morning of October 19.