As Ontarians head to the polls today to vote in the provincial election, students at Toronto District Christian High School (TDChristian) took part in their own vote yesterday.
Of the school’s 450 students, 410 cast a ballot in a vote the Grade 10 civics class organized, says principal Ren Siebenga. The most popular party the students voted for was the Progressive Conservatives, coming in at 49.3 per cent.
The school’s simulated polls were just one way TDChristian has been engaging in the election. Last week, the school held a Vaughan provincial candidates meeting.
The candidates meeting, held Oct. 2, was a way for students to see how elections are run and is a service to the community, says Siebenga.
Representatives from all four major political parties were invited to attend, but in the end the two MPP’s who participated were from the Progressive Conservative party and the New Democratic Party.
The questions for the candidates meeting were composed by students at the school and covered six different areas, including transportation, electoral reform, health care and education.
“I like it when our students get involved, I like to give them a platform and a forum where they can contribute, and they did,” says Siebenga. A Grade 12 student asked the candidates the questions, while other students participated as timekeepers.
Siebenga says the meeting, which lasted for two hours, was a relaxed discussion with opportunity for people from the floor to participate.
There were about 80 community members in attendance. “There was lots of dialogue with the audience,” he says.
TDChristian put together a document called Fairness for Faith-based Education in Ontario. The education and action piece is available on the school’s website.
The document includes information on faith-based schools and how they contribute to the province’s “educational enterprise.”
Siebenga said students at TDChristian are being prepared not in a “Christian bubble” but to take their place in the world as shapers in a wide range of endeavours.
“Our faith-based schools are inclusive, life-embracing, community-oriented, respectful and responsible. Faith-based schools are partners in Ontario’s education enterprise, and are creative contributors to public education for the common good,” the document states.
The document urges citizens to contact their local candidates and party leaders about the need for fairness for faith-based education, and gives a sample letter to send.
Siebenga says 217 people used this letter to send to candidates, many of these people sending several letters.
TDChristian is a member of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS). For more information on election issues, see the OACS information bulletins.