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TDChristian hosts all-candidates meeting

Written on October 10th, 2008

Event serves as an opportunity to open school doors to the broader community

Toronto District Christian High School (TDChristian) hosted an all-candidates meeting for the Vaughan riding Oct. 6 and welcomed 120 people from the Woodbridge community into the school to hear from the local candidates in the upcoming federal election.

The school partnered with a local newspaper, The Vaughan Today, to organize the event.

Justin De Moor, TDChristian’s vice-principal of communications, says it was exciting to have the opportunity to partner with the paper. The city editor was the event’s moderator, and has in the past covered news at the school which helped people know about the school’s presence in the community, says De Moor.

“People from Woodbridge who had no idea (about TDChristian) started seeing it in the local papers,” says De Moor, adding that the coverage strengthens community.

De Moor says the event was a unique opportunity to invite people from outside the school community into the building.

“A lot of people that walked in said something very complimentary about the school or they had some questions about it,” he says.

Green Party candidate Adrian Visentin, Liberal incumbent Maurizio Bevilacqua, NDP candidate Vicky Wilkin, and Conservative candidate Richard Lorello took part in the meeting, which De Moor describes as “dynamic.”

TDChristian students from the civics class were involved in the preparation and running of the meeting. Two students helped form and ask the questions and two other students were time keepers.

Civics teacher Mark Fluit says civics came alive for some of the students.

“The experience is invaluable. (The students) get a sense of the debates and it is much more engaging live rather than on the televised debates,” says Fluit.

Students in the environmental block course were also strongly encouraged to attend as part of their course and some students asked the candidates questions.

De Moor says while the environment may have been a hot topic six months ago, given the current economic concerns there wouldn’t have been much discussion about the issue without the students’ questions, which included why there are no recycling bins in city parks and why the recycling program is not more advanced.

Student David DeVries took part in the meeting, and says he learned about what is involved in a debate, from writing questions to the role of the moderator.

“I found the meeting an interesting debate and I think that it may affect what happens in the Vaughan riding, because issues were discussed,” says DeVries, adding he thinks other schools should host this type of event.