King George VI students to vote in mock city council election (GALLERY)

King George VI Grade 4/5 students (left to right) Nancy Williams and Meghan Lambert show they're excited to vote in a mock municipal election. October 21, 2022 Image courtesy of Susan Shaw.

Students in a Grade 4/5 class at King George VI Elementary School in Sarnia have spent the past few weeks learning about the candidates running in the municipal election and about the electoral process.

The school is one of 23 in Sarnia-Lambton participating in the Student Vote program, run by CIVIX, a charity dedicated to strengthening democracy through civic education.

Teacher Susan Shaw told Sarnia News Today the Grade 5 social studies curriculum covers the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship, including the right to vote, and her students have been excited to learn about the process.

“We’ve been playing the roles of the different candidates and acting out some of the issues that have been debated,” said Shaw. “We’ve been watching the debates and we’ve been doing research. We’ve been reading newspaper articles as well.”

Shaw said her students have talked to their parents about issues that are important to their family and they’re really eager to root for the candidates that they support.

“We’ve been focusing on the mayoral candidates this week and talking about the issues. They drew a name out of a hat last week and their job was to research one thing that a candidate for city, or city/county council had done. Just a fact about their experience and something they promised they would do if elected.”

Shaw said with so many candidates running, the class divided them up to learn about them.

In the past, she said she’s invited candidates to speak to her class afterward.

“Following [a previous] municipal election, I had one of the candidates who had run come in and talk about what that experience was like campaigning and participating in the process.”

Through the Student Vote program, schools receive a variety of non-partisan education materials to teach about government and the election process, including ballots, ballot boxes and voting screens to carry out a mock vote on or before election day.

“We go through the procedure, showing ID and having a scrutineer, filling out the ballot and putting it in the box, and counting them afterwards,” said Shaw. “So, that’s a lot of fun for the kids.”

Nearly 2,000 Ontario schools are participating in the program this October and close to 150,000 students are expected to cast ballots.

This is the fourth Student Vote program to be held in conjunction with an Ontario municipal and school board election.

Results will be tabulated and released after the polls close at 8 p.m. on Monday, October 24.