Civic engagement in schools

October 27, 2015 - 4 minutes read
All Candidates Meeting in progress at Ecole Pauline Johnson.

All Candidates Meeting at Ecole Pauline Johnson.

By Carolyn Broady, Board Chair

One of the areas of focus in our schools is to prepare and encourage students to become engaged citizens. Some people, particularly those who were born in an era where civic engagement was much stronger, think that this is an area where schools could do more to engage our young people. However, I’m pleased to report that in West Vancouver Schools, we value and encourage this aspect of student learning along with our supporting various areas including academics, inquiry-based learning, athletics, the arts and social emotional learning.

With the recent federal election still top of mind, I’d like to pick up on the topic of civic engagement– not just with respect to the election, but with activities that take place throughout the year to help students connect with our community and learn the value of public service.

Local, provincial and federal elections provide enormous opportunities for our children to learn about the political system in Canada and around the world, and in our schools, teachers and parents have brought the election alive over the last several weeks. Earlier this month, students in Grades 4-7 at École Pauline Johnson organized and hosted an all-candidates meeting for our local federal candidates, inviting parents and local media to the event. Despite the fact that these young constituents were not old enough to vote, it was wonderful to see that three of the four candidates in West Vancouver, Sea to Sky Country attending and working with our students. For further information you can read the attached articles in the Vancouver Sun (covered on page 2 of the print edition) and the North Shore News. A similar all-party debate was held at Rockridge Secondary School.

As well, each of our schools hosted a parallel student vote to give students an opportunity to weigh in on what they hear at home, in our schools and throughout our community. While this federal election saw a steady increase in voter turnout, it’s important that we continue to encourage the voices of our younger citizens so that their concerns are heard by those who exercise the democratic levers of influence at each level of government. We are fortunate to have civic, provincial and federal representatives regularly connecting with our students.

While elections provide a wonderful opportunity for learning, engaging students in the world outside the school walls is one of the things that makes West Vancouver such an exceptional place to learn. This past week, hundreds of students took part in the annual We Day event at Rogers Arena. Grade seven teacher, Cari Wilson, and Ridgeview were profiled in the Vancouver Sun story that followed the event. Tickets are not sold for We Day, but earned by students who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to service both locally and abroad.

Throughout the year, West Vancouver students and teachers work daily to build authentic links within our community and beyond, supporting groups and organizations working to make the world a better place. While the list of organizations that are supported by our schools is extensive, examples include Cops for Cancer, food bank and clothing drives, as well as school partnerships like the connection between Sentinel Secondary and Admiral Seymour in Vancouver.