Election comes to life for Chestermere students

    Student Vote_B1J9005

    East Lake School students work as returning officers for the student vote at the school. The student vote program that saw students casting unofficial votes for the municipal election. Photo by Jeremy Broadfield

    Although their votes didn’t influence the results of the election, Students across Chestermere got to cast a vote as part of Student Vote Alberta.
    “I think it’s good because then we know how it works when we are adults and can actually vote,” said East Lake School Grade 6 student Evon Pattison.
    Grade 6 students in Alberta learn about democracy and the right to vote as part of the curriculum.
    With the municipal election this year tying into the curriculum, students have spent time researching the election candidates platforms and preparing reports on their platforms.
    “There’s some people that are really focused and really actually want to make our town better,” said grade 6 student Shae O’Brien of the slate of candidates who ran in the election.
    She said there were also candidates who didn’t seem to be focused on the big issues facing Chestermere.
    Both students have really enjoyed the time they’ve spent learning about the candidates and the election process.
    “It’s been really cool,” said Pattison.
    While the grade 6 class has been studying the election, the grade 7 to 9 classes who also had a vote weren’t as informed going in.
    Because of this neither O’Brien or Pattison expected that their results would be very close to the actual election.
    While the Mayoral winner in the actual election and the student vote were the same the rest of the results bore little resemblance.
    In the student vote, Marshall Chalmers won the Mayoral race with 43 per cent of the vote. Khaleel Bhatti had 17 per cent, Jeff Hodgson had 16 per cent, Ryan Roch had 15 per cent, and Ray Blanchard had one per cent.
    In the actual election, Chalmers won with a commanding lead, followed by Hodgson, Roch, Bhatti and Blanchard.
    The students elected a council consisting of Michelle Young, Amy Taylor, Laurie Bold, Tommy Fleger, Mel Foat and Anna Kardash were elected to council.
    Young and Foat were the only candidates to also be elected to the new city council.
    Shali Baziuk won as Rocky View Schools Trustee in both the student and actual election.
    Based on the projects and discussions of her students, East Lake School teacher Christina Van Den Eynden said she wasn’t surprised that Marshall Chalmers won as Mayor in the Student vote.
    She was surprised that it wasn’t a tighter race between Chalmers and Hodgson though.
    “The class was split there when they researched,” she said.
    “I think Khaleel came out higher because I know his daughters go here so I’m thinking a lot of votes came from the older kids.”
    The councilors were also mostly as she expected although Anna Kardash and Laurie Bold were a surprise since the students didn’t do much research on Kardash and weren’t impressed with Bold’s performance at the All Candidates Forum.
    Van Den Eynden said that getting the students to participate in programs like Student Vote Alberta helps to gets kids engaged in politics at a young age.
    “When they grow up to be adults they’ll be more likely to vote,” she said.
    The ability to study and be involved with the municipal election has helped bring the curriculum to life for the students.
    “They’re super engaged in this project,” said Van Den Eynden.
    She said that a lot of the students have gone home and discussed what they have learned with their parents as well as who they are voting for in the Student Votes Election.
    “Some of them have influenced their parents’ votes or brought up a candidate their parents weren’t thinking of,” she said.