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Chester Area Middle School students get a taste of Province House

by Tim Reeves-Horton


Chester Area Middle School students, from left, Nathan Stevens, Devon Chaulk and Morgan Sawler got to meet their MLA, the Honourable Judy Streatch, at Province House during a recent class trip.
 COUNTY - When Joe Howe first ran for election in 1836, he declared that "… the assembly would be an admirable school for his own development."

 That point rang true 172 years later when 70 Grade 7 students from Chester Area Middle School (CAMS) came to Province House in Halifax on June 17 to experience, first-hand, a bit of history and the political process of Nova Scotia.

 Andree Gracie is the event co-ordinator for a non-partisan provincial government initiative called Democracy 250.

 "We're celebrating the 250th anniversary of the first parliamentary democracy in Canada," said Ms Gracie. "Today we have Chester [Area] Middle School attending a program called Pizza and Politics. We want it to be a very informal, fun day to learn some history, to have some pride of place and to celebrate with us, Democracy 250."

 The large group of students was accompanied by five teachers, including Susan Chandler, who spearheaded the trip, as well as CAMS principal John Burke.

 "Today we have all of our Grade 7s who've come in as part of the social studies program in order to see what's happening in the House of Assembly and to experience all of our history," explained Mr. Burke. "It's a perfect opportunity to get our kids engaged in the political process. There's going to be a lot of discussion and sharing on the part of all the kids about what the experience was and this is going to sweep through the school because the kids are just in awe."

 The students toured Province House and met some key political figures, past and present. They sat in the House of Assembly and were shown parliamentary procedure by the Speaker of the House, the Honourable Alfie MacLeod. Sgt.-at-Arms Ken Greenham allowed them the opportunity to slip on white gloves to closely examine the priceless ceremonial mace.

 In the timeless Legislative Library, actor and author Michael Bawtree regaled the students with the story of Joe Howe.

 The group was then announced to the Red Room, where they shared pizza and an informal question-and-answer period with D250's co-chairmen, former premiers Russell McLellan and Dr. John Hamm.

 The students' local MLA, Judy Streatch, dropped in to chat with them. She offered strong encouragement to her young constituents about getting involved in politics.

 "If you don't take the opportunity to express your views and if you don't take the opportunity to vote, no matter what the issue is, someone else will make the choice for you," said Ms Streatch.

 Student Colin Moore summed up the highlights of the day for him.

 "We saw the first Supreme Court [in Canada] and we saw a bunch of cool paintings," said Colin. "We learned about Joseph Howe. He couldn't find a lawyer so he had to say everything for himself and he had a six-and-a-half-hour speech. Now, we're having pizza."

 To see a video of this story, visit southshorenow.ca.



posted on 06/24/08
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