Holy Cross students question candidates
Students at Holy Cross Secondary School questioned three provincial election candidates Thursday morning on education issues.
Peterborough-Kawartha NDP candidate Sean Conway, Progressive Conservative Dave Smith and Liberal incumbent Jeff Leal took the stage in the school’s cafeteria as students lined up one-by-one to ask their questions.
Trevor Digby, a teacher at the school for 18 years, co-ordinated the question period.
“If we could have more people listen to these kinds of questions in this province, perhaps we could get somewhere,” Digby said.
He began organizing the event the first year there was a provincial election while he was working at the school.
Grade 10 student Carmen Chung asked the candidates if their parties had plans on eliminating the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT).
“The Ontario NDP is committed to ending standardized testing like EQAO and the Literacy Test,” Conway said.
“We feel that teachers should not be focused on teaching students a test, they should be focused on teaching what they’re supposed be.”
Smith said the Progressive Conservative party also wants to get rid of the test.
“I have to agree with my opponents. After 22 years, it has outlived most of its usefulness,” Smith said.
Smith emphasized that although he would not be opposed to eliminating the testing, he believes there still needs to be a strong emphasis on literacy skills.
“When you can read, when you can write, when you can express yourself, it opens up so many different avenues for you.”
Chung recently wrote the Grade 10 OSSLT and says students are conflicted.
“The literacy test takes place on one single day and you only get one try,” she said.
“Not everyone is going to be in their best condition that day, so some people think that the marks that you get in your English course should be enough to represent that.”
Social studies teacher Kelly Adams said traditionally people between 18 and 25 vote the least.
“You need to start casting an informed vote,” Adams said.
“Your right to vote comes with a responsibility not only to know and to listen to what these people would have to say, but have an idea what their parties are going to do for us and for you and what it’s going to cost you from a social and economic perspective.”
On May 30, students at Holy Cross Secondary School will participate in a national program called Student Vote, which gives students an opportunity to cast a ballot even if they are not of voting age yet.
“Our votes that we cast will not impact the reality of the election, but what our votes will do is let these parties know whose ideas we seem to be liking, whose party we would be inclined to support,” Adams said.
Student Vote results will be released on June 7.