Student Vote 2020
James Knihniski

The autumn of 2020 has been quite an exciting time for the Social Studies department. With the upcoming B.C. provincial election on October 24th and the Presidential election in the United States on November 3rd, our classes have been buzzing with a huge increase in political discussions.

When I recently asked my students how many of them watched the debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, most raised their hands; although the majority said they could not watch the whole debate as it was getting too frustrating for them to watch, which having watched it myself, I totally understood! But nonetheless, I was so proud of my students for getting more involved and trying to understand the political landscape a lot better. As a result, I can’t wait to see how students will vote in our upcoming “Student Vote” simulation.

It has been a tradition at Southridge to get involved in the Student Vote program for provincial and federal elections for the past decade or even longer. This program was introduced by CIVIX, a non-partisan registered charity dedicated to strengthening democracy through civic education. Its primary goal is to give students a better understanding of government and elections, instill their sense of civic responsibility, and to hopefully increase their likelihood of voting in the future. In fact, our school has also seen many students working at the polling stations during election day, which has been great for getting experience, training, and even some extra money for their work as an added incentive. This year is no exception as a few students will once again be working for Elections B.C.  

I also need to point out that in the last provincial election and Student Vote that we participated in, there was a special feature to the ballot. One of our own Southridge alumni was on the provincial ballot for the South Surrey riding in the 2017 election. Josh Barrett (Class of 2016) was running for the Libertarian Party of British Columbia. In addition, Bert Chen (Class of 2007) also ran as a candidate in the Langley Municipal election back in 2011. This year, former Head Boy, Bryn Smith (Class of 2013), is our third alumni trying their hands at politics. He is a candidate for the provincial NDP Party in the Surrey-White Rock riding. It is exciting to see him run a campaign during this election, especially given all of the COVID-19 restraints. 

All in all, it is so wonderful to see many more students engaged in politics and also gaining a much better understanding of the entire political process. It definitely makes this social studies teacher very proud!

Contributed by Mr. Knihniski, Senior School Social Studies Curriculum Leader