Calgary Islamic students win trip to the Legislature

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About two dozen Grade 6 students in Holly Davidson’s class will take their Social Studies lessons to Edmonton May 24-27 to see provincial government in action.

It’s unclear who is more excited about winning CTV’s School at the Legislature contest — the Calgary Islamic School students or their teacher at the Omar Bin Al-Khattab campus.

“I come from a political family,” says Davidson, whose stepfather was elected to municipal council in Ontario and whose grandfather was a mayor.

“Jack Layton had been to our house,” she says of the former federal New Democratic Party leader. “I love politics. I’m excited and my students are excited.”

The School at the Legislature program gives students access to a classroom near the Alberta Premier’s office and support to conduct their own mock Legislature with students playing all the roles from MLAs to Speaker. The class will get to visit the chamber where legislation is introduced, debated and passed, as well as the office of Premier Rachel Notley.

“I’ve told my students, ‘If we see Rachel Notley, she’s mine,’ ” Davidson says, adding she’d love to get a selfie with the Premier.

Normally, this program costs $700, plus accommodation and travel. Thanks to the CTV contest, the program cost is covered and the class will have $2,000 to put toward meals and accommodation. This will be OBK’s first overnight school trip in the history of the school, making the event all the more momentous.

The media company is also providing transportation and a tour behind the scenes of the Edmonton CTV News station.

All of this fits well with the Grade 6 curriculum which sees students writing news articles and learning about government.

The students’ won the contest with a joyful video that involved every student either in front of or behind the camera. The one-take video travels the halls, introducing the viewer to the multicultural students and their reasons for wanting to visit the Legislature. Davidson had no background in video production but using more technology in the classroom, including video, was one of her professional goals this year.

Students created all the signs conveying key information about themselves and did a couple of practice runs. Grade 2 teacher Ifrah Fiazi manned the iPad on which the video was recorded in a single shot. In preparation, students talked about how a visit to the provincial capital would benefit their community, and the video shares their answers. In it, they write about the benefits of active citizenship, that “Democracy is key to knowledge” and “It’s fun DUH.”

Viewers discover that while some of the Grade 6 students speak English at home, others speak Pashto, Urdu, Arabic or Farsi. While some students are first-generation-born Canadians, others are immigrants, and only Davidson can trace her roots in Canada to the early 1800s.

“The majority of my students are learning English as a Second Language,” Davidson says. “ESL students benefit from doing hands-on learning. . . I know this will benefit them.”

Principal Raiha Idrees said students at OBK have been inspired politically this year, starting a student council for the first time, complete with student elections.

“I am truly proud of them and of the hard work, inspiration and creativity of Mrs. Davidson and the Grade 6 students,” she said.

At the outset, the video promises the School at the Legislature program “is just the beginning to their lives as members of the ‘Citizens that Care’ Party.”

This isn’t the first time a Palliser school has won a trip the the Legislature. Three years ago, Grade 6 students at Noble Central School in Nobleford had the opportunity.

For more information on the School at the Legislature Program and application guidelines please visit Applications for the 2016-2017 year close on April 22.