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Windsor Grade six students participate in mock parliament

Windsor Grade six students participate in mock  parliament
The Grade six group from the Windsor School along with The Clerk of the House of Assembly, Nicole Herbert (left) and Speaker of the House of Parliament, Rochelle Forde

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Fourteen Grade six students from the Windsor Primary School were brimming with excitement and curiosity this week, having had the opportunity to visit the Court House and Parliament Building in Kingstown.

Windsor Grade six students participate in mock  parliament
Students role playing as members of Parliament

The class is the first batch of students to visit the historic building during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the tenure of the current Speaker of the House of Parliament, Rochelle Forde.

“It was very educational and fun. It was heart-warming as a teacher to hear these students answer questions that they were asked, and even pose questions to the Speaker,” CrezKemma Burgess, the students’ Civics teacher told SEARCHLIGHT.

She explained that the class had recently begun the topic of Government, in which the students were supposed to learn about the different arms of government, the different courts in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), and the roles of the important figures in each area of government.

Another requirement involved viewing a session of Parliament, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the field trip was the alternative.

Burgess said she believes that visits like these are very important in helping children to better understand what they are taught at school.

“…As a teacher, we can tell them so much about government. But for them to experience it for themselves is different because not everybody learns the same. Some might be able to learn by me just telling, some by taking part in it they remember it better. So I think it is important for students to be able to- if they can’t view a sitting of parliament or view a court session- they can at least be able to come here and act it out themselves or even just visit and hear from the persons themselves than me telling them because they will be better able to explain,” the Civics teacher said.

The visit to the Court and Parliament Building began at the High Court where the young scholars had an opportunity to hear briefly from Justice Brian Cottle.

Students were then ushered upstairs and into the chamber where Parliament sits.

The Clerk of the House of Assembly, Nicole Herbert facilitated a short tour of the Parliament Chamber, pointing out where Members of Parliament sit. She also pointed out past and present Governors General whose portraits hang in the chamber.

Speaker Forde, who is also a practising lawyer fielded many questions about the Court system and educated the students on the procedures related to a sitting of Parliament.

The enthusiasm of the students was heightened even more when Forde announced that they would have the opportunity to step into the role of parliamentarians and have a mock debate in the House of Assembly.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves also stopped by to chat briefly with each student.

“My favourite part is that I got to speak with Madam Speaker and that I learned a lot today and I want to thank her for letting me be here,” 10-year-old Krestel Assi told SEARCHLIGHT.

Assi aspires to become a doctor and after her visit to Parliament on Tuesday, she said she would also consider becoming a parliamentarian.

Rowel Mack and Jeremy Dick both enjoyed role playing in Parliament.

Mack said he very much liked stepping into the role of parliamentarian but also appreciated the short time he spent at the High Court.

And Dick told SEARCHLIGHT that he liked being the Clerk in the mock parliament session and learning new things.

Forde commended the Grade six students for their ability to understand the rules and procedures of Parliament in such a short space of time.

“I honestly feel very emotional and you have made me so proud and so happy today. I feel as if whenever the time comes for the current members to retire, including myself, we don’t have to worry that the business of the Parliament will go on, and it will go on very, very well. I thank you all for your participation. I thank you for your courage. I thank you for your honesty, I thank you for your respect.

All of those are hallmarks of good citizens,” she said.

As the students prepare to sit the CPEA examinations in 2022, she encouraged them to do their best and study hard.

Principal of the Windsor Primary School, Peter Pompey thanked the staff at the House of Assembly for accommodating the students.

He noted that the firsthand experience will no doubt leave “an indelible impression in their minds”.

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