HHSS students reflect on Capital Experience
By Darren Lum
Published Nov. 1, 2016
Two Haliburton Highlands Secondary School senior students are basking in the glow of a new found perspective after participating in the 12th annual Capital Experience, hosted by MP Jamie Schmale and his staff from Oct. 23 to 25.
HHSS Grade 12 student Rachael Reddering and Grade 11 student Andrew Carmount learned about how government works and discovered a variety of careers and occupations.
They were in Ottawa for close to three days touring, including participation in a mock question period before they attended the actual question period, a taping of CBC show Power and Politics, meetings with an advocate from Amnesty International, officials from the South Korean Embassy to Canada, International Experience Canada, Garry Keller chief of staff in the office of the leader of the official opposition, Rona Ambrose, the leader of the official position, and consultant Katlyn Harrison, who is an I.E. Weldon graduate, of Summa Strategies Canada Inc., a government relations firm.
The co-leaders of the Rotary Interact group at the school were part of a contingent of 15 high school students from the Haliburton – Kawartha Lakes – Brock riding and were chosen by the school’s principal based on their interest in politics and for having leadership roles.
Reddering, a liberal-minded supporter of the Green Party, appreciated the opportunity to visit Ottawa and hopes to work in politics, which she said is important because it is related to how the country is run.
“I loved every single minute of it. I have always been interested in politics so it was fascinating to really see it up close. The part that stood out to me was when we watched question period. I loved this because I have watched them in the past on a computer so it was really cool to see it in person,” Reddering wrote in an email.
She supports the Green Party because she believes the environment needs to be protected.
“If we do not pay attention to it, then we will not have a future,” she wrote.
Carmount, who is also a Grade 11 representative for his student government and Green Party member, called this a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
After hearing about what Schmale does, Carmount could see himself working on the Hill, possibly running for a seat.
He welcomed the opportunity to “talk to an intern from Amnesty International and working in an NGO (non-governmental organization) is something I’m looking at for a career. It was interesting to not only learn about their careers but also talk to them about its risks and rewards,” he wrote.
The teenager is interested in politics’ influence on society and how it shapes our future.
This trip reinforced his beliefs in protecting the environment and supporting people instead of corporations and lobbyists.
Capital Experience started with Schmale’s Conservative predecessor Barry Devolin 12 year sago.
Schmale said this experience shows what you study in school isn’t necessarily directly related to your career so it alleviates the stress students feel about choosing areas of study at post-secondary educational institutes.
This was Schmale’s first year hosting students and he expects to continue next year, he said.
He said this would not have been possible without a number of service groups and local businesses who sponsor the students. Carmount was sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion in Minden and Reddering was sponsored by the Kin Club of Minden.
Schmale, who wishes he had taken advantage of similar opportunities as a student such as experiences to work in other countries, appreciated the visit and the opportunity to answer questions from the intelligent and thoughtful students with leadership qualities.
“It was actually sad to say goodbye because they were just so good to hang with and I enjoyed showing where I work and others work as well. It was good chemistry,” he said.