Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling explains to the Grade 5/6 class of Nakusp Elementary School how a motion is voted on during a council meeting. The students visited the village office on April 26 to take part in a mock village council meeting.

Students learn to understand local government

A class from Nakusp Elementary School had the chance to take part in a mock village council meeting on April 26.

The Grade 5/6 class of Nakusp Elementary School (NES) got an inkling of what it’s like to be on village council as they took part in a mock council meeting on April 26.

Before the meeting, the students were given a tour of the village offices.

After the tour, they got down to business. Eight students in the class were chosen to act as mayor and members of the village council.

Before the mock meeting took place, mayor Karen Hamling explained the rules and what happens during a council meeting.

Parts of the meeting were scripted, which gave a chance for the students to see how a regular council meeting would flow, something teacher Joseph Baron thought was a great idea.

“It was very approachable for the students who might be a little bit nervous stepping into a situation like this.” he said.

When it came time for delegations to present, students used topics they had discussed in class, such as bringing back the music festival, getting more hotels in the area for tourists in the summertime, and sharing their reasons why the village should have a pool.

Baron said doing this kind of thing helps to better connect the students to their community, and helps provide meaning to what happens at council.

“There’s a part that we can visualize, and make mock proceedings in our class,” he said. “But when you actually come to the place of where it’s happening, it’s just that much greater of a learning experience.”

Originally, when students at NES first started learning about local government, the mayor would come into the class and explain what happens at council meetings, but mayor Hamling thought they would understand things better if they took part in a council meeting instead.

“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s refreshing,” she said. “It’s a good way for the kids to understand that there isn’t this bucket of money you put your hand into and pull out when people want things.”

Hamling was very impressed with her student counterpart, Savannah Olson.

“She was a little bit shy, but did quite well once she got going,” she said. “It’s pretty intimidating sitting in front of a group of people and running a meeting.”

Hamling said she hopes when the students leave they have a better understanding of what council does, along with what they go through when making decisions to help and improve the community.