Students grill school district candidates

School board trustees put on the hot seat by students

Anne Lu

Anne Lu

Political questions can be more meaningful when they come from those who are effected by policy most.

School board trustee candidates had a chance to answer questions from members of the Pen High debate club at the Penticton Secondary School’s library on Nov. 13.

Candidates Keith MacIntyre, Shelley Clarke, Bruce Johnson, Teresa Hebert and Bill Bidlake attended and answered questions on topics ranging from mandatory physical ed to funding for extracurricular activities. Candidate Barb Sheppard was unable to attend, but a written statement was read on her behalf. Each member of the debate club was able to address a question to one or multiple trustee candidates. For Anne Lu, a member of the Pen High debate club, it was an informative opportunity.

“I definitely think it was an interesting experience. Just to be involved in the school board elections and to meet all the candidates,” Lu said.

Many candidates mentioned during the forum that the questions were some of the most informed of all the debates.

“Most of the answers were very good. I was quite impressed with how comfortable they all seemed speaking up here,” Lu said. “They had a lot to say sometimes and I guess it’s too bad we don’t have a longer time.”

Candidate Clarke was impressed by the questions put forward by the students.

“They asked very to-the-point questions I think it was amazing,” said Clarke. “Anytime you can get the kids involved with the election process I think it’s a good thing because it will go forward in to their adult life.”

Bill Laven, an English teacher at Pen High who heads the debate club, was also impressed by his students, although he was hoping for a better turnout from teachers as well as students.

“I think they did a great job,” Laven said. “I was a bit surprised that so few teachers showed up. In light of the recent strike, I think there are teachers who are a bit upset with our current incumbent trustees because of their lack of support for teachers.”

Laven hoped that would be all the more reason for teachers to attend.

“You have an opportunity to see whether or not these are trustees who will support you in the future,” he said.

For more info on Penticton municipal candidates visit