High school students given educational but fun look at town hall
Jill Binkley (left), deputy clerk of Norfolk County, leads a group of Simcoe Composite School students during a tour of town hall on Tuesday to celebrate Local Government Week. With her are students Floyd Feere, 16, Cherry Carson, 15, and Cassidy Badger, 15. DANIEL R. PEARCE/SIMCOE REFORMER
For a few short minutes Tuesday afternoon, Norfolk's council chamber was turned into a game show.
Clerk Andy Grozelle stood at the front and pointed to a screen projection of a Jeopardy board complete with topics and questions underneath.
Remember, Grozelle warned the nearly 100 excited high school students sitting in the gallery, your answer must be in the form of a question.
“Norfolk County is not actually a county, it is a --” the question went.
“What is a township,” a student shouted from the audience.
Incorrect. Norfolk is actually a town.
“Head of council,” went another query.
“Who is Mayor Charlie Luke,” answered Megan Wallis, 15, of Simcoe Composite School.
The mock Jeopardy game was part of a tour of Norfolk's municipal operations given to Grade 10 civics students from area high schools.
The idea was to give teenagers a close-up – and fun – look at how town hall operates, what it does, and how they can get involved.
It was also Norfolk's way of celebrating Local Government Week.
Students were given tours of the new municipal building on Robinson Street where they went into the Provincial Offences court and got to sit in the judge's chair.
They also toured the main town hall, a former courthouse and jail, and were told of the most notorious hangings that took place there.
Members of the clerk's office, who organized the event, took the students through “the day in the life of an elected official.”
Then they went for a game of Jeopardy in the very spot where those elected officials make the decisions that affect the lives of the 60,000-plus residents who voted them in.
The day was designed by county summer student Ameilia Jaggard, 22, now a Mohawk College journalism student.
“It's a good way for youth to learn abut the county and what it does,” said Jaggard, who was there for the tour. “Your parents always complain about taxes, but you come here and see that money goes a long way and that it does a lot for our lives.”
The tour personalized town hall for students by showing them the people who do the behind-the-scenes work you don't normally hear about, said organizers.
Teachers and students said they found the day both informative and fun.
“For me to teach it in the classroom is one thing, but for them to go out into the community and see the faces – it appears to be important to them,” said SCS teacher Wannita Wall.
“It's important for them to learn about the government and how to be a contributing member of society.”
The Jeopardy game was clearly a hit. Students yelled, laughed, and clapped throughout.
“I found it interesting,” said Sydney Duckworth, 15, of Delhi District Secondary School, adding she learned new things about the community she moved to five years ago.
The event was topped off with the students catching the first half-hour of this week's council meeting.