By Annie Vezeau
At École Mont-de-La Salle, Raymond Chrétien, former school principal turned student affairs officer, is putting all his energy to the benefit of the students that he deals with on a daily basis. Founder of the student Parliament in 1996, Mr Chrétien is buzzing with projects aimed at fostering in the students of this secondary school the emergence of a duty consciousness in their role as citizens by orienting their actions toward participation and commitment.
According to Mr Chrétien’s vision, the student Parliament is a different and original means of developing an actual feeling of belonging to the school. Students are proud to belong and they can live in an environment where human dignity and respect are the top priorities.
Thus, this new form of student council makes it possible to:
By attaining these objectives, the school enables students to develop their duty consciousness as citizens.
École Mont-de-La Salle receives students from the second to the fifth years of secondary education. The student Parliament is made up of elected and non-elected members. On the one hand, there are the Members, ministers and the premier who are elected by all the students of the school and thus become official representatives. On the other hand, there are non elected officials such as the chair of the Parliament, the chair of the assembly, the spokesperson, the secretary general, journalists, who write articles for school newspaper, as well as press attachés who write press releases, especially intended for the school’s journalists. All these positions are occupied by students.
Furthermore, the school principal, through his position as lieutenant-governor, works with the Members. In this context, the student Parliament has to obtain its approval for the legislative measures that it adopts. An official is also designated by the school to act as a ”consultant” to the Members, while teachers of each of the years have a “natural obligation” to foster the participation of students in school life and in their projects.
However, no opposition party seats in the student Parliament. This does not mean there are no debates of ideas, quite the contrary! Mr Chrétien noticed that due to the presence of only one party, there is a greater community spirit and respect. For an educational institution such as École Mont-de-La Salle whose students come from different cultural communities, it is important to ensure that cultural diversity is present. However, according to Mr Chrétien, cultural diversity should be present within the same party and not be an element of division.
Like during provincial elections, student candidates who would like to run for a position in the student Parliament have to prepare their election campaign. To assist them in this process, Mr Chrétien encourages the students to follow the guidelines found in the guide Democracy at Secondaty Level, produced by the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec.
After the election results are known, the newly elected members are sworn in officially by the lieutenant-gouverneur, that is, the school principal. During this occasion, representatives of the City, commissioners, the police, community organizations, the majority of teachers of the school as well as several parents come together to assist in swearing in the student government.
As Mr Chrétien puts it, enabling the young to be involved in stimulating projects instils in them values such as ethics, sense of community and solidarity.
From the City, most community organizations to the police department, Mr Chrétien, through his desire to prepare the youths to become involved citizens, has been able to mobilize an entire community around projects of the student Parliament.
Here are a few examples of projects accomplished over the past few years:
However, before a project can be accepted by the student Parliament, the students have to put it through three clearly defined stages: writing of the project, examination of the project in a parliamentary committee and the final adoption.
Over the years, the work of Mr Chrétien has echoed in other areas, especially in Québec City and the Beauce region where some schools have adopted a similar formula. As the student affairs officer puts it: “The operation of the student Parliament is like a giant theatrical piece. Students embark on projects with joy if they are provided the setting!” The National Assembly was inspired by the experience at École Mont-de-La Salle to launch the Parlements au secondaire program in November 2005.
For more information on how the student Parliament works, you can contact Mr Raymond Chrétien at (450) 662-7000.
|School board:||De Laval|
|Existence of the council:||since 1996|
|Number of elected office-holders:||one per class|
|Candidates:||2nd, 3rd, 4rd and 5rd years secondary|
|Voters:||2nd, 3rd, 4rd and 5rd years secondary|