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IMG_1681Part 1 of our class' turtle project involved researching Ontario turtles, Skyping with staff at the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC), in Peterborough, and writing persuasive letters to our local MPP, urging him to ask the government to ban the hunting of Snapping Turtles.

Part 2 of our project was a class fund-raiser, in support of KTTC.  The name of the fund-raiser was "Market Day."  Students in our class were invited to donate gently used toys and books that they no longer needed and were willing to sell to friends. After everything had been collected, the class divided the items into four categories, or "stores." Students then arranged themselves into teams of six or seven, created signs for the stores, and priced the items they would be selling. All items were priced between 25 cents and a dollar. When Market Day arrived, teams set up their stores and students took turns selling, or browsing and purchasing goods.

The Book Store:

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The Toy Store:



The Video and Game Store:

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The Stuffed Animal and Nik Knak Store:

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Each student in our class was invited to bring up to $5.00 to spend on purchases at Market Day. This event gave students great real-life practice working in a team, marketing, buying, selling, counting money and calculating change.

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When our market closed, student teams counted their store profits.

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This is the tally of money raised through Market Day:

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Video/Game Store: $28.85
Stuffed Animals & Nik Knacks Store: $24.60
Toy Store:  $23.50
Book Store:  $17.25

Some students also elected to donated their unspent money: $15.90

The grand total raised by students was: $110.10

Mrs. Black had previously promised to match the students' donation. With her contribution added, our class' total donation to the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre became: $220.20!!

Thank you and congratulations to all the students and parents who supported our fund-raiser with donations of goods and money. We know the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre will put our funds to excellent use!

Mrs. Black also wants to thank her teaching colleague Lisa MacRae, for sharing the idea of Market Day.


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.


This year, our class wanted to focus their persuasive writing unit and annual class fund raiser on helping turtles. A project of this sort would meet Grade 5 curriculum expectations in Language (researching, writing and media literacy), Science (Conservation of Energy and Resources), Math (counting money) and Social Studies (First Nations turtle symbolism). We consulted with staff from the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC), in Peterborough, and they gave us some ideas for our letters.


The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre is a fourteen year old Canadian registered charity that rescues, rehabilitates and returns to the wild over 1,000 turtles per year. The centre also engages in wild and released turtle population research, conservation initiatives such as establishing "eco-passages" that allow turtles to cross under busy roadways, and education outreach.

We reviewed this poster, showing the species of turtles that live in Ontario. Did you know that seven out of eight species of Ontario turtles are at risk?!



These videos and websites provided us with more information about turtles in Ontario:

After studying these resources, the class decided we should write to our local MPP (Conservative leader Patrick Brown), and ask him to urge the government to ban the hunting of Snapping Turtles for food. People are allowed to take up to two turtles per day, between mid-July and mid-September in Southern and Central Ontario, and at any time of the year in Northern Ontario, even though Snapping Turtles are listed as "Special Concern" by both the Federal and Ontario governments.

The education coordinator at KTTC offered to give us a tour of the turtle hospital, via Skype, and to answer any questions students had about turtles, prior to writing our letters. We had so much fun talking to Lauren, and meeting the turtles at the centre!

IMG_1477 IMG_1484 IMG_1487 IMG_1502 IMG_1512 IMG_1516Next, it was time to write letters! Students started off by listing their arguments against allowing a turtle hunt:


They turned their pre-writing plans into rough drafts:

IMG_1519 IMG_1520 IMG_1521 IMG_1524They obtained peer feedback, to help them improve their drafts, and then created "good copies" to send to Mr. Brown.


These are samples of student letters:

IMG_1628IMG_1629IMG_1630IMG_1631IMG_1632We are looking forward to receiving a response from Mr. Brown. We hope he will take what we wrote to heart and help the Snapping Turtles!

Our next blog post will feature our class fundraiser:  Market Day 4 Turtles!


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.


In mid-October, students in Grades 2-6 participated in a cartooning workshop, with illustrator Jermaine Smith from Freeze Kid's Comic Books.



Mr. Smith guided students through the process of drawing several cartoon characters.

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Afterwards, students in our class used what they learned to create eight-panel comic strips.


IMG_0876Some students shared their work with the class, using our classroom document camera.



Here are some of the finished comic strips:

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The next step in our project was to turn some of our comic strips into plays. Students organized themselves into groups of three to six, chose one of the comic strips created by a member of their group, and used it as the script planner. They then worked collaboratively to write a play, create props, rehearse, and present to our class, as a drama activity.

IMG_1144 IMG_1140 IMG_1142 IMG_1141This is what the plays looked like...

The Banana Robbery:


Halloween Terror:

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Clayton's Potions:

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Ninja Boy VS. the Vampire:

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Students really enjoyed working their way through this integrated unit, which generated marks for them in visual arts, writing, the learning skill "collaboration," and drama.


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.


Each year in health class, we study the importance of healthy eating and exercise. Our class recently reviewed the Canada Food Guide and a PowerPoint presentation about nutrition labels. - Copy

We were curious about the sugar and salt content of prepackaged foods and drinks that students bring to school for lunch. After one of our nutrition breaks we collected a random assortment of packages that had nutrition labels, from classroom garbage and recycling bins.


We examined the sodium content of salty snacks, in small, Halloween-sized bags. Most of the potato chip, Dorito and cheezie bags contained between 95 and 110 mg of sodium. This represents 5% of the Daily Value for sodium.

We compared the sodium content of the chip bags to that of a "Lunchable." We were shocked to find that the Lunchable contained over five times as much sodium as the chips... or 23% of the Daily Value for sodium!


Next, we examined the sugar content of "sweet" treats, and ranked several items in order of sugar content.


Then, we graphed the sugar content of twelve sweet snacks that students had brought to school for lunch.

IMG_1295While some students were drawing and colouring the graph, others weighed granulated sugar to approximate the amount of sugar in each snack. We bagged the granulated sugar and attached it to the graph.

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IMG_1339The ranking of some of the items and the large quantity of sugar in the bags surprised everyone!

P1010008 P1010009 P1010010We mounted the graph in the hall outside our classroom. It became an instant conversation piece for students in our class, and for those passing through our hallway!

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During our next health lesson, we decided it might be a good idea to examine the sugar content of healthier school lunch items, and graph them as well.


The "healthy food graph" gave our class and passersby some extra data to consider. These are Grade 5 and 6 students discussing the graph on their way in from recess.



This is a Grade 1 class discussing the graph. They are also studying nutrition right now.


We discussed the fact that, although we represented sugar content for all items using granulated white sugar, the sugar that is present in most of the items on the healthy food graph are natural sugars, rather than manufactured sugars that were added to make food and drinks more appealing.


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Students in our class felt our graphing activity was an eye-opening experience. Here are some of their comments:

R.K.:  I was shocked to find out how much sugar was in Powerade and chocolate bar flavoured milk. I thought Coke would be the worst.

B.T.:  It’s unbelievable how much sugar can be in everyday foods!

B.L.:  I agree. It’s amazing how much sugar is in everything we eat.

J.M.:  Nobody really thinks about how much sugar and sodium they are intaking every day.

W.C.:  I couldn’t believe how much sugar is in root beer. I thought Coke would be higher.

R.P.:  Every day, every person thinks they are just drinking flavoured milk, but the Caramilk type has a ton of sugar in it.

E.G.: I think more people should stop to think what they are buying at the grocery store. They should be looking at the food labels, not just the advertisements about things being “high fibre,” etc. 

C.B.:  I had no idea that the Caramilk milk-thing had more sugar than pop!

J.C.:  I wonder if a Caramilk chocolate bar has as much sugar as the Caramilk drink?

L.B.:  I can’t believe that Powerade has more sugar than Coke.

S.T.:  It’s surprising to me how much sugar could possibly be in a simple drink like pop.

K.P.:  I think it was really surprising that the ham had no sugar in it, and I was really surprised that root beer has more sugar than Coke.

S.M.:  I was really surprised that oranges had more sugar than carrots.

N.H.:  I was surprised that apples have more sugar than oranges, because sometimes apples taste really sour.

M.M:  What I eat is scary!  🙁

The next step in our nutrition unit involved discussing what constitutes a healthy school lunch item, and what could be defined as a less-healthy snack item. Students rated the lunches they had brought to school that day, according to how nutritional and waste-fee they were. Most students rated their lunches as moderately to highly nutritious; most rated their lunches as poor in the waste-free department. Students with waste-free lunches then provided tips to their peers about how to reduce school lunch waste.

Afterwards, each student made a list of the healthy food items they sometimes bring to school. Then they were given an opportunity to peruse others' lists and jot down new healthy school lunch items that they would like to try.

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Hopefully, our graphing activity, and the conversations it inspired, will help students to really think about the food and drinks they are putting into their bodies, and to try some new healthy school lunch ideas!



Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

High school student ambassadors from Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF) recently visited Rama Central P.S. and ran a workshop geared at helping our class identify its next outreach project.


The workshop began by inviting students to share their thoughts and feelings about images depicting cultural, economic, environmental and social issues.

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Next, students were each given a photograph and asked to identify which category or categories of need the picture addressed.

IMG_1002 IMG_1003 IMG_1005Once students had been exposed to some outreach categories and ideas, they worked in small groups to brainstorm project ideas for our class.

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IMG_1013Then, each group chose its favourite idea and had a repesentative of the group present it to the class.

IMG_1020 IMG_1021The class was then given an opportunity to vote, to narrow down the choices. After two rounds of voting, we had a two-way tie. We decided that helping the turtles could be the focus of our persuasive letter writing unit, so the rest of the workshop was focused on developing the idea "helping the homeless."

IMG_1022The LSF team helped the class more clearly define their project, which will include knitting, a winter clothing drive, and a food drive for Sharing Place food bank.

Once the scope of the project had been determined, the LSF ambassadors entered the project into the "Our Canada Project" database, where others can view it. We will add photographs and more details to our online project listing, as they become available.



We want to thank the student ambassadors for coming to our class. We had a great time, and learned a lot about outreach projects and how to organize them!

In a future blog post, we will show our class working toward making their new outreach project a reality.


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.


Habitat-for-Hunanity-Canada-300x211For the second year in a row, the Grade 4-6 students at our school participated in a national writing contest in support of Habitat for Humanity. Students authored 50-300 word essays explaining what "home" means to them.

The contest involved the usual incentives and prizes for students, but the best part was that builder Genworth Canada pledged to donate $5.00 to Habitat for Humanity Canada for every contest entry that was received.

Students in our class completed their writing just prior to Thanksgiving weekend... a perfect time to reflect upon thoughts and feelings about home.

Students were required to get parental permission in order to enter the contest. We set a class goal of having 80% of permission slips returned, and we met our goal. At the time this BLOG post was written, we had received 20 permission forms back, meaning our class' writing efforts generated $100.00 in donations for Habitat for Humanity!  

moh_sitelogo_enThese are samples of some of the reflections that our class entered into the contest:

Home is a place to be thankful. Home is a place to feel safe and loved. Home is where you are happy and you are always welcome. Home is special to me because it is where all my memories are made. Home is where my brother and I can play. Home is my favourite place to be. Home is where I can be family. Home is where I can go swimming with my Dad, Mom and my brother. Home is where I am sad and happy. Home is where I can go for bike rides and boat rides. Home is a place that I love because I have a warm place to sleep and I have a roof over my head. I am very lucky to have a family, a house and warmth. That is what home means to me!

Home is a place where you feel good. Home is a place where you are safe. Home is a place where you spend weekends together. Home is a place to make happy thoughts. It is a place to have fun, a place to be thankful, so don't complain because you might not always have one.

Home is where the heart is. Home is where my family is, not just a house. It is where I can rest and sometimes study for a test. My home is the best. I can eat. It is where there is heat... not just heat from the heater, but heat from my family's hearts. Home is like the colour chrome, so grand. Home is where I am so thankful for a roof over my head, and food on the table, and some cable for the TV, with maple trees and pine trees in the Canadian Shield. Home is where the heart says, "Yes, this is where I belong."

Home is not just a roof over my head and some walls. It's where love fills the air, not hate. It's where people won't hurt me. I don't have to worry. I feel safe because when I fall someone is there to pick me up. When I am sick Mom, Dad and Grandma will take care of me. Memories are made with joy. It is where I learned to walk It's where I said my first word. It is where I am always happy, never sad. Home is where I learned to farm . It was where I got my first dog. That's what home means to me.

Home is a place where you keep warm and stay safe. It keeps you dry when it's raining. When you get home your family is there. Home is a place to cry and be happy. A home can be a condo, apartment, shed or a hole, a burrow or anything, as long as you have your family spirit it is your home.

Home is a place where you can play safely without any worries of anything happening. You can stay under a roof, eat food and sleep in a bed. Home is where you can have fun with your friends and home is always warm and cozy... The feeling of home is so nice, the smell, the taste, is just amazing. Not all people in the world have a home. They make shelter in the cracks between buildings, having little food or water each day. I think anything and everything should have a home. A home could be a hole for a fox, a hive for a bee, a rug for a bug, but in the end they're all still homes. That's what home means to me.

A home is not a house, a house is just a building. A home is where you feel safe, loved and happy. Some people live in a shack, house, apartment, mansion or duplex. You could live in a city, country or in the maintains. It doesn't matter where you live, but it's good to have a roof over your head. Home is where I feel safe. Home is where I can cry Home is a place where I can be loved. If I have a bad bad day it feels good to come home. When I go to bed it will be a new day tomorrow. When it's storming, it's good to have a family and a roof over your head. When it's stormy I like to get a blanket and watch a movie with my family. I am doing this to raise money for the homeless I don't care about pizza parties and that other stuff! I just care about helping the homeless. To me, home is the best place in the world. I'm thankful for having a family and a roof over my head.

Home is a place where I feel safe and warm. Home is a place where I an come home from school and be happy. Home is a place where you can cry when you're sad. Home is a place where you can laugh and play. We are lucky that we have a home, because some people don't have a home or a house.

I love that my parents are at home. I sleep, play and watch TV there. I feel safe at home. It doesn't matter where you live... in a cave, a bat, apartment or hotel. If I won a lottery I would give it to people that don't have a home.

A home is where your mom and dad make you happy. If you are sad, they are always there for a hug. They are always there for you, no matter what happens at your home. A home isn't just a building, it's a place to be loved and cared for. A home is where you can stay safe and warm. That is what home means to me!

The meaning of home is where you stay, where you sleep and where your journey never ends! Also, it's where your love is. Home is where you do your happy things in life. A home could be an apartment, a condo, it could be anything. Home is a place where you have fun memories. Holidays with your grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers, dogs and cats. Home is a place where you stay warm, where you have fun, playful memories, where you have your first steps, and your first time stepping out into the world. That is the meaning of home, to me.


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me (Margaret Black):  or to add a comment to this page.



Our most recent visual arts project was intended to help students create depth in a piece of art, and replicate the gradations of colour that appear when objects are lit from above.

Step One:  Mrs. Black brought three pumpkins to class, arranged them so one was in front of the other two, photographed this grouping, converted the photograph from colour to grayscale, and projected the image on the SmartBoard.


Step Two:  We discussed how the positioning of the pumpkins created a sense of depth in the photo. The smallest pumpkin appeared to be in front of the others because it was lower in the photograph, and covered portions of the other two. We also observed the way light from above created gradations of gray on the pumpkins' surfaces. This was much easier to see in a grayscale rendering than in the original coloured photograph of the pumpkins, or by looking at the pumpkins themselves.

Step Three:  Students tried their hands at creating three-dimensional renderings of the pumpkins, in pencil. They used shading to replicated the lighting effects they observed in the photograph... lightest gray on top, medium gray in the middle, dark gray on the bottom portion of the pumpkins and in the shadows they cast on the table.

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Step Four:  Using pencil, students transferred an outline of the pumpkins to black paper, and then traced over it with white glue. This created surfaces onto which soft chalk pastels would not adhere during the final step of the art project.

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Step Five:  After the glue had been left to dry overnight, students watched a video demonstrating how to blend soft chalk pastels:

Afterwards, students began to colour the pumpkins they had outlined in glue. For reference, a coloured version of Mrs. Black's pumpkin photograph was projected on the screen.


The results were simply stunning!

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These pieces of art will be heading to the next Ramona Fall Fair!

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

In gym class, students have been learning the basics of three-pitch softball and refining their skills. We divided the class into two teams, and students remained with the same team throughout the baseball unit.

Over the past week, we wrapped up our baseball unit with a best-of-five championship series.

  • Game One went to the team that called itself "The Hillbilly Rednecks."
  • In Game Two, the "Fire-breathing Bulldogs" leaped into action. Their win evened the series at one game each.
  • In Game Three, the Rednecks surged back and took the lead in the best-of-five series, two games to one.
  • Going into Game Four, everything was on the line for the Bulldogs. A win would even the series at two games apiece; a loss would give the Rednecks the championship. The Bulldogs took an early lead in Game Four, but in the bottom of the final inning the Rednecks came from behind and scored four runs, to tie the game. The tension was palpable, as the Rednecks' final batter came to the plate, with the game tied and a runner on third. The batter drilled a line drive into left field, scoring the runner... and the rest, as they say, is history.

Here are some action shots from the championship series:





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Congratulations to both teams for the skill and sportsmanship they demonstrated during our baseball unit, and to the Hillbilly Rednecks for their championship win!

The Hillbilly Rednecks:

IMG_1329The Fire-breathing Bulldogs:


Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.


For our Grade 5 Science unit, Conservation of Energy and Resources, we read background information, watched educational videos, completed home energy surveys, and engaged in some fun hands-on learning.

The following pictures depict the class using wattage meters to determine how much energy a variety of small household appliances consume. Students found some of the results quite surprising. Many tended to overestimate the consumption of electronic devices, such as radios, pencil sharpeners and computers, while underestimating the consumption of heat-producing devices such as space heaters, toasters, blow dryers and kettles. Students were also surprised to find that the incandescent bulb that drew 60 watts of energy gave off the same amount of light as the compact fluorescent bulb that drew just 12 watts.

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We learned that "wattage" is not the whole story.  A device that consumes a great deal of energy but is only used for a few minutes at a time, such as a blow dryer, can actually use less energy per month than a lower-wattage television that is used for many hours each day. The same principal applies to large household appliances, which we explored using Hydro One's Appliance Calculator:

Our next hands-on energy project involved an outdoor demonstration of two renewable energy devices:

  • a small photoelectric solar panel that converts light from the sun into electricity to charge batteries;
  • a "biofuel" camp stove that converts heat from fire into electricity, to run an internal fan and to charge electronic devices.

This is a Goal Zero solar panel converting sunlight into electricity, to charge Mrs. Black's phone:



This is a Biolite camp stove, converting heat from burning twigs and pine cones into electricity to run its internal fan and to power an LED light. The stove can also charge USB devices, such as e-readers and smart phones.


The Biolite cooked us some delicious popcorn, too!:



Our final hands-on energy project involved building a variety of solar heaters and ovens.

IMG_1251 IMG_1252 IMG_1253 IMG_1254 IMG_1255 IMG_1259When the were finished, we tested our solar ovens and apple cookers in the schoolyard. We set our devices up just after 10 am. It was approximately 18C at the time. The high for the day was 20C. We checked our devices at 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.

At noon, the hottest oven ("The Mad Cooker") was 45C and the coolest oven (a larger, taller box) was 32C.  Students guessed that the taller box was not quite as hot because its sides were casting shadows into the box, and because the foil reflecting heat from above was crumpled. The foil on "The Mad Cooker" was smooth, reflecting more escaping heat back down into the box. At 2 p.m., the temperatures in the solar ovens were about two degrees lower than they were at noon. Students guessed that the peak temperature was at noon because the sun was highest in sky then.




Melted chocolate chips, in The Mad Cooker:




There were three apple cookers. Two were almost identical. The other one was lacking some black paper around the inner cup and had hole through bottom of the inner cup. At noon, the two identical cookers were 32C. The third cooker was 22C. As with the solar ovens, at 2 p.m. the apple cookers were all about two degrees lower than they were at noon.


At the end of our experiment, the apples were not cooked through but they were softer and warm:


At 12:00 p.m., the sun started shining on our west-facing classroom windows, so we mounted two window heaters that students had made, and started monitoring them. The temperature on the window sill, in the sun, was 24C. Both window heaters quickly obtained temperatures in excess of 40C. At 2:30 p.m., the deeper of the two boxes peaked at 67C; the shallower box at 54C. After 2:30 p.m., the temperature in both window heaters started to decline.


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Students enjoyed the opportunity to learn about energy use and alternative energy technology through hands-on projects. Their next step will be to consider how our class can encourage greater conservation of energy and resources, at home and school.

Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

IMG_0902We studied our Grade 5 Social Studies unit about government in September and the first half of October, during the run up to the federal election. As part of the unit, students learned about the campaign platforms of the four main federal parties, and decided what party's ideals most closely aligned with their own.

On October 14th, Grade 5-7 students at our school were given an opportunity to participate in a nation-wide student vote. Our polling station was run by Mr. Volgmann and several Grade 8 students. The ballots we used closely resembled the ones parents would be given, and listed all of our local candidates and their party affilations.

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IMG_0889 IMG_0890After our student poll had closed, Mr. Volgmann and the Grade 8 students counted the votes for each local candidate:

IMG_0896We then submitted our school results, so they could be tallied along with over 900,000 other student votes from across the country.

These are our school results (Grades 5-7 voting):


Bruce Stanton — Conservative Party of Canada = 21  (30%)
Liz Riley — Liberal Party of Canada = 18  (25%)
Peter Stubbins — Green Party of Canada = 17  (24%)
Richard Banigan — New Democratic Party = 13  (18%)
Other = 2  (3%)

And these are the adult voting results for our riding:

Bruce Stanton — Conservative Party of Canada = 24,810  (44%)
Liz Riley — Liberal Party of Canada = 22,714  (40%)
Richard Banigan — New Democratic Party = 6,030  (11%)
Peter Stubbins — Green Party of Canada = 2,537  (4%)

Other =  944  (1%)

Click on the photo below to see Peter Mansbridge's comparison of nationwide results from Student Vote 2015 and the 2015 General Election:


We want to thank our librarian, Mr. Volgmann, and the Grade 8 students for running our school's polling station. Student Vote added a fun and exciting element to our study of government.


November 4, 2015:  Today we invited the Grade 4 class to join us, as we watched a live stream of the our new Prime MInister's swearing in ceremony.



Thank you for visiting our class BLOG.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free e-mail me (Margaret Black): or to add a comment to this page.

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