MP Jamie Schmale welcomed Haliburton Highlands Secondary School students Kurtis Adams left and Josie Quigley to Parliament Hill a few weeks ago as part of the annual Capital Experience. The two local students were part of a 14 student contingent who toured Ottawa to learn about post-secondary school career options. /Photo submitted.

High school students discover new world in Ottawa

By Darren Lum

Published Nov. 28 2018

Exposing secondary school students to new career opportunities is at the heart of the annual Capital Experience outreach program for students.

Two Haliburton Highlands Secondary School students Josie Quigley and Kurtis Adams were part of a contingent of 14 students who visited Ottawa on the trip facilitated by MP Jamie Schmale’s office from Oct. 21 to 23.

The students spent three days in the national capital attending meetings with the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates; the chief herald of Canada; the registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada; Andrew Scheer the leader of the Official Opposition; as well as Tim Powers and Katlyn Harrison of Summa Strategies Canada a government relations firm.

Kurtis who is in Grade 12 is hoping to become a lawyer. He has travelled to Ottawa in the past with his family but has never seen the nation’s capital like he did last month.

It was “really eye-opening. There are so many cool jobs that I didn’t know about” he said.

He appreciated the special meetings particularly with the registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada Roger Bilodeau who is responsible for overall administration of the office under the direction of the chief justice.

At the beginning of Question Period Schmale introduced the 14 students in the gallery naming each one. Kurtis called the moment “surreal.” The representatives waved to the students who waved back from the gallery.

He was surprised by how much the MPs argued for their party and the “almost juvenile” behaviour he witnessed such as out of turn shouting by the political representatives.

“I’m still intrigued by it. It’s a super interesting place” he said.

He said he’s interested in politics as a career and that Schmale may have competition. Currently Kurtis is serving on the school’s athletic council.

He said a trip to Parliament Hill is a must for anyone interested in politics or other related careers. Getting the first-hand glimpse of life on the hill was a great experience due in large part to the people he met. They included professionals and other students representing the entire political spectrum. Schmale said he appreciates being able to interact with the students through the trip.

“This is really a wonderful opportunity for me to work directly with some of our youth” said Schmale in a press release. “The program provides them with potential career opportunities they may not have previously considered or been aware of.”

The Capital Experience was supported by service clubs Legions and local businesses.

“A number of sponsors stepped forward to support a student from their community” said Schmale. “I want to thank them for helping me to make these young people more aware of the career options available to them.”