QUEEN’S PARK—An Assiginack Public School Grade 8 student is embarking on the adventure of a lifetime as she takes up her duties as a legislative page today (Wednesday, September 19). Jocelyn Kuntsi will be serving in her capacity for a month of the fall session of the legislature.
“I have been selected to serve as a legislative page at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in Toronto from Wednesday September 19 until October 4,” said Ms. Kuntsi. “I will serve as a messenger on the floor of the Legislative Chamber, meet parliamentary figures and learn about Ontario’s parliamentary system of government.”
Ms. Kuntsi admits to being pretty excited about her upcoming duties, but there has been plenty of homework leading up to standing with the Speaker in the legislature.
“I earned my spot in the program by submitting an application that included an essay outlining my achievements, involvements and suitability for the program,” she supplied. “I especially highlighted my ballet, theatre, piano and working with Me to We. Since I was accepted into the program, I have had to study and learn the faces, names and locations of the 107 MPPs before they arrived at Queen’s Park for their first day.”
Ms. Kuntsi will likely be making some new friends over the next month. “We all come from across the province to be together at Queen’s Park,” she said. “We will develop long lasting friendships and meet fellow students with similar interests as they participate in this unique educational program. It will be very interesting and rewarding to work with other people from around Ontario.”
“During a typical day in the program, I will arrive at Queen’s Park at approximately 8 am, dress in my uniform and then prepare the Legislative Chamber for the morning’s debates. As the day progresses, I will be involved in a number of activities including delivering water and messages for the MPPs in the chamber, taking classes in legislative process and mathematics and meeting with key legislative players such as the party leaders and the Speaker of the House.”
The Legislative Page Program was open to students like Ms. Kuntsi who are in Grades 7 or 8. “I had to have an average of 80 percent or higher and get along well with my peers and adults,” she said. “My application had to be submitted before June 15.” For those seeking to serve in later segments of the legislative session, the due date is November 15.
“Getting into the program wasn’t the hardest part,” said Ms. Kuntsi. “I think that all of the studying was a lot more work leading up to September. I am very excited for the new experience and hope to make lots of connections with kids around Ontario, as well as some MPPs.”
According to the Ontario government website, “each year approximately 150 young students from across Ontario are selected to participate in Ontario’s Legislative Page Program. This unique educational experience for Ontario students in Grades 7 or 8 provides an opportunity to experience the provincial legislature in action and forge new lifelong friendships with peers from all over province.”
The legislative page program is designed for outgoing, high-achieving, community-involved students who have demonstrated responsibility and leadership. Legislative Pages meet key parliamentary and political figures and learn first-hand about Ontario’s Parliament and the legislative process.
Ms. Kuntsi’s educational progress won’t be in jeopardy. While at Queen’s Park, legislative pages are under the direction of the Page Program Coordinator, a certified Ontario teacher. But the gig has a financial bonus. Pages receive an honorarium of $15 per day during their term of duty.