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Pembroke student served as page in Legislative Assembly

By Celina Ip

Olivia Groskleg, a Grade 8 student at Centre Scolaire Catholique Jeanne-Lajoie, served as a page for at the Legislative Assembly in Toronto this year.

Olivia Groskleg, a Grade 8 student at Centre Scolaire Catholique Jeanne-Lajoie, served as a page for at the Legislative Assembly in Toronto this year.

A local student has completed a new chapter in her school career as a Queen’s Park Legislative Page.

 

Olivia Groskleg, a Grade 8 student at Centre Scolaire Catholique Jeanne-Lajoie, was among a select group of Ontario students to be awarded a four-week term to serve as a Legislative Page at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in Toronto.

Pages have been an important part of Ontario’s legislature since Confederation. During their term of duty, the Page serves as a messenger on the floor of the Legislative Chamber, meets key parliamentary figures and learns about Ontario’s parliamentary system of government. Each year, about 60 students – in Grades 7 or 8 – from across Ontario are selected to participate in the program, with only 20 candidates taking part in each session.

The application and selection process is highly competitive, as the program is designed for outgoing, high-achieving, community-involved students who have demonstrated responsibility and leadership.

In order to be considered for the page program, students must be in Grade 7 or 8 and have an academic average of 80 per cent or higher. The applicants should also be involved in a variety of extracurricular and community-based activities, demonstrate leadership skills and have an interest current affairs.

This year, 300 students from across Ontario applied for the program, but following the rigorous selection process, Olivia Groskleg was among the mere 20 who were accepted.

Over the past few years, four of the six Groskleg children have applied and been fortunate enough to be selected for the program, with Olivia being the fourth and most recent to take part.

“Olivia was a little scared to wish for it too hard because three had already gotten accepted from our family so what was the chance of another – we were all pretty shocked that she got accepted too,” said Jennifer Groskleg, Olivia’s mom. “We're very proud that they were all accepted as they are very dedicated girls, they work hard in school, they are involved with extra-curriculars and every sport they can at school, they volunteer and they teach horseback-riding. What they do, they do as much as they can and do it very well.”

After hearing about Olivia’s acceptance into the program, her mom contacted MPP John Yakabuski’s office to inform him of the good news.

“A couple of years ago after our daughter Sydney went into the program, John Yakasbuski's office told me that nowhere in Ontario had they had four girls from the same family accepted for this page program. He had told us that Olivia could apply in two years and if she got in, it will break a record for us,” said Jennifer. “So I called his office and said "could you just let Mr Yakabuski know that there’s another Groskleg daughter that will be joining him at Queen's Park.”

Prior to beginning the program, Olivia had to study and learn the faces, names and seating locations of the 107 MPP’s before arriving at Queen’s Park for the first day.

After prepping for the program with the rigorous studies, the Jeanne-Lajoie student packed her bags and headed off to Toronto.

Taking place from Sept. 11 to Oct. 5, Olivia joined the 19 other pages – representing different ridings across Ontario – to engage in the unique Legislative Page program at Queen’s Park in Toronto.

Throughout the four-week program, the pages served a simple but highly important role, with duties that included running errands, delivering messages and grabbing water for the members of provincial parliament. Pages also formally participated in parliamentary procedure by delivering bills, motions, petitions and official House documents according to parliamentary rules.

“We were sort of like waitresses because we'd deliver water to them, deliver notes to another MPP or someone throughout the Legislative building, we'd make photocopies or print out forms for them and we'd sometimes have to get their phones from their office and bring it to them inside the chamber,” said Olivia.

While fulfilling their duties, the pages had opportunities to meet over 100 parliamentary and political figures, and they learned first-hand about Ontario’s parliament and the legislative process.

“One of the highlights was that we got to meet Premier Kathleen Wynne and Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell and we got to have lunch with the speaker and the main clerk,” said Olivia.

Olivia said that she was excited to get a first-hand look at how government works and functions.

“I learned how they make a law, how the day will go, how they choose which MPPs will be inside the Legislative Chamber and at what time – because they all have assigned times throughout the week to come into the chamber,” said Olivia.

Along with the educational aspect of the program, the pages enjoyed a weekly field trip every Friday to places that included the Ripley’s Aquarium, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Aga Khan Museum.

After completing the program, Groskleg received a letter from Legislative Page Program Coordinator Rachel Colley who wrote that Groskleg had demonstrated outstanding maturity, responsibility and a high standard of performance throughout the program.

“The duties of a Legislative Page are very demanding. Pages are ex0ected to exercise good judgment, tact and diplomacy when dealing with unpredictable situations that may arise in the Legislative Chamber and when interacting with Members of Provincial Parliament and the Officers of the House,” wrote Colley. “When preparing the Chamber for the daily meetings of the legislature, Olivia performed her duties efficiently and professionally. As a Legislative Page, a high standard of performance is expected, and Olivia certainly met these standards.”

 

cip@postmedia.com