By: Danica MacLean

The junior class from Poroti School headed along to Whangarei District Council yesterday to experience life as a councillor.

Mayor Sheryl Mai and deputy mayor Sharon Morgan greeted the budding councillors for the first ever mock council meeting for students.

Between the students, aged between 5 and 9, there was a mayor, a council secretary and 10 “deputy mayor” councillors.

Council secretary Lola Monos and mayor Mariam Chaudhry looked the part in their temporary roles. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Before the formal proceedings could begin, mayor Mariam Chaudhry had to get decked out in the mayoral robes and become acquainted with the gavel.

After taking her seat at the head of the room, council secretary Lola Monos slotted in beside her. With the help of Ms Mai, Miss Chaudhry welcomed everybody and declared the meeting open.

There was just one item on the mock agenda – to decide between two playground options for a theoretical replacement playground in the town basin.

The councillors, who are in years zero to four and make up around half their school’s roll, favoured playground A.

It’s main drawcard was the slides, but the fact it had a shelter, a bridge and seemed safer for younger children all played a part.

In the end, the vote was unanimous.

Miss Chaudhry said she was “a bit nervous” about being mayor.

But despite the oversize robes and the “really, really loud” gavel, the 8-year-old enjoyed being mayor, and thought she might like to do it for real one day.

After learning about the mayoral chains and previous mayors, the new councillors enjoyed a quick snack before a trip to the mayor’s office and to see the tapestry in the foyer.

Teacher Shara Lawrence-Knapp said the students were really engaged.

The visit was part of their topic for the year: who are we?

In term one the students investigated their own personal details, likes and dislikes and their goals. In term two they focused on their families – who is in them, how they came to be in Poroti as well as their school and its history.

Now for the third term they are looking at their community and some of the occupations which are out there.

They have a trip booked for nearly every two weeks and next up is the fire station.

“It’s giving them an opportunity to look at things they might not get to do,” Mrs Lawrence-Knapp said.

At the end of the visit, almost all the stand-in councillors said they wanted to be mayor one day.

Source: Northern Advocate

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