By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
A high school student in Oshawa is heading to Queen’s Park as a member of the provincial legislature – but only for a few days.
Archana Jagannathan, a Grade 10 student at O’Neill CVI, was recently selected to participate in the 2020 Model Parliament Program from Feb. 26 to 28.
The program is run by the staff at Queen’s Park, who pick one youth from every riding to participate.
The students from between Grades 10 and 12 come together and debate a bill and get the experience of the Ontario Legislature.
Jagannathan participated in the one-month Queen’s Park Page Program while she was in Grade 8, and says she was inspired by the program to participate again – this time as a MPP, but not for Oshawa.
The high school student says she will be representing the riding of Haliburton- Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
While she says she hasn’t met Oshawa’s MPP Jennifer French, she has met Whitby MPP Lorne Coe, as she used to live in the town.
To apply, Jagannathan explains students were required to write an essay explaining why they would be a good candidate for the program, what leadership experience they’ve had, and why they’re interested in participating in politics.
“Based on that, they’ll pick who they think would be best to represent [a riding],” she says.
While she is excited for the experience, Jagannathan explains the page program was quite different for her.
“You got to sit in while it was actually happening, you met all the MPPs, you got to talk to them, and then you got to actually serve while they were debating a bill,” she explains.
Aside from an interest in politics, Jagannathan has played competitive tennis for eight years. She also participates in Indian dance, piano, swimming and other sports.
In her free time she loves to draw, and says since her school has a strong visual arts department, so she gets plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Her parents have been incredibly supportive of her participation in political programs.
“They’re the ones who pushed me to do the page program, and at the time I wasn’t too interested in it, but now I totally want to [participate in Model Parliament] and they’re very supportive of it,” she says.
She adds her classmates weren’t familiar with the program, but after she told them about it, they’re interested in trying it out as well.
Being in the youngest grade eligible for the program, Jagannathan says she didn’t expect to be selected the first time she applied.
“It was more just to try applying. I was going to do it every year, but then I made it and it was a surprise to me,” she says.
She admits she’s pretty nervous because most of the students selected are in their final year of high school, and not their second.
Still she says she’s also excited and thinks it will be “cool to try it out.”