Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Local student to be page at Queen’s Park

Mira Donaldson said she “couldn’t really believe it” when she was notified in January that she had been selected to serve as a page at Queen’s Park in Toronto.
“I was really excited,” enthused the Grade 7 student from Robert Moore School here.

“I wanted a challenge and I wanted the experience of being a page,” she noted.
Donaldson, who seems well beyond her 12 years both academically and personally, will begin her five-week stint at Queen’s Park this coming Monday (March 17).
Having been required to submit an application, which included an essay outlining her achievements, involvements, and suitability for the program, it’s no wonder the blonde-haired youth was chosen.
“I’m a very active girl,” Donaldson’s essay reads, noting by age 11 she had all her swimming badges and plays softball in an American league.
She also is member of her school’s volleyball, basketball, and cross-country teams.
As well, Donaldson is adept in music and art, playing piano, violin, flute, trumpet, and trombone, in addition to singing.
She has taken sewing classes, making both clothing and bags, and writes her own poetry and stories.
She currently is writing her seventh book, though none are published as of yet.
Donaldson also maintains an academic average of 80 percent or higher, which is required for the page program.
At age 10, Donaldson was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which has shown her what she wants to do with her life.
“I’m dedicated to my goal of being an endocrinologist and finding a cure for diabetes,” she explained in her essay, adding she is a unique person and comfortable with the fact that she is not a regular kid.
“To be a page at Queen’s Park would be an incredible experience,” she continued. “I would add to my knowledge of the government, and it would be unforgettable.
“Being a page is something I’ll have with me the rest of my life,” Donaldson added. “Something that will help me in the future, and something that will shape and build my character even more.”
Since being accepted for the program, Donaldson has been preparing for her post. For instance, she has to learn the faces, names, and locations of the 107 MPPs before her first day.
“I know the opposition and some of the Liberals,” she noted last week, saying she’s about 80 percent of the way there.
Donaldson also had to purchase black leather shoes and a white shirt with a stiff collar, in addition to attending an orientation session in Toronto at that end of February.
“The respect that they show the pages is incredible—the staff, the MPPs,” said Donaldson’s mom, Kelly Spicer.
“And it’s nice for those kids,” she added. “They are all achievers and it’s very nice that they are respected.”
During a typical day in the program, Donaldson, along with the other 22 pages, will arrive at Queen’s Park at 8 a.m. dressed in their uniforms—black jacket, pants, and vest which are provided to them.
Then they prepare the Legislative Chamber for the morning’s debates.
“I’ll be delivering different documents and getting glasses of water,” Donaldson explained, noting she’ll also be taking classes in legislative process and mathematics, as well as meeting with key legislative players.
“Probably at least twice she’ll get to be the captain—that’s when she’ll follow right with the Speaker of the House,” Spicer said.
“I’m really excited for the whole opportunity,” Donaldson enthused, adding that attending the orientation session left her less nervous than she had been.
“All the other pages were nervous, too, so I realized I’m not the only one,” she explained.
Spicer called the program “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“It’s a privilege,” echoed her dad, Guy Donaldson.
“They are there to serve parliament and the people of Ontario.”
Mira Donaldson, meanwhile, said her classmates at Robert Moore are now interested in the program.
“None of them had heard of it before but they were all really excited for me,” she remarked.
“The nice thing is they are planning to watch it online or on TV in class, so they’ll have a chance to learn about what she’s doing, too,” her dad noted.
“The school has been very supportive,” said Spicer, noting it was her daughter’s teacher three years ago who had first mentioned the page program to them.
“And we’re very fortunate that she said something to us back then.”
Spicer also said with all the hype in the government currently, this stint of pages has a chance to be really exciting.
“They’ll know before us if there is an election called or the budget goes through,” she noted, adding if an election is called, her daughter’s time as a page will wrap up early.
“If the government falls, that’s supposed to be pretty exciting, too,” Donaldson said.
“We just hope it doesn’t happen too quickly.”
“If it happen towards the end, like in my last week, that would be okay,” reasoned Mira Donaldson.
“It would be quite an experience in itself.”

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