Empowering student voice: meet your 2023 student trustees
Representing student voice across the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington (PVNC) Catholic District School board, student trustees Madelyn Gaskell and Claire Heitzner are ready to represent students across all age groups to encourage empowerment and involvement in Board-level activities.
Madelyn Gaskell, this year’s senior student trustee, is entering her Grade 12 year at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School with a clear vision. She is determined to not only maintain her impressive academic record but also to contribute significantly to her school community. Her passion for leadership and advocacy has been a driving force throughout her school career. Gaskell believes that being a student trustee is the perfect platform to extend her advocacy work. She stated, “throughout the entirety of my school career, I have found myself drawn to positions and opportunities that involved leadership and advocacy work. Given that my passions lie in these areas, the senior student trustee position felt like the perfect next step for me.”
Gaskell has already gained valuable experience from her previous year at the board table as junior student trustee and is ready to take on the role with even more confidence. She is eager to act as a megaphone for student issues and concerns, ensuring that they receive the attention they deserve. Madelyn will also lead the Student Council Liaison Committee and is excited about the planning stages of their annual retreat. “I have no doubt that this remarkable group of student leaders will organize a fantastic event no one will want to miss,” she added.
Her long-term dreams involve attending Guelph University next fall and pursuing a career that reflects her love for leadership.
Student trustees take part in all public meetings of the Board, participate with other trustees in discussions, provide reports to the Board, and represent student positions. They do not vote on issues. The Student Liaison Committee, which includes the student trustees, junior and senior reps from all six secondary schools in the Board, a trustee, principals and the director of education, meets monthly to discuss student issues. Issues that are generated at the Student Liaison Committee are brought to the Board of Trustees via the student trustees.
Claire Heitzner, this year’s junior student trustee, is equally enthusiastic about her role. In Grade 11 at St. Stephen Catholic Secondary School, Heitzner has set ambitious goals for the year ahead. She is not only an active member of her school community but is also a multi-talented individual, participating in various activities such as being a member of her school’s band and drama club, playing hockey, horseback riding, and practicing aerial arts (dance).
Heitzner’s motivation to run for student trustee stems from her desire to foster a more positive learning atmosphere and to ensure that the student voice is represented at the board level. She shared, “I hope to help foster and create an even more positive environment and learning atmosphere. I can’t wait to work alongside Maddy, my co-student trustee, and other student leaders within the PVNC Catholic community to advocate for students’ needs.”
Heitzner’s extensive involvement in her school community has allowed her to gain insight and connect with fellow students in various ways. As a French immersion student, she is particularly committed to addressing any issues or difficulties that language immersion students might face.
Looking ahead, Heitzner is excited about planning the student council retreat alongside the Student Liaison Committee, attending OSTA-AECO (Ontario Student Trustees’ Association) conferences, and connecting with student leaders from across the province. She has her sights set on a career as a teacher, with a specific interest in kindergarten education.
About The Student Council Liaison Committee
The Student Council Liaison Committee includes the student trustees, junior and senior reps from all six secondary schools in the Board, a trustee, principals and the director of education, who meet monthly to discuss student issues. Issues that are generated at the Student Liaison Committee are brought to the Board of Trustees via the student trustees. The committee is composed of a junior (Gr. 11) and a senior (Gr. 12) representative from each PVNC Catholic Secondary School. Members represent the student voice at the Board level and have the opportunity to participate in special board-wide events.
Each year, the Student Council Liaison Committee and Student Trustee(s) plan four events for the student councils from across the board to meet with one another. Read the first volume of the student handbook created by previous Senior Student Trustee Siobhan Marie based from the first meeting themed “Voices that Accompany: Being Creative”.