Student voice doubles at PVNC

student trustees' profile images

Student voice has doubled at the PVNC Board level this year.

For the first time, two student trustees – a junior and a senior – will sit at the monthly Board of Trustees meetings, representing the Board’s student body.

And the Student Liaison Committee has grown as well, increasing from seven to 12 students, including a junior and senior member from each of the Board’s secondary schools.

“Student voice, it’s very important,” said new Senior Student Trustee Winston Steward. “There are a lot of students at the Board and each of them has their own opinion on how things should run. Ultimately the school system is made for student success, so having their input of what would help them achieve that success is very important.”

Steward, a Grade 12 student at St. Thomas Aquinas CCS in Lindsay, was a member of the Student Liaison Committee last year. He closely watched outgoing Student Trustee Zachary Smith, who now attends RMC in Kingston after graduating from St. Stephen CSS in Bowmanville, and hopes to keep the momentum going into this school year.

“Zach was very good at leading and helping others participate. It made me enjoy being there and made me want to share more and do more,” Steward said. “That really inspired me to follow in his footsteps and learn and talk more about what’s actually happening in our schools.”

Calahndra (Cali) Brake, a Grade 11 student at Holy Cross CSS in Peterborough, will take her seat as this year’s Junior Student Trustee.

“I have always been interested in expressing my voice and I have always tried to self-identify as a leader,” Brake said. “I’m going to take the year working with Winston to do my best to fulfill the role and learn everything that I can, so next year when I myself am mentoring a junior trustee, I’m able to help them as best as I can.”

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 also includes Director of Education Michael Nasello and Northumberland Trustee David Bernier, meets monthly to discuss student issues.

Brake is an avid athlete, who grew up playing soccer, hockey and rugby. She hopes to add lacrosse to the list this year and plans to participate in the school’s musical as part of the behind-the-scenes technical crew. Her favourite subject is science.

“I have always excelled in science. There is so much that goes on that we don’t know about. Science gives us a behind-the-scenes look at everything that we take for granted,”she said, adding that she’s interested in pursuing a career in health sciences.

Steward has always taken on an active participation role at school. He plays volleyball, basketball and badminton. He’s a member of his school’s Link Program, which mentors Grade 9s and helps them ease into high school life, and he has been on school council for several years.

Expanding his network of friends to other secondary schools in the Board has been a rewarding part of his Student Liaison Committee experience, he said.

“Being a liaison, you get to hear many different ideas from the other schools. I love being part of those discussions. They all have great ideas that can be shared and adopted,” he said.

Both Steward and Brake are looking forward to organizing the annual PVNC Student Leadership retreat in November.

“I hope to really inspire the student leaders to be active in their school communities, be out there, show their face,” Steward said. “Student council is a great way to share their student voices from their school, so being out in the open, talking to students, really hearing what they have to say is really important.”