Reprinted from the Regina Leader Post

Seated across a Regina boardroom, 10 young women avidly discussed their new student-led organization, which they believe will have a real impact on education.

They’ve called themselves STRIVE — the Student Trustee Representative Initiative for Voice and Engagement — and in three weeks they will have a place at the Regina Catholic School Board table.

At the group’s third meeting on Tuesday, the high school students got a briefing on how those board meetings work, but most of their time was spent making big plans.

They immediately jumped into defining their roles, then discussed which social media platforms they should use to communicate with students and parents.

Meanwhile, Kelley Ehman, superintendent of education services for RCSD, observed with a smile and a shrug: “They don’t need us.”

The two student trustees from LeBoldus have already surveyed 192 students at their school about their thoughts on Catholic education.

The group is eager to make a difference. In a first-draft mission statement, they cite the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: “Children have the right to say what they think in all matters affecting them.”

“It’s really proving that quote, because we’re taking power from a younger standpoint and putting it into the meetings, and although it’s nerve-racking, it’s showing how we can have power too,” said Karlee Cooper, a Grade 10 student from Riffel.

“Yeah, I think it’s important that we have a voice in our education,” added Camryn McCrystal, a Grade 12 student at Riffel.

“Every big idea starts small, and just to have one foot in there to help out is pretty awesome.”

“Students can feel kind of disheartened that they’re not being taken seriously,” said Miller student Bronwyn Heerspink.

The students, who will alternate attendance at the board meetings beginning Feb. 5, have noticed that there are common issues at their four high schools. Those observations relate to some of their early plans.

STRIVE hopes to better inform students and families about transitioning from elementary school to high school, and from high school to university.

There are also plans for parent presentations on technology and mental health.

Meanwhile, the group is working on its own mission and belief statement, policies and a logo.

“The communication aspect and getting them involved and ready for board presentations, that’s the big part for them right now,” said Ehman.

“Our hope is to connect our schools more than they already are.”

Their main focus is a video project to promote Catholic education, for which STRIVE members will interview some fellow students at the four Catholic high schools.

“I am not baptised Catholic and attending a Catholic school, so the videos that we’re working on right now really hit home for me,” said McCrystal.

“I started my Catholic education going into Grade 4, and I think that every individual should have the opportunity to attend a Catholic school. … It’s just broadened my perspective and I’m super thankful that I’ve been able to attend.”

STRIVE also includes lone male Ryan Farris, and Jensyn Semchuk (Miller), Anika Farrell and Angie Rutera (LeBoldus), Ava Breker, Hailey Link and Karrah Derenisky (O’Neill), and Ashley Fisher (Riffel).

Regina Catholic is not the first Saskatchewan school division to have student trustees.

The Saskatchewan Rivers School Board in Prince Albert and area has had students on its board for three years.

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