McKenna Begin will be representing all students in her new role as student trustee on the Rainy River District School Board for the 2015-16 term.
And the Grade 12 student at Fort Frances High School is excited about the opportunity.
“I think it is such a good role,” Begin remarked.
“I think it’s good that the students have a voice and can bring things to the attention of the board,” she noted.
“Like if things are working well or if they are not working well, or if we have something we need to change.”
Ontario students have a direct voice in decision-making through their student trustees, who sit on every school board in the province.
Student trustees have the same opportunity for input as other trustees, although they do not have a vote.
The student trustee is selected by a process determined by each school district.
At the local board, the trustee is chosen from a different school in the district on a rotating basis.
For instance, last year’s student trustee was Jeffrey Marchuk from Rainy River High School.
The year before that, it was Leah Fraser from Atikokan High School.
This year, the student trustee was set to be a senior student from Fort High and Begin was chosen.
And she feels FFHS principal Peg Keffer made the right choice.
“I’m the head of student council this year at the high school,” Begin noted.
“I think she chose me because I’ve always been a good student and this is something I’d be interested in doing.”
She remembered being called into Keffer’s office late last school year.
“I wasn’t sure what was going on,” she admitted, noting Keffer and vice-principal Shane Bliss outlined the role of the student trustee.
“They asked if it would be something I was interested in because they wanted me to do it.
“I was really grateful,” Begin added. “She [Keffer] thought about me out of everyone in the school to do this.
“I guess everything I’ve been doing is really good.”
“She is a positive voice in our school who is approachable and will be an asset to our students as a whole,” Keffer noted.
Begin agreed to take on the role, and Director of Education Heather Campbell came to the high school to give her more information.
“I need to have a meeting with the student councils from Atikokan and Rainy River High Schools,” she explained.
“It’s called a ‘Student Senate’ meeting. We’ll do that [via] teleconference each month.
“We’ll talk about what we are doing in our schools and stuff that needs to be brought to the attention of the board,” she noted.
Begin then will prepare a presentation and present it at the board meeting each month.
In addition, she will travel to Toronto in January with Campbell to attend a public education symposium.
“I looking forward to it,” Begin enthused, noting she wants to make her presentations to the board fun and upbeat.
“I think it’s important for them to have a student on the board because what they are doing is ultimately for the students,” she reasoned.
Begin attended her first board meeting last week, when she took her oath of office.
“I think it went really well,” she remarked.
“It was long and I was really nervous at first, but I think it went well.”
Board chair Dianne McCormack said Begin’s opinions will be valued just as much, if not more so, than the adult trustees.
“We look forward to your participation here,” she told Begin.