First student to serve two terms on school board reflects on experience

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

She has made history by being the first student trustee to serve for two terms on the Rainy River District School Board (RRDSB).

At just 17 years old, Olivia Kreger is a leader who takes pride in what she does, from community work to sitting on the board and representing other students.

“I am a very adventurous person, and I love the outdoors,” Kreger said. “I am a very kind and caring person.”

Kreger’s interest in sitting on the school board stems from her passion of helping students of visible minorities and voicing their concerns.

“I knew that I could make a change and help them be represented at the board level and make sure that all student voices are heard, not just the student voice of the general population, but everybody,” Kreger said. “That’s what made me so interested in it, because I got to help so many people.”

Kreger’s first term on the board was in 2019-2020, when she was just 16 years old. Sitting on the board for two consecutive terms, she said, has helped her prepare the upcoming student trustee for the position.

“I also got to know the board members a lot better and so I was more confident speaking to the group themselves and to the general public as well,” Kreger said.

As a student trustee, Kreger was responsible for chairing Student Senate meetings. The Student Senate is a group of very diverse students from across the RRDSB from grade 9 to 12.

“We would do things like policy review, talk about changes in the schools and what we could do to make school environments better,” Kreger said. “And then my other roles were to give the student trustee update at the board meetings every month and attend special board meetings. I was always invited to join any of the committee meetings and give feedback.”

Even though other trustees were not within the same age bracket as Kreger, she was able to understand them clearly by communicating with them and fostering strong professional relationships.

“I found that the members of the board and the people that sat on the board of trustees were very kind and understanding,” Kreger said. “Even though they are adults, they do take the student trustees and the students’ opinions seriously because they know that the end goal of their job is to help all the students on the board.”

The challenging part, Kreger said, was that she had to communicate the same ideas to the students, staff and the board members all at the same time. She said having the communication skills she gained as a result of being a student trustee will help her in the future.

“I take great pride in being able to talk to many people and being able to walk in somebody else’s shoes, because of the school board job,” Kreger said. “It really helped me understand how others feel. Sometimes you just need a little bit of help and you need the right people to get the message across.”

Someone Kreger said she looks up to is Kathryn Pierroz because of her willingness to help others.

“She knows how to voice her opinion very well and her confidence just blows me away,” Kreger said. “I’ve really looked up to her and her mentorship when I was sitting on the board.”

Students considering being trustees with the board should be confident when applying and interviewing for the job, Kreger said, adding that confidence is key and the board members will see when you’re confident about something.

Olivia Kreger

“It’s kind of a daunting job if you’re not confident about what you’re doing,” Kreger said.

Kreger will be studying forestry at Confederation College in Thunder Bay.

“I decided to go for this major because of working at Caliper Lake. I’ve always had a great love of the outdoors. It’s a great program opportunity because it has mandatory paid summer Co-op. And that really was the deciding factor whether I went to college or university.”

The two terms Kreger served on the board were full of learning, growing and reflecting. She said one of the most rewarding parts was getting to work with the Student Senate. They used to meet on a monthly basis, review policies and talk about changes to the schools.

“I’m very grateful that I was able to get the position as a student trustee because it helped me learn so much and I got to meet so many people that can help me later in life and advance, especially in a career,” Kreger said. “I have great references and I have made friends that will last for a long time.”