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New trustees bring student voice to Grand Erie board

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Three new student trustees will be taking their seats at the Grand Erie District School Board table for the 2021-22 school year.

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Carson Kitchen, a Grade 11 student at Simcoe Composite School, was acclaimed as student trustee for Haldimand and Norfolk counties; Sierra Green, a Grade 12 student at McKinnon Park Secondary School in Caledonia, has been elected to represent Indigenous students across Grand Erie; and Reilly Mitchell, a Grade 11 student at North Park Collegiate, was elected to represent Brantford and Brant County.

Kitchen, whose post-secondary plans include earning a business degree at the Royal Military College of Canada, said being a student trustee is “an excellent opportunity to represent the student voice at a higher level.”

He said his main goal is to improve the school board’s environmental footprint through a series of initiatives.

“I recognize that our current practices are not sustainable and must be changed. In addition, I would like to ensure all board decisions are made keeping the equity of students in mind,” said Kitchen.

“In consulting with some students, we believe teachers/administration need training that is more streamlined with today’s societal beliefs. This includes gender pronouns, mental health, and Indigenous education.”

Green, who plans to return to high school for a fifth year, said she wants to be a voice for the local Indigenous population and “make them feel safe and cared for, as well as to make them feel confident and see the importance of using their voice.”

She said she feels the most important issue facing students is the stress of continuing their education through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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“The stress is a big thing when you’re trying to do and be the best you can regarding your education. And now, with shorter timeframes (quadmesters), it can get pretty overwhelming.”

Mitchell, who plans to pursue post-secondary studies and then a career in real estate, said he wants to “communicate the students’ voice in a strong way.”

“I want to be able to advocate for my peers and those attending Grand Erie schools, giving them a voice that will be heard. I am driven to make it clear that everyone has a voice and that every voice will be heard, now directly at the board level through me.”

Mitchell said that, from a student’s perspective, the most important education issue is the “lack of motivation for many.”

“Having a quadmester (full day of one class for a week straight, a system put in place during the pandemic) pushes many students to lose their motivation. That is especially prevalent when there are not any extracurriculars, such as sports and clubs, to keep them interested, or even give them an avenue of relief from schoolwork.”

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