Central Alberta students say they appreciate Alberta Education’s effort to bring together a diverse group of students to share opinions about the education system.
Abby Shaver and Jersey Magtangob with Chinook’s Edge School Division, and Savannah Mowat with Red Deer Public Schools, are among the 40 junior and senior high school students from across the province invited to be part of the 2022-23 Minister’s Youth Council to gather student input on provincial education initiatives.
Shaver, a Grade 11 student at Ecole H.J Cody High School in Sylvan Lake, said she was very impressed when students introduced themselves at their first meeting in October.
“It’s very racially diverse. There’s lots of LGBTQ youth on the council. There’s so many diverse perspectives. That has definitely not disappointed,” Shaver said.
She said there are students on the council from all kinds of private and public schools, as well as a few home school students.
Magtangob, a Grade 11 student at Sundre High School, said students know that sharing different perspectives is helpful.
“We’re all on the same page. We all like to listen to each other, and see what’s up. We definitely take it all in,” Magtangob said.
Students gathered for an online meeting in October, with more planned next year, hopefully in person.
Shaver said students have already been able to raise issues that concern them. For her, it’s about making school a place where students who don’t excel academically can still find their niche, and she participated in a discussion about creating more dual credit options and adding more life skills courses.
Funding for rural schools to ensure rural students have the same opportunities as urban students was another important topic discussed, she added.
Magtangob said so far topics have focused more on funding, but not so much that it overshadows other issues. As the council continues its work, she expects there will be more opportunity to look at challenges students have identified, like discrimination against minorities and the way schools handle post-secondary planning.
She encouraged students around the province to reach out to the council with their concerns.
“I just want them to know there are people working hard to have their voice heard, and no matter what your problem is, we will try and figure it out.”
Magtangob said the 2021-22 council helped change the weighting of diploma exams during the pandemic, and the 2022-23 council will make its mark on the education system.
Shaver said students should consider applying to sit on the next council to speak their mind about education in their community and province.
“Any opportunity to do that is so important because it impacts your life, it impacts your friends lives,” Shaver said.