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Catholic student trustees learning valuable lessons

Jaiya Joseph of St. Ignatius and St. Patrick classmates Felicity King and Andrew Tassone are serving one-year terms with the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board.
Jaiya Joseph of St. Ignatius, left, Felicity King of St. Patrick and Andrew Tassone of St. Patrick are this year's student trustees for the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board.

THUNDER BAY — As the 2023-24 school year enters its second month, the student trustees for the Thunder Bay Catholic District School board have been keeping busy.

Jaiya Joseph of St. Ignatius and St. Patrick classmates Felicity King and Andrew Tassone have been taking part in board meetings since studies resumed and have also attended provincial conferences.

“I think it’s been a good experience so far,” Joseph said. “I’ve definitely been able to advocate for a lot of student needs and concerns and I’ve liked going to the conferences as well.

“It’s been a really good opportunity to meet the other student trustees and also gain a better understanding of what it’s like to be in that role.”

“I’ve really enjoyed meeting people with the city and across the province, especially those who are like me,” Tassone added.

“Not only do I have an opportunity to advocate for my peers, but I’m able to inform them of the decisions that are ultimately going to affect them.”

King, who is the Indigenous student trustee, admitted that she was a little scared to submit her application for the position earlier this year.

“One of my teachers walked me down to the guidance office to make sure that I handed in the form,” King said with a laugh. “She told me ‘Felicity, you filled out the form and you want to do it, so just do it.’

“I strongly urge anyone who wants to become a student trustee to take that chance and step out of their comfort zone. You’re not going to regret it.”

In addition to their work in town, the trio have also ventured outside of Thunder Bay.

All three have gone to Toronto for Ontario Student Trustees Association conferences, with a trip to Ottawa also planned.

“I think the first big thing from that experience was the fact that we are all travelling on our own, which is pretty cool that we go to be more independent during those events,” Joseph said.

“You get to meet people from different backgrounds and you learn how to pick up on different cues and mannerisms. We had a debate at one of the workshops that I went to and I got to see the ways that people formed their thoughts and how they made their points on a certain topic.”

King and Tassone both feel that they’ve grown a lot already as student trustees and hope to use the lessons that they learn over the course of this school year towards their future in post-secondary studies and in the workforce.

“I definitely feel like I’ve become a better person being in this position and I think a lot of that has to do with the responsibility that you have in this role,” King said.

“I’m a lot more welcoming and approachable now and if anybody comes up to me with a question or a concern, I’m super willing to help out in any way that I can.”

“All three of us have learned already when it comes to public speaking, critical thinking and decision making,” Tassone added.

“It can be intimidating at first when you walk into the board meetings, but once you get to know everybody and realize that they are all so friendly … you realize that they actually want to hear what you have to say on certain issues.”

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