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Student trustees eager to give back

Superior's Emily Drake and Westgate's Morgann De Franceschi have started two-year terms as student trustees with the Lakehead District School Board.

Emily Drake has spent most of her life trying to find a sense of identity with her Indigenous heritage.

The Grade 11 student at Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute is looking to help others in that situation with her new role as an Indigenous student trustee with the Lakehead District School Board, which officially began on Sept. 12.

"When I was in elementary school, I felt like I was kind of underrepresented because there wasn't really any curriculum in regards to Indigenous people, along with any of the history and those kinds of things," said Drake, who is from Fort Hope.

"Now that I've grown up a little bit, I've discovered more of my heritage through the help of my school board and I felt like I should give back a bit and help other students that were in the same situation that I was in before."

Drake is serving a two-year term and is joined on the board by student trustee Morgann De Franceschi, who is in,Grade 11 at Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute.

"This opportunity means a lot to me and it is something that I have been working toward for a long time," De Franceschi said.

"I want to help give a better voice to the students and I want to help promote more equality in schools. I'm involved with the LGBTQ+ community and I attend some of the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) meetings and I want to represent their voice more on the board."

De Franceschi has been interested in becoming a student trustee for the last couple of years after the daughter of one of her elementary school teachers was involved in the role.

Drake submitted her name for the role earlier this year, but was a little nervous about applying at first.

"I had a long conversation with our First Nation graduation coach (Precious Anderson) and she really encouraged me to go for it," Drake said. "Everything kind of just started to come together from there."

Drake, who is enroled in the International Baccalaureate Programme at Superior, is also part of the school's student advisory council.

"I think this is going to give me a lot of school experience when it comes to being in meetings, being more professional and reaching out to people that will help me make connections moving forward," Drake said of her role as an indigenous student trustee.

"It will be good practice for me as I get ready for the future as I'll be sitting down with people that are treating this like this is their job, which is slightly different from student council."

Drake keeps herself pretty busy when she's not in the classroom.

She's been involved with the Mount Baldy children's summer camp and the St. Joseph's Foundation curling tournament, along with helping to develop and lead Indigenous learning sessions for elementary students.

"I really don't see it as any extra work," Drake said. "It's kind of all part of my day-to-day activity and it kind of just meshes together pretty organically.

"A lot of my volunteer work involves events that are in the school board, so that helps a lot when it comes to this role as a student trustee."

De Franceschi also has a pretty busy schedule.

In addition to playing several sports at Westgate, she's an active co-vice president of the school's student council and has been a volunteer with Shelter House Thunder Bay, St. John Ambulance, Christmas Cheer, Thunder Bay Public Library and Precious Bundles.

"It has taught me a lot about time management for sure," De Franceschi said. "I've learned about leadership from those different roles and I hope to learn a lot of different schools with the board that can help me in the future as I apply for different jobs."

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