By Avery Adair
With ballots cast, speeches delivered, and the wait finally over, last Tuesday, February 28, marked the closing of this year’s annual Upper Canada District School Board Student Trustee election.
December 12, (and ending February 13) introduced the nomination period for the election and selected the three finalists, including Seaway District High School Grade 10 Merab Ali.
Candidates presented their goals and overall mission to the Student Senate, if elected for the term, accompanied by a speech, and a question-and-answer period. Student Senate then cast a secret ballot to determine the election, ultimately appointing Merab Ali as Vice-Chair and Afaq Virk from Cornwall Collegiate Vocational School.
Ali is the second Seaway student elected student trustee in the last three years. Her sister Eshal Ali served as student trustee in 2021-22.
Apart of the Student Senate are student representatives from each UCDSB secondary school, including TR Leger School of Adult, Alternative and Continuing Education, and a representative from the Indigenous Leadership Program (iLead) and Akwesasne. Senators meet four times a year, plus monthly supplementary meetings to discuss matters related to school climate and culture.
As a Student Trustee however, members must attend regular UCDSB Board of Trustees Meetings and provide brief reports to the Board, serve as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Student Senate and may also attend Ontario Student Trustee Association’s (OSTA-AECO) conferences.
Ali’s term will run from August 1 to July 31, 2024.
Ali explained that she is looking forward to collaborating with others, and gaining insight into how a school board operates.
“To be elected as Student Trustee is an honour and an incredible opportunity! I ran for this position to promote equity/inclusion, and to promote safe inclusive spaces for all students, regardless of whatever their background may be, as well as mental health and providing resources and removing stigma,” she told The Scoop. Ali is also one of the three writers on staff for The Scoop.
“I am also interested in environmental initiatives that benefit those of low socio-economic status or general enrollment and communities.”, Ali said. “Overall, I look forward to starting my term and working with leaders throughout the UCDSB!”
At the end of their term, Trustees-elect Ali and Virk will receive a $2,500 honourarium to go towards their post secondary education.
Board Vice-Chair and Student Trustee Mentor, Corina Parisien said that the trustee board, “are fortunate to be able to work with such dedicated and insightful Student Trustees who bring that instrumental student voice to the Board table”.
Congratulations Merab and many good wishes to you for your hard work in being elected student trustee. May you take your position in stride and your diligence towards great results to further improve Seaway and those included in the UCDSB. Cheers!
The Seaway Scoop is a weekly feature column published in partnership with The Leader during the school year. This year’s authors are Avery Adair, Merab Ali, and Addison Grant.