UGDSB expresses appreciation for student senate

GUELPH – Education director Peter Sovran said the work of this year’s student trustees “really is exemplary for any leader anywhere, not just for student leaders.” 

Student trustees Julia Elmslie and Brooke Hartley are “exceptional individuals,” Sovran added during the final Upper Grand District School Board meeting of the school year on June 27.

“Each and every time we as members of our executive committee faced a challenge and wondered what to do, which direction we should go in, we knew where we would find the voice that would guide us there – and that was the student senate,” Sovran said, adding the students consistently came up with “brilliant answers.” 

The UGDSB student senate met once a month from Sept. 2022 to June 2023, with representatives from each secondary school in the board providing a “wide range of voices and perspectives,” Elmslie said during the meeting. 

She noted the purpose of the senate meetings was to “discuss the many ways that we can inspire change and provide feedback to our board leaders.”

Most recently, the student senate participated in selecting a new tag line for the board that “best represented the UGDSB to us as students,” she said.

They chose three simple words to encompass what the UGDSB means to them: Follow Your Path. 

“We are very grateful that the student senate had the opportunity to voice student perspectives,” Elmslie added. 

“By taking the time to visit our senate, inviting us to your meetings, and voicing our opinions whenever possible, we feel that the student population has been well heard, understood, and respected. 

“We appreciate your dedication to allowing students to be the best versions of ourselves possible on a daily basis.” 

Trustee Katherine Hauser was the first to reciprocate this gratitude, especially with regard to their support with the board’s new visual identity and logo.

“I think we all really appreciate having that voice come forward, and I’m really looking forward to the fall,” Hauser added.

Current student senate secretary Paige Knight, who attended the board meeting, will be the urban student trustee for the 2023-24 school year. 

Brooke Hartley will continue to be the rural student trustee next year.

The incoming secretary for the 2023-24 school year will be Sarah Hassan. 

“Student trustee Julia Elmslie and student trustee Brooke Hartley, who unfortunately is not able to attend tonight, thank you for your leadership, for your honesty, (and for) the hard work you did over the past year, representing the students in our schools,” said UGDSB chair Ralf Mesenbrink. 

“That is critically important,” he added, and “I can say with confidence, your voices mattered, and you made a difference.  

“I cannot say enough about your leadership, and I know our future is in good hands.”