Outgoing student trustees reflect on 2016-17 school year

During the month of June, most Waterloo Region District School Board students look forward to leaving the classroom for the summer. But for two students the end of the school year also marks the end of their time in the boardroom. Ryan Barnes and Husayn Jamal will officially finish their terms as Student Trustees on July 31.

Husayn Jamal and Ryan Barnes, 2016-17 student trustees

“When I was first elected, it was very intimidating sitting around the political table,” said Ryan Barnes, outgoing student trustee and Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate Institute and Vocational School student. “However, I wanted to make a difference and the opportunity to speak on behalf of all students has allowed me to do this.”

Barnes is a two-term Student Trustee, originally elected for the 2015-16 school year. During his time as a secondary student, he has been an active member of KCI’s student council, working in collaboration the Waterloo Region Police Service (WRPS) and the Neighborhood Association, in addition to participating in a variety of extracurricular activities, such as football and rugby.

“I had to learn during my time as a student trustee the speed at which large organizations operate and how complex a system it is,” said Husayn Jamal, outgoing student trustee and Cameron Heights’ student . “There is no single solution to the issues we face as a board, whether it’s improving mathematics scores, graduation rates, or student and staff well-being. I’ve learned that staff have the expertise to address these challenges and are working in the best interests of students.”

Jamal is as a fourth-year International Baccalaureate student. Since Grade 9, he has been involved with co-curricular clubs and organizations including Model United Nations, Model Parliament, federal/provincial government simulation and mock trials.

“During their tenure, Ryan and Husayn worked to expand the role of student trustee, so that not only their voice, but that of the student senate was represented,” said Scott McMillan, chair of the board. “On behalf of trustees, we’re excited to see these two individuals continue to grow and become successful leaders in their future endeavours.”

What advice would Barnes and Jamal provide to the incoming Student Trustees?

Barnes: “You need to have patience. Things don’t happen overnight. There’s a lot of thought, planning and implementation that needs to happen.”

Jamal: “One of the most important things is to speak openly and understand that their role is critical, not only for the trustees, but also for senior staff. The board meetings are one of the few opportunities for staff to hear directly from students and understand how issues in the Board affect them.”

In September, Barnes will attend Mount Saint Vincent University to study public relations. Jamal will attend McGill University to study political science and international development.

“As senior staff implement our strategic plan, our focus is on ensuring students are first, each and every one. We will greatly miss Ryan and Husayn and wish them success in innovating tomorrow,” said John Bryant, director of education.

Next week, we will introduce our new 2017-18 Student Trustees on www.wrdsb.ca.  Stay connected. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.