The first of the two new Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change (SRSC) trustees was officially sworn in at the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board meeting on Monday.
Max Pahtayken is a 14-year old Grade 10 student and the youngest ever SRSC student trustee. Pahtayken wasn't aware he was the youngest until after the meeting happened.
“I have a late birthday so I'm the youngest for a lot of things,” he said.
Pahtayken is a student at the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute (PACI). He replaces a PACI alumnus, Tia-Lee McCallum, as the new SRSC urban trustee.
Pahtayken said it was exciting to attend his first meeting, but also a bit overwhelming.
“I was really nervous at the start (and) I was a little overwhelmed when the meeting started,” he said. “After everyone had introduced themselves I really didn't have a problem with it. Honestly I had a really good time and I like being present in those kinds of things because I like to know what is going on.”
Sask. Rivers education director Robert Bratvold said the SRSC rarely has Grade 10 students serving as trustees. Given Pahtayken’s late birthday, he’s likely the youngest trustee they’ve had since the student trustee plan began.
The other SRSC student trustee, Mallie Mitchell from Birch Hills School, was not in attendance on Monday. She’ll be sworn in at a later meeting.
“Our board has moved to two regular board meetings a month so the student trustees may alternate or they may come to some together but they will likely attend just one board meeting a month to keep the trustees up to date,” Bratvold said. “We are still navigating that and seeing how that plays out over the course of the year. Our SRSC students are often incredibly involved and busy students, so we have to be respectful of that. If they can do their job as student trustees in a way that still manages their time that's great.”
Pahtayken said he’s glad to be a PACI student, and eager to follow in McCallum’s footsteps.
“I really like PACI and it's understandable that they had strong representatives before me,” he said. “I think that the school just has really string voices and I think they are really good at amplifying everybody else's.”
Pahtayken was called to the front of the meeting by board chair Barry Hollick who had him take the oath of office and sign forms for the office.
Pahtayken wants to provide a voice first and foremost as his goal as a student trustee.
“I never really saw anybody in my situation have a lot of representatives and I know that a lot of other kids feel the same way and if I can be that sort of rep for them I guess,” Pahtayken said.
“I would feel more fulfilled and I like when everybody has a chance to speak and have their voices heard because I don't think anybody's voice should be left unheard,” he added.
Trustees, superintendents and guests introduced themselves and trustees mentioned connections to PACI including being former students and teachers as well as having their children attend the school.
“It's exciting to have 14-year-old trustee, so congratulations,” Hollick said during the meeting. “We have had a number of trustees sit at this table. PACI has been well represented, so I congratulate you on representing the old school on the hill again.”
Trustee Cher Bloom updated the board on the most recent meeting of the SRSC Committee on Sept. 21. On Sept. 26 there was an orientation for the SRSC in which each member of the committee met with their counterpart in the division office. This included Pahtayken and Mitchell meeting with Bloom and trustee Michelle Vickars, president Ella McBride who attends the Distance Learning Centre and vice president Jayden Braaten of Birch Hills School met with Bratvold, secretary Abi Kyliuk of WP Sandin met with Joyce Ward and media relations officer Deziree Zacharias of Big River met with superintendent Garette Tebay. Tebay has replaced superintendent Corey Trann as the SRSC superintendent representative.
“That was actually a great opportunity to have some orientation for the new SRSC and executive and help them dig a little deeper into their roles so everybody has a sense of this is what this role is as a student trustee or the president or the media person,” Bratvold said. “(It’s) helping them get into that a little bit. It was a great opportunity.”
During that meeting, the board also discussed possible topics for the first full SRSC meeting in October. The list includes mental health, departmental exams and the connection to student voice.
There was no actual verbal update from SRSC because they are still getting comfortable in their new roles.
“We had intentionally started to have a little bit more of an orientation period with the SRSC,” Bratvold said. “(We’re) looking forward to the work that students do and the work that student trustees specifically do to bring that voice and guidance to the board.”
The next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 24.
Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald