Students from Grades 8-12 from within Medicine Hat Public School Division gathered at the central office recently for a student voice engagement day.–NEWS PHOTO SAMANTHA JOHNSONSamantha Johnson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Blaire Henderson is in Grade 8 at Dr. Roy Wilson Learning Centre and was invited to take part in a student voice session recently held at the Medicine Hat Public School Division central office.

 “It’s been going well. I really like all the discussion we’ve been having about the different problems and things that are good in our school environment and how we can improve upon or better our school,” stated Henderson. “I hope we can implement some of the solutions to fix the problems we have.”

 MHPSD and the board of trustees are committed to an ongoing dialogue and recognize they are shaping a future where all students can thrive by prioritizing student voices.

 “By directly connecting with our students,” stated chair Catherine Wilson, “we gain insights into their challenges and successes, fostering trust and meaningful connections. This invaluable feedback serves as a driving force for positive change, guiding us to align our strategies and resources with evolving student needs.”

 More than 30 students from middle and high schools across the division were invited to participate in the sessions and each was selected by administration at their respective schools. The first task was to discuss what has been supportive or the successes each has experienced at school. Students had time to consider the topic and write their thoughts on note paper before bringing it forth into a table discussion, and then to the group as a whole. At the close of each session, those items of highest relevance to the students were written onto large pieces of paper and hung on the wall.

 The second topic was the challenges students faced and what could be better in the schools they attend. After lunch, each table selected what they identified as being most important to each student at the table, either successes or challenges.

 “From that conversation at their table groups, each had the opportunity to write down one idea or recommendation that we are collecting, we will look at all the feedback, reflect on it and share it with the board of trustees and leadership team,” said director of student programming Cody Edwards.

 “There was lots of energy in the room,” reflected Edwards. “It went well, there was a genuine desire to listen and to hear the experiences of our students. That was a unique process for me and I appreciated it and I believe the trustees appreciated it.”

 MHPSD is looking to have a similar process in spring 2024 and says it is proud of the students who engaged at the inaugural student voice engagement. Each attendee was asked to provide a visual representation of what they got out of the day and one of the students contributed they had felt seen, heard and understood. Officials said the students showed great respect for the opinions and perspectives of everyone who participated and brought to the sessions a remarkable honesty that was highly valued by the division.

By Samantha Johnson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 18, 2023 at 16:19

This item reprinted with permission from   Medicine Hat News   Medicine Hat, Alberta

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