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Fort Macleod youth part of minister’s advisory panel

Nick Housenga, a Grade 11 student at F.P. Walshe school in Fort Macleod, took part in the education minister’s student summer advisory panel. From left: Livingstone Range School Board vice-chair Lacey Poytress, Nick Housenga and school board chair Lori Hodges.

A Fort Macleod youth added his voice to the development of new Alberta legislation.
Nick Housenga took part last summer in the education minister’s student summer advisory panel.
Nick, a Grade 11 student at F.P. Walshe school, was one of 30 high school students from Alberta to provide input on the Education Act and the Choice in Education Act.
“It was about what I expected,” Nick said of the reaction to student input from education officials. “I think we were definitely heard. I think lots of people who went were very like-minded so we got the same ideas across to the minister.”
Nick was at the Sept. 11 Livingstone Range School Board meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building in Fort Macleod.
Nick was invited by the school board to apply for a spot on the Education Minister Adriana LaGrange’s advisory council.
Nick was joined by Grade 10, 11, and 12 students from across Alberta in Edmonton for four days in July.
“We learned about five new pieces of legislation,” Nick told trustees. That included the Education Act and the Choice in Education Act.
“We were given the opportunity to form our own opinion based on what we heard,” Nick explained.
After the students decided what input to share on behalf of students they met with the education minister.
“The main thing I talked about was the Choice in Education Act which has yet to be written,” Nick said. “My group focused on where parents’ choice in education shifts to students’ choice, where students can make decisions about their own future.”
The minister assured the students their voice will be considered as the new legislation is written.
Nick said there was discussion about student organizations, including gay-straight alliances.
“It was a big topic and we covered a lot of ground on that,” Nick said. “We provided a lot of input.”
The students received assurances that the student organizations will be protected by the Education Act.
The student summer advisory panel is a new addition to student involvement and complements the annual Minister’s Youth Council.
Nick said the student summer advisory panel was a one-time event for him.
“I have applied for the Minister’s Youth Council, which is basically the same thing but it’s three different meetings spread out across the year,” Nick said.
Alberta Education is currently looking for 32 junior and senior high school students, aged 14 to 19, with diverse interests, identities, backgrounds and perspectives from all regions to be part of the 2019-’20 Minister’s Youth Council.
The council will give students the opportunity to build their leadership skills at the provincial level, make an impact on education and leave a legacy that will last well into the future.
Students can apply directly to Alberta Education before July 3. For more information, visit alberta.ca/student-engagement.aspx.
“We appreciate you going and participating in that,” school board chair Lori Hodges said.

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