After last school year's Speak Out forum at Notre Dame High School (NDHS), Grade 12 student Joel Cheverie decided to get more involved in school politics. Cheverie applied to become a member of the minister of education's student advisory committee and was accepted in June.
Speak Out is a provincial consultation with students that asks what they want to see in the education system. Cheverie now represents the northeast zone of Alberta on the committee. He met with Education Minister Dave Hancock and the Speak Out committee in September, where he learned that he'd have to hold a forum of his own.
The meeting included a talk on the history of the unpopular 50 per cent Grade 12 diploma exams. “It's very stressful, but it serves a good purpose,” Cheverie said.
He said the Grade 9 students he's talked to weren't too concerned about diploma exams yet, but that in forums he's attended, it's a frequently debated subject.
“That's probably the biggest thing the government hears from students,” he explained.
One class of Grade 9 students attended a Speak Out forum at NDHS on Dec. 7. He encouraged the 23 students to write down answers to four questions. The first asked students what it looks like when they are learning at their best. Cheverie said for some students it means working alone or in a small group and with an understanding teacher.
To a second question about what is holding them back from learning at their best, students answered that they want to see fewer classroom disruptions, distractions and stress. A third question asked what action could adults take to improve how education looks and feels. Students said they want their parents to have more active involvement in education.
In the final question about what actions can students take to improve how education looks and feels, students identified goal-making and self-motivation as possible answers.
Cheverie said he felt motivated to get involved in the advisory committee for a possible future career in politics. As a part of his new role, Cheverie has to make a blog entry online once a month at www.speakout.alberta.ca.