On Wednesday, May 5, hundreds of learners across the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) participated in Beyond the Horizon, a virtual summit created by students for students.
Throughout the day, students in grades 5 to 12 shared and reflected on their experiences over the past year to help create a vision for learning in a post-pandemic world. Students were organized into breakout rooms for guided conversations about:
- mental health and well-being
- learner voice and choice
- Indigenous education and land-based learning
- equity and inclusion
"The Youth Summit was a conversation that I know will ignite change. You could hear it in the discussions that were happening throughout the day," said Ridhwanlai Badmos, a grade 10 student at Windsor Park Collegiate and one of the leaders who helped plan and host the event. "It made me realize there are so many things that students can do; we just have to take the initiative."
More than 130 classrooms of students in grades 5 to 8 tuned in during the morning session. Students heard from Big Daddy Tazz, a comedian and motivational speaker, before moving into breakout rooms with other classes from across LRSD.
"The summit was an engaging, thought-provoking, and empowering experience for students," said Kristin Zaparniuk, a teacher at St. George School. "Students liked being able to connect with their peers from around the division, and it made them feel good to have their voices heard and appreciated."
In the afternoon, more than 160 high school students participated in the summit. The session kicked off with a keynote speech from Michael Redhead Champagne, a local community activist and public speaker, that inspired students to take action for positive change within their community. After sharing their thoughts and ideas within breakout rooms, students heard from Sofia Costantini, an educator, author, and choreographer, about mental health and strategies to build back community.
"Although we're still navigating a pandemic, it is so important that we capture students' stories and insight about their lived experience to learn how we can do better as an education system," said Christian Michalik, Superintendent, LRSD. "Beyond the Horizon showed that we can find hope and opportunity, even in crisis. I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation."
The summit was planned and executed by a group of students from LRSD's seven high schools. Ambassadors throughout the division's elementary schools and the Louis Riel Arts & Technology Centre helped promote the event at the school-level.
"The Beyond the Horizon Youth Summit allowed our division to unite amongst all odds and start a necessary and important conversation," said Zaina Abazid, a grade 10 student at J.H. Bruns Collegiate and one of the leaders who helped plan and host the event.
Students will share the lessons learned from the Beyond the Horizon Youth Summit with all LRSD educators during a professional development day on May 31.