On Monday, May 31, students in the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) presented their vision for a better education system to more than 1,400 staff during a professional learning day. Through a series of four keynote speeches, a group of high school students shared the thoughts of their peers that arose during Beyond the Horizon, a virtual summit attended by hundreds of LRSD students in grades 5 to 12 at the beginning of May.
“A positive of the pandemic is that it presented the opportunity to connect with so many students from across the division,” said Heaven Nandwal, grade 11 student at Glenlawn Collegiate and keynote speaker. “It was my honour to hear the voices of youth and have the chance to share those voices with our amazing educators.”
The presentations covered Indigenous Education and Land-Based Learning, Equality and Inclusion, Mental Health and Well-Being, and Choice and Voice for Learners. Following each keynote speech, staff were given the opportunity to discuss what they heard and how it resonated for them in their schools.
“These student speakers have done such an amazing job that they have completely reenergized and motivated me as a teacher to tackle the last month of school,” wrote Avril French Varga, teacher at Samuel Burland School, during the Mental Health and Well-Being keynote. “They are the reason we choose this profession and are the best motivators.”
The content in each keynote was action-oriented and based on a multitude of student experiences from across the division. Students encouraged teachers to incorporate traditional land-based learning into daily classes, include in-depth conversations about race and diversity into the curriculum, allow for mental health breaks during the day, provide additional student leadership opportunities, and more.
“These presentations will help us continue improving the learning journey in June and beyond,” said Christian Michalik, Superintendent. “I am incredibly proud of all of the students, both on and off screen, for their significant contributions and dedication as we work toward Goal 2.2.1 in our Multi-Year Strategic Plan: Co-creating and co-articulating a K-12 learning journey that values relevance and creativity as much as rigour and accountability.”
In an exit survey sent to staff, 97 per cent of the 935 respondents provided a positive rating of the day and many requested more student-led, division-wide, professional learning in the future.
“I was amazed with the student leadership group that presented for our professional learning day,” said Alyssa Olynyk, teacher at Windsor Park Collegiate. “Hearing them communicate the many other voices of students across the division was truly inspiring.”
Watch or re-watch the keynote speeches at the links below:
- Indigenous Education and Well-Being: Video and PowerPoint - Includes opening remarks and words from Wanbdi Wakita, member of the LRSD Indigenous Council of Grandmothers and Grandfathers
"I'm grateful I was part of this experience and I couldn't be more proud of how it all turned out," said Julia Mager, grade 11 student at J.H. Bruns Collegiate and keynote speaker. "There was a lot of positive feedback from teachers and principals who reached out, which shows that they appreciate hearing all the student voices."