Class Notes: Vancouver students take home poetry prizes

Poetry champs

Three Vancouver students won top prizes for poetry recitation in Toronto last week, the first year that the Poetry in Voice competition was open to students outside Ontario and Quebec.

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Kyla Kane, a Grade 12 student from Vancouver Technical secondary, won first place in the English stream, Dede Akolo from Little Flower Academy won second place in the English stream and Natasha Jadavji from Crofton House School won second place in the French stream.

Kane won $5,000 plus $1,000 for her school library, half of which must be used to buy poetry books. Akolo and Jadavji won $1,000 each and $500 for poetry books for their school libraries.

I am going to put [my winnings] in the bank ASAP and [am] going to save most of it, just to use it to pursue acting and whatnot, Kane said.

Poetry in Voice was founded by the same trust that awards the Griffin Poetry Prize.

I had a really great time, Kane said. Hopefully another person from Vancouver can bring it home next year.

Student trustees

A teenaged trustee could sit on the Vancouver School Board next year.

Vision Vancouver trustee Mike Lombardi expects to meet with school board staff and representatives of the Vancouver District Student Council to develop a plan and policy proposal to establish a student trustee position on a pilot basis. That plan is to be presented to the boards management coordinating committee next month.

We may have to call it another name, we may have to call it a student adviser, Lombardi said.

The B.C. School Trustees Association narrowly voted at its annual general meeting last month against lobbying the provincial government to change the B.C. School Act to allow student trustees participation in board activities.

For a lot of other school boards it was the first time theyd ever heard of the idea, Lombardi said, whereas Vancouver District Students Council representatives pitched the idea to the board in 2012.

Now Lombardi wants to proceed with a made-in Vancouver policy.

The working group will need to consider how the student trustee would be elected, whether the trustee would be compensated and rules about conflict of interest.

The government of Ontario mandated that each school must have one to three student trustees in 1998. New Brunswick has had student trustees since 2009. In Ontario, student trustee votes are recorded but not counted and student trustees can attend in-camera meetings except those related to personnel. Student trustee votes are counted in New Brunswick but student trustees cant attend in-camera meetings, according to Lombardi.

He expects a student trustee in Vancouver wouldnt be permitted to attend in-camera meetings and that his or her vote wouldnt count. The students tell us [having votes that count] thats not the big issue, Lombardi said. The big issue is, as it is in New Brunswick and Ontario, they can debate anything and they can ask any motion to be debated and voted upon by the board.

Ontario student trustees have helped develop policy about the use of technology in classrooms, cyber bullying and appropriate curriculum and promoted studies on better teaching and learning strategies, according to Lombardi.

Regular and student trustees in Ontario cant believe they ever functioned without student trustees, Lombardi said. The act of having a student sitting across from you as part of your board changes your whole mindset.

Student representatives participate on the Vancouver School Boards standing and advisory committees.

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