Fox in FOCUS has created a section specifically for youth stories.
This column is especially for you. Young writers are encouraged to submit news stories, club updates or opinion pieces about the issues, events or accomplishments that matter to them. Submissions may be edited for length, spelling and grammar.
Photos are a welcomed bonus. Thank-you. Have fun!
Kaeleigh Speaks Out – An Experience Like No Other
By Kaeleigh Pasula
Let me start with the word amazing – which at the moment, is about the only word I can find to explain my experience with Speak Out, the Alberta Student Engagement Initiative, thus far. (In FOCUS related story: http://foxinfocus.ca/2012/04/14/one-voice-makes-a-difference/).
At the fourth annual Speak Out Conference, the first one I have ever attended, I was greeted literally two steps in the door by a returning member of the Minister’s Student Advisory Council. The council consists of 24 youth, with many responsibilities, one being assisting with and helping host the Speak Out Conferences. The council members were fabulous at breaking the ice and making everyone feel like part of the team.
I attended sessions about finances in our schools, quality teaching, international education, inclusion, and redesigning the calm curriculum. It was hard to choose which session was the most informative, but it’s easy to say my favourite part of the conference was the feeling of importance, and the confidence that your opinion was actually being taken into account. I felt as though everything I said mattered and I had never been so motivated to give my opinion.
We were there not only to give our opinion, but to learn how decisions are made for our education. The conference focused on different types of learning. We were lead through presentations, speeches, and hands on activities, such as a scenario in which we were the principal and had to choose which courses our school would offer based on our budget- and let me say, it was not easy!
Though the Speak Out conference was based on education, I learned so much more. The motivational speaker present, Joel Hilchey, gave us lessons about taking intelligent risks, the potential individuals have to make an impact, and so much more. At one point of our keynote address, we were all given mousetraps and told to take a risk.
On the second night of the conference, we were treated to a dance and hip hop demonstration, where the bond formed between strangers in such a short amount of time was really put to the test.
The atmosphere throughout the weekend continued to be one of friendliness and acceptance, no one ever looked uncomfortable or lonely. Being welcomed by hundreds of people was a nice reminder that we were all there for the same reasons- to make schools in Alberta a better place, to learn, and to have fun!
The Speak Out conference has been an experience like no other. My current goal is to get more students of Fox Creek School engaged in Speak Out- whether it’s applying for the conference, or even simply posting online.
I want students to realize the opportunities we are given through this initiative, and the power we have to make a difference in our education system, and the education of the future. When we have a resource as powerful as Speak Out at our fingertips, why shouldn’t the opportunity be taken advantage of?
Speak Out is definitely something I will remember for the rest of my life. I plan to continue to participate in Speak Out and encourage my peers to participate – it is a life changing experience. I am currently working on bringing Speak Out to our community through engagement, information, and holding the first ever Speak Out forum within our school division.Print This Post