The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association and the Public Board Council of OSTA-AECO are pleased to announce the winners of the first ever Ontario Public Student Trustee Scholarship.
This scholarship is based on an outstanding initiative accomplished during the student trustee’s term and how the initiative positively impacted the students in their board. Two scholarships, in the amount of $500 each, have been awarded to:
Anumita Jain, Greater Essex County District School Board
A Grade 12 student at Vincent Massey SS in Windsor, Student Trustee Anumita Jain spearheaded the creation of the Association’s Handbook to Menstrual Hygiene Accessibility as co-chair of OSTA-AECO’s Student Well-being Working Group to help student trustees in other boards address the inequities in access to menstrual hygiene products in schools. Following the successful production and distribution of the handbook in February, she launched a board-wide consultation of students in Grades 6 to 12 through the Student Senate in March. After five months of work, on May 19, Anumita brought a motion to the board to ensure menstrual hygiene products would be provided for free in female and gender-neutral washrooms by June 2022, which was unanimously passed by trustees. Anumita will be attending the University of Windsor for a Bachelor degree in Behaviour Cognition and Neuroscience, and plans to attend medical school afterwards.
Prasith Wijeweera, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB)
As Student Trustee for the OCDSB and a Grade 12 student at Bell HS, Prasith Wijeweera spearheaded a report and consultation asking Ottawa’s City Council to improve bus services for students. Some students in the city were busing up to two hours daily, an inequity given that many were in English as a Second Language or Special Education programs. Prasith compiled thoughts from 50 students into a report and sent it to City Councillors. After a four month process, OC Transpo staff announced that improvements would not be possible due to a lack of resources, but they did alter departure times to reduce connection waiting periods for students. Prasith is encouraged that transit staff acknowledged the report and did make some changes to service. He will be pursuing a Bachelor of Civil Engineering in Public Transportation at the University of Waterloo where he will be motivated to work on improving transit systems.
The intent of this scholarship is to recognize outstanding achievement and provide financial support to a graduating public board student trustee to assist with their post-secondary education plans, whether they choose to attend university or college or start an apprenticeship.
“I’m always so impressed by the work of our student trustees across Ontario,” said OPSBA President Cathy Abraham. “Their incredible leadership and advocacy for student issues makes me very proud to recognize two of the brightest stars – Prasith and Anumita. We know they will find success in anything they set their mind to in the future and I wish them all the best as they head off to post-secondary education this fall.”
Student trustees represent the voice of students in decisions about education and they help keep students informed about important decisions that affect them. They play an important role in the education governance process and are actively working at the local board and provincial levels on a number of initiatives.
“We’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone who have applied, and to all of the students doing great work in their communities,” said Sarah Chun, OSTA-AECO Public Board Council President, and Sam Abbott, Public Board Council Vice-President. “It was incredible to see the passion, motivation, and drive student trustees across Ontario bring to their boards and communities every day. It’s been a pleasure to work with Prasith and Anumita this year, and we are excited to see them continue supporting their communities throughout their post-secondary programs.”