MONTREAL, MAY 28, 2012 – Once a month, a classroom at an English Montreal School Board high school doubles as a board room as nearly 40 students come together to form the English Montreal School Advisory Committee (EMSAC).
Together, the students representing FACE downtown, James Lyng High School in Ville-Émard, John F. Kennedy High School in St. Michel, LaurenHill Academy in St. Laurent, Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Léonard, Lester B. Pearson High School in Montreal North, MIND in the Plateau, Marymount Academy and Royal Vale High School in N.D.G. , Rosemount High School and Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount, Royal West Academy in Montreal West, Westmount High School as well as two students from the Outreach system, debate and discuss issues pertinent to the EMSB and the student body.
Under the guise of Westmount High School Vice-Principal Steven Erdelyi, James Lyng Vice-Principal Steven Manstavich, Commissioner Anne Williams and Regional Director Paola Miniaci, the committee takes on issues such as whether or not students should have access to YouTube and Facebook in school, (EMSAC voted that students should have access to YouTube, but not Facebook); the Safe Schools Policy, transportation and co-habitation amongst others.
“I think that the overall goal of this committee is for students to be heard and enable them to share their point of view with the EMSB Council of Commissioners,” said Royal Vale High School student Fozail Ahmad. “The Council of Commissioners should know what is important to students in their schools. At EMSAC, we have discussed the Safe Schools Policy, school closures, transportation as well as anything that students want to cover. We have a new agenda every month.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity for students from all the high schools to come together and discuss issues that are important to them and important to the EMSB as well,” added Mr. Erdelyi. “EMSAC is a way for the students to give their input to the Council of Commissioners and administrators so they can hear what students have to think.”
This year marks the third for EMSAC, and for the student members, it has presented them with an opportunity to have a voice and ensure that their views, and those of the student body as a whole, are taken into consideration.
To ensure continuity and a hierarchy, students begin their posts in Grade 10 and serve for two years on the committee. At the final meeting of the year, elections are held for the following school year.
Serving as the president of EMSAC for the 2012 – 2013 school year is Elaine MacLean from LaurenHill Academy and as vice-president, Mary Pakkianathar from Marymount Academy. Rita Scotto from John F. Kennedy High School will continue as secretary for a second year.
“I’ve learned that students have a lot of control about what happens in our school community and that we can and should have an opinion on what goes on at their school board,” said Stephanie DeVincenzi, a member from Laurier Macdonald High School.
For current students, the committee has provided them with an opportunity to get a taste of politics at a young age. It also gives them the chance to assert influence on behalf of their peers at a level previously unattainable by students.
“My suggestion to future students is that they should keep trying hard and they should know that they will be heard and that they can make a difference,” added Ahmad. “If you voice your opinion, you will make a difference.”
For more information on EMSAC, please contact a school representative or Steven Erdelyi at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Steven Manstavich at: email@example.com.