The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board is pleased to introduce our 2020-2021 Student Trustees.
Meet Grade 12 student Isabella Micci, Student Council President from St. John Henry Catholic Secondary School and Grade 12 student Katarina Mathew from Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School.
This is the first year the HWCDSB has been represented by two Student Trustees, with one being selected from the Board’s seven student council presidents and the other through a voluntary application process.
Both are eager to listen, understand and lead on initiatives and causes brought forth by the student body they serve. We know they will be an asset to this year’s Board of Trustees.
Recently, both Trustees took time to share a bit about themselves and what they hope to accomplish this year. Read their interviews below: What are three interesting facts about yourself? Isabella:
I really enjoy writing. My strongest subject in school is definitely English. I also love volunteering my time with inner city youth. I volunteer with the St. Ann’s Reading and Writing Club and at my parish with kids. I love working with kids. Something else, I’m absolutely terrified of planes. I wish that I wasn’t. When I was younger, I was on a plane to Venezuela with my family, but since I was so young, my experience was traumatic because there was a lot of turbulence and I haven’t gone on one since. Hopefully I will overcome this. Katarina:
I have a fear of bugs, especially spiders and butterflies. Butterflies look pretty but going to a butterfly conservatory would be my worst nightmare. I love to read – I’m a major bookworm. It’s ironic how I said I have a fear of every type of bug and now I’m calling myself a bookworm. I would also love to travel when I am older to parts of Europe, Asia and South America. In what capacity did you serve on council in the past? Isabella:
Last year I was Social Convenor, which is basically events planning, dancing, and that sort of thing. I’ve been on council all four years of high school. In Grade 9 I was the Grade 9 Rep., in Grade 10 I was the Junior Rep., Grade 11 Social Convenor and now, Grade 12, I am President. I’ve always loved being in leader positions. Even in elementary school, I was Secretary and President for my Grade 7 and 8 student council. I love public speaking and having a hand in decision making. I love to combine ideas and put them forth and work to accomplish change. What is the importance of having a student trustee? Isabella:
Thinking of your hierarchy of authority, you can’t just have a whole student body from a school board come and run all their ideas to the Board. It has to go through your elementary students to your high school to your high school student council, and then it comes to the Board level where you have a more calm and collected sense of the ideas that are all grouped together from lower levels. It’s easier to go through these levels to make sure the message is effectively passed across the schools. Katarina:
The importance of having a Student Trustee is to remind students of the HWCDSB community of the importance of our academic journey. Student Trustees must encourage student involvement in district activities, bring awareness to the mutual issues of the board, school staff, and student relationships. The importance of a Catholic Student Trustee is to ensure success for every student, to demonstrate that every student is created in the image of God, and to model a commitment to Gospel values while helping individuals who are a part of the HWCDSB. Why are you a good fit for a student trustee? Isabella:
I think there is such an underrated joy to making someone’s day or creating change. For me, at the end of the day, I’ve always loved to see a smile on someone’s face and know that you made their day. Whether it’s working to pass a motion, or holding the door open for someone, there’s so many different levels of impact and creating change. I love to be the spearhead behind that. I also love working with different people from different walks of life because there is so much you can learn being in a leader position. Katarina:
While I am a hard worker, a leader and easy to talk to, I also care about my academic experience. This care extends to my fellow students and my siblings, so being a part of making the experience better is something I am grateful to be in. Faith is something that has always guided me in my leadership experiences, and I would love to incorporate these beliefs while being the Catholic Student Trustee. This is the first year there has been two student trustees. What benefits do you see from having two representatives? Isabella:
When I was in grade 9 my council’s President was the Trustee at the time, and she would always tell me she had such a great experience, but it was a substantial amount of work, so she wished she had a clone of herself to help her out. I definitely think even though some of our roles might be lessened because of COVID-19, it will divert the workload between me and Katarina. I’m also excited to bounce ideas off one another. Because it’s also hard to have to generate ideas all on your own. Katarina:
I am excited to work with Isabella, she is a wonderful person inside and out. “Two heads are better than one” is a phrase that I have always heard while growing up and this certainly relates to the benefits of having two Student Trustees. We will be able to bounce ideas off each other, express our own opinions, and we will be supportive of one another and our fellow peers. By having two Student Trustees, it will be easier to communicate with the greater student population, so we will ensure that the voices from the HWCDSB community will be heard. How has COVID shifted the role as student trustee and how are you prepared to navigate through it? Isabella:
While there are a ton of limitations and things we can’t do anymore right now, I don’t see it as set back, I see it as a roadblock for right now. I keep telling everyone, especially my council at school, just because we can’t do it like this, doesn’t mean we can’t do it in a different way. So instead of just saying no to an event or an activity or an initiative we want to promote, we must reinvent and recalculate and find a different way to do it, but COVID friendly. It’s definitely good to test everyone’s planning and organizing skills. Life’s not always going to go as planned, so we need to just step back and rethink or reimagine it amidst a pandemic. Katarina:
Due to the mandates of this global pandemic, the meetings, conferences and other special events that the Student Trustees usually attend, will be hosted on various virtual platforms. I am prepared by being flexible and by having a positive outlook each step of the way. What makes you most proud to be a part of the HWCDSB? Isabella:
As a student at Newman, I love my school’s culture. We have a club and a team for everything and everyone. The Board as a whole, I feel is very inclusive. It’s been an initiative pushed for years, even when I was in elementary school, there were so many things that promoted inclusion and diversity. I love the idea that no matter where you come from, or what religion you practice, there’s a place for everyone here. Katarina:
This school system has blessed me with countless opportunities, and I am proud to be part of the HWCDSB as a former student from St. Ann Catholic Elementary School and as a current student and Titan at Bishop Tonnos. In seventh grade, I came to the Board to receive a Director’s Award, and during yesterday’s orientation I found it serendipitous that I was sitting in the same seat that I sat in five years ago, but now as a Student Trustee. I am grateful for my family and teachers that have always been supportive of me throughout my academic journey. The wonderful opportunities that this school board had provided me with from academics to school clubs and events, such as the Prefect Council, TNT, and the Walk for Christ Pilgrimages, gave me the chance to grow and become a better version of myself. I am definitely proud to be a part of the HWCDSB. What do you hope to accomplish this year as a student trustee? Isabella:
In a nutshell, I just hope that I’m able to grab as many ideas from as many different areas, groups or people and minorities that don’t have a voice. As cliché as it sounds, people are always like, “Let’s stand up for those who are unheard,” but how many people really back those words? With COVID, it’s easier now to step back and reevaluate everything happening right now and how it affects each of us individually, and focus in on those who don’t essentially have a voice. Katarina:
I want to make sure everyone’s educational experience is better, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. I feel like the grade 9 and 12 students, right now, really need our focus this year. The grade 9 students, this is all new to them and they aren’t getting the real high school experience. And then the grade 12 students are now applying for post-secondary. I would also like to have the opportunity to further enhance my leadership, communication, teamwork, and organizational skills. I hope to bring forth new ideas and make a difference in the HWCDSB community. What causes are you most passionate about that you want to bring attention to the Board of Trustees? Isabella:
Because I am always working with inner city students, I hope to focus in on that population. There’s so much stress that I feel can be alleviated from them and there are so many things I feel we can provide or do for schools in those areas. So, everyone knows they have a place. Essentially, just to make sure we are accommodating everyone in all situations so we can provide an even playing field. Katarina:
With COVID-19, it’s affected all of us. Six months in quarantine, it does a number on a lot of us. We should really stress the importance of our mental health. I want to bring more awareness and go beyond just hanging a poster. I know sometimes students and even staff look at it and don’t really understand it. Maybe a stress reliever week, like how they do in universities before exams, because with our workload and new schedule, you can see how students are getting stressed out. Especially if you’re taking classes like calculus, it’s tough. How will you ensure all concerns or ideas from your student body are heard? Isabella:
Because you’re not going to have people coming up to your council office, or having people come see you and say, “Hey, I’d love to see this happen,” we’ve talked about creating a little blog or portal for students to use to share what they want to see done. With COVID, we want to do everything virtually, so this way we can read through feedback and comments and see what we can grasp in terms of general ideas. It will be a 24/7 place for people to send their feedback, comments or even concerns. Katarina:
This generation, I feel like a lot of us are influenced by social media, TikTok videos, and other pop culture elements, I hope to use these tools to amplify the students’ concerns and ideas. Maybe make our own account as the Student Trustees. Then students can reach out to us anonymously or via Instagram direct messaging and other social networks. When you’re not busy with academics or serving, what extracurricular activities do you participate in? Isabella:
I played sports as a kid growing up, and did competitive dance, but when it came to my studies, school was always a priority for me. Besides my family and school, my friends are my number one priority. I try to make as much time as possible to see them. I also love to go on walks and exercise, it’s always good to stay physically active. I also love trying a new restaurant every week. Growing up, we’d always go to the same chain restaurants as a family, but when I got older, I discovered James Street North. A few weeks ago, I tried the French and, wow, it was amazing. Katarina:
I’m an ambassador for Grow Stem, which is a team in Ancaster, where we inspire and encourage young women and non-binary students to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I’m also part of The Net Youth Empowerment Group in Ancaster. I design social media posters and mental health care packages that helped ease stress and bring hope for families in need. It was my responsibility to invite an acclaimed Yoga Teacher to provide gentle yoga classes for people to inspire peace and wellbeing. I also play piano. I’m part of the Royal Ontario Conservative of Music and I’m currently studying for the level 6 piano exam. I also am part of TNT news at school. I anchored for the morning announcements during grades 9 and 10, and now I am part of the sound and system crew. And I’m a Prefect - VP Prefect - so I assist students with their academic responsibilities and help with Grade 9 Orientation, Grade 8 Parent Night, and the Honor Roll Assembly. I also love to sketch, paint and I am the designated baker at family events. What are your plans for next year? Isabella:
My top choice right now is McGill, for psychology or sociology, because the end goal is to be a lawyer. I haven’t decided on criminal or family law yet but those are the two types that are nearest and dearest to my heart. If not McGill, then Queen’s University. My cousin went to Australia for law school, but he said University of Sussex in England is also great university, so I’m thinking McGill or Queens for four years, then over to Sussex. But then I need to get over my fear of planes. Katarina:
I hope to attend McMaster University for software engineering. I really enjoy coding and my mom did her studies for software engineering while she was pregnant with me. Hearing that, she’s so amazing. I don’t know how she did it, but she’s a hero. She’s the person that I look up to the most. I want to follow in her footsteps.