Nicolas Bottger is a former two-term Student Trustee at the York Catholic District School Board. As a member of OSTA-AECO during the past two years, he has served as Chair of Data and Research Committee in his first year, and as President of the Catholic Board Council during his second year. Nicolas is currently a Scholar’s student at the University of Western Ontario, studying Economics with Advanced Entry Opportunity into the Ivey School of Business.
When in high school, Nicolas had been heavily involved in his school, partaking in his Student Council, Presidents’ Council, and even starting his school’s DECA Chapter. In his local community, he served as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets for four years. He was also very fortunate to have been selected as a Junior Team Canada Youth Ambassador in Global Vision’s Trade Mission to China in 2014, where he promoted the Canadian mining sector to business executives and government officials. Throughout both his terms as Student Trustee at the YCDSB, Nicolas was a key member in the planning and organization of conferences for students in his board, promoting awareness and providing solutions for the issues affecting youth.
For Nicolas, determination, passion, and efficiency achieve goals that make a lasting impact. He encourages everyone to get involved in their community, doing things not for merit, but for the love of doing them. Having been born in Peru, he has seen the many struggles that the less fortunate have had in not only in household economics, but the effects it has had in childhood education, health, and overall state of wellbeing. Living in the USA for 6 years, and more than 8 in Canada, he has learned the power a proper education has on a populous, and the everlasting effects it has on youth.
Nicolas more than excited to be part of the Executive Council of OSTA-AECO once again, as he looks forward to the many initiatives being planned for the coming school year.
Dasha Metropolitansky is a grade 12 student at White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville, Ontario. She was re-elected as a student trustee for the Halton District School Board, representing over 60 000 students. This is also Dasha’s second year in OSTA-AECO: before having been elected President of the organization, Dasha served as the President of the Public Board Council.
At her school, Dasha is the founder and President of the Law and Mock Trial Society – one of the most popular and competitive clubs. Outside of school, Dasha is one of the best high school debaters in the world. Since grade seven, she has competed all over Canada and around the world in countries such as the United States, England, Turkey, and the Czech Republic. Dasha is a Canadian Junior National Champion, two-time Pan American Champion, and has made the final or won all of the top university tournaments in Canada. Dasha is the youngest debater in history to have been selected for the Canadian national team: she was chosen in grade 8. Since then, she has been a part of the Canadian team at three World Championships in Germany, Singapore and Indonesia. In Germany and Singapore, Canada reached the grand final and placed second overall. In Indonesia, Dasha was ranked the second best high school debater in the world – Canada’s highest individual ranking ever.
Dasha channels her communication and persuasion skills into her passion for student advocacy. She is on the Board of Directors of the Halton Learning Foundation, an incredible local charity which provides emergency funding and subsidies for disadvantaged Halton students.
When Dasha isn’t debating, leading a school club, or speaking at an event, you will likely find her watching an episode of Suits or whipping up a killer chocolate cake.
Ben Smith is a grade 12 student at St. Brother Andre Catholic High School in Markham, Ontario. He is a two term Student Trustee at the York Catholic District School Board, where he represents the voices of 55,000 students. Ben believes strongly that education is the silver bullet to all the world’s problems and is proud to play a part in improving our education system in Ontario.
Ben is a strong advocate of Ontario’s current education system and the effectiveness of it. He especially believes in the need for a school system that nurtures the mind, body and spirit, while creating collaborative contributors, responsible global citizens and lifelong learners rooted in Gospel values that will make positive contributions to our world.
Ben is a professional communications operative, having worked in public relations, broadcasting, journalism and corporate communications. He’s been able to use his media skills to successfully pitch producers and secure segments on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, CTV News, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and Hockey Night in Canada.
Ben brings a unique perspective to student advocacy. He believes in the value of team culture, humour and teamwork to get results and reach out to all stakeholders and partners. A passionate and persuasive personality, Ben believes in working to develop successful teams and a winning culture through pragmatism, passion, integrity, courage and respect. He fosters a culture of loving what we do, while doing more with less.
Put simply: More and more we’ve come to expect less and less from each other and Ben thinks that needs to change.
Ben is a hockey player, coach and referee. He also is a sports broadcaster and serves as the host of the OJHL on Rogers TV. He’s been credentialed as a member of the media by the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), Hockey Canada and the National Hockey League (NHL).
Ben’s biggest belief is that decisions are made by those who show up and it’s his hope that he will play a part in a team that will inspire all students, no matter what walk of life they come from, to show up to play a part in building an education system that fulfills that unwritten commandment to leave the world in a better place than when we found it.
Shams Mehdi is a grade 12 Extended French student at Leaside High School in Toronto, ON and is currently in his first year as Student Trustee of the Toronto District School Board. Shams has been very involved with student advocacy and is very passionate about the issues and concerns of all students.
Shams has been apart of the Toronto District School Board Student Senate since he was in grade 7. He has held positions such as Grade 7/8 representative, Area Co-Chair and Vice President. This year Shams was elected as the first two-term Student Trustee of the TDSB. Shams has also taken part in two Ministry of Education think tanks on the Civics and Careers curriculum.
Outside of school, Shams has been apart of the Army Cadet program for the past four years, achieving the Gold Medallion of the Basic DNC course at CSTC Blackdown. Shams has also been involved with the Sears Drama festival as the director of his school’s play. He was also given the District Award of Merit for his direction on the play. He’s also heavily involved within his community through volunteering for local food banks and fundraising events.
Shams is very excited for his role as Public Board Council President for OSTA-AECO. He is excited to be working alongside his colleagues on the Executive Council as well as the Public Board Council Cabinet.
Rita Ramotar is a grade twelve student currently attending West Carleton Secondary School, within the city of Ottawa, Ontario. She is excited to serve her first term as a student trustee for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) comprising 72 000 students during the 2017-2018 school year.
Within her community, she has contributed to local student governance and leadership as a long-standing member of students’ council, and participated as well in a variety of student clubs with the goal of helping the community. Furthermore, Rita Ramotar also served as an elected representative of her student senate, where she interviewed students and provided input to the school board during the senate symposium. At the same time, her experience in high school over the past three years has helped her understand and define the roles and responsibilities of a student leader and develop an appreciation of the ways in which they contribute to the student body within her school.
Rita is very excited to have been elected as Vice President of the Public Board Council as that would enable her to ensure that student voice is directed with a unity of purpose towards the achievement of common goals across the province of Ontario. She is in support of the organization’s platform, which allows the students in Ontario to have their voices heard and from that, the organization strives to hash out common ground in the achievement of the common goals. During the execution of her role as Vice President, Rita hopes to enable others to promote student voice in Ontario, and to ensure that all students in the province are properly represented.
When she is not at school or any extracurricular activities, she can be found reading, listening to music or watching movies.
Christina Atrach lives in Georgetown, Ontario, where she is a grade 12 student that attends Christ the King Secondary School. She is an active leader both in her school and community. Christina’s passion for leadership and helping others began at a very young age, as she was always looking for an opportunity to become an involved individual. She shines a radiant light of love and positivity in the lives of all those she meets. A philosophy she follows in life is the concept that change is made by those who do not give up and results are made possible through the process of dedication.
She currently is a Student Trustee for the Halton Catholic District School Board, a member of Minister Hunter’s Student Advisory Council, and a mentor for students in her school community. Her positive mentality, collaborative skills, and dedicated work ethic make her a well suited individual for a variety of tasks. Christina creates a genuine relationship with all those she meets, whether they may be stakeholders or the students that she graciously represents.
Christina enjoys advocating for student wellness on both the board and provincial level. It is her hope that all students are given a safe and inclusive environment to learn in, so that they may receive an education where they can reach their full potential. Christina believes that everyone has the ability to establish change that will better others if they put their mind to it. She hopes to assist students of Ontario in creating the change that they desire to see in the educational system by working with an incredible team of powerful leaders.
Alex MacDonald is currently a grade 12 student at Earl of March Secondary School, in Ottawa Ontario. In 2016 he was elected as Student Trustee for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board and continues to represent the 72 000 within the OCDSB for the 2017-2018 school year. Alex was pleased to serve on the Executive Council of OSTA-AECO as Administrations Officer from 2016 to 2017, and looks forward to continuing his work in education. Alex highly values the right to education, and strives to protect and shape the system which he believes in so much.
Alex’s involvement began when he was 10 years old, and championed a proposal to the Parent council asking for new play equipment for his school. Since then his participation in a variety of clubs including the eco club, debate club, student council, parent council, concert and jazz bands, cancer fundraisers, and musicals, has helped to instill a sense of pride and dedication in him, for his community.
Since Alex’s involvement in the school community he has noticed the value of volunteers and support staff, and strives to give back to his community as a thank you to these dedicated individuals and their work that has shaped his life. Through his volunteering, he has been able to support the healthy snack program at his elementary school, support scholastic book fairs for children’s literature and promote parent/student info night’s that cover a diverse range of important topics in education such as Mental Health and internet safety.
Most recently Alex, in coordination with the student senate, has helped to promote direct student engagement in the hopes of creating more equitable opportunities for the students of the OCDSB. Thanks to the hard work of many individuals Alex, along with the Student Senate, was able to host a student voice symposium bringing together students, educators and staff from all walks of the education system.
Throughout his student career Alex has strongly believed in the support of a variety of programs that cater to a diverse and unique student population. He strongly believes that every student deserves the opportunity to participate in something that motivates them and has shown his devotion to this mandate by supporting school programs in many capacities, and continues to support student advocacy and engagement as a Student Trustee.
Along with being in his second term as Student Trustee and as an OSTA-AECO Executive Member, Alex is an avid traveller, actor, singer and musician. He is also very passionate about business, politics and law, and hopes he can, one day, encourage equality and justice on a professional level.
This fall, Katie will be attending the University of Western Ontario to study a dual degree of Health Sciences and Ivey Honours in Business Administration. She recently graduated Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School in Sudbury Ontario and served as the 2016-2017 Student Trustee for the Rainbow District School Board. Katie was also a part of the Executive Council this past year as Operations Officer for the Ontario Student Trustee’s Association – l’Association les élèves conseillers et conseillères de l’Ontario.
With the position of Operations Officer, Katie aided the committees in accomplishing their goals, resulting in two new province wide scholarships, a Student Trustee Handbook and video guide, a First Nations Inuit and Metis Advisory Council and the implementation of the new Student Well-Being committee.
Outside of OSTA, Katie spent the past year selling her local business, The Sudbury Drive-In. Last summer she put countless hours into creating a Drive-In Movie theater to bring her community together and bring back a classic family friendly experience for all. In leaving for university, Katie and her business partners sold the company to a young group of homeschooled students to keep the drive-in alive. Katie has also been working for the past 4 years at one of Canada’s most interactive Science Centers, Science North, as a Bluecoat Demonstrator helping to educate Sudbury’s youth through fun hands-on workshops. In her spare time she also volunteered at the local hospital. Katie enjoys being active in many aspects of her community and is eager to continue to do so in a new environment at University.
Katie is excited to be returning to the Ontario Student Trustee’s Association – l’Association les élèves conseillers et conseillères de l’Ontario as Policy Officer this upcoming year. She recognizes the importance of position papers and the direct method of putting student voice on paper. She is looking forward to working with the incoming Executive Council to achieve the goals they have set. She knows that this incoming Executive will play a large role in the development of the education system and can’t wait to see what is accomplished.
Nico Tripodi is a grade 12 student at St. Francis Catholic Secondary School, in St. Catharines, with a distinct passion for amplifying student voice. In the spring of 2017, he was elected to serve a second term as Student Trustee of the Niagara Catholic District School Board. At the board table, Nico speaks on behalf of Niagara Catholic’s 23,000 students.
Nico’s multifaceted school involvement has included activities such as rowing, volleyball, student council, choir, mathletes and various social justice committees. Outside of school, Nico has served as the Social Media Coordinator for the 134th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, spearheading the digital modernization of the largest amateur rowing event in North America. As well, Nico has volunteered as the Logistics Coordinator for AVA Conferencing (Don’t Freak Out!), assisting in the preparation of a financial literacy seminar for secondary and post-secondary students.
A musician at heart, Nico’s involvement in the arts ranges from 8 years of classical vocal training to his work as A DJ for weddings and corporate events. Nico currently performs in a contemporary duo known as Tuscany. Nico has played at numerous venues and festivals throughout the Golden Horseshoe Region. Aside from vocals, Nico plays guitar, piano and ukulele. He is currently exploring digital music production.
Nico has been involved in board-wide student leadership at Niagara Catholic since the eighth grade. He believes that a student leader’s greatest challenge is the larger student body’s general unawareness of student leadership efforts; all students have something to say, although many students are unaware that there is a preexisting platform to assist them in being heard. Nico intends to use his second term of student trustee to promote awareness of Niagara Catholic’s student leadership infrastructure.
Nico’s board-wide goals align with his longterm vision of OSTA-AECO’s public identity. He approaches the position of Public Affairs Officer with a desire to shape the organization’s brand into one that is both relevant and prominent among Ontario’s student population. Nico strives to promote awareness of the organization and its members, creating a provincial environment where student trustees are able to better connect and communicate with their peers.
Entering her second term as a Student Trustee for the Toronto Catholic District School Board, Rhea Carlisle is a grade 12 student at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School in Toronto, Ontario. As one of the Student Trustees for the TCDSB, Rhea represents the voice of over 92,000 students at a board level. This past year, Rhea Co-Chaired the Catholic Student Leadership Impact Team (CSLIT) where she was able to facilitate two CSLIT Camp getaways, three symposiums lead by the CSLIT Executive Council, ten successful board-wide General Assembly meetings, and a board-wide Voices That Challenge Conference in partnership with Me to We.
Before being elected to serve as a Student Trustee, Rhea was the Secretary of her school’s Student Council, a member of the Safe Schools Ambassador team, and led many extracurricular activities within her school community such as a mental health awareness week.
This year, Rhea is honoured to have been elected as the Operations Officer for the Ontario Student Trustees Association after having served as one of the Co-Chairs for the Ontario Student Voice Awards Committee for a year. She is very excited to be a part of an organization that offers such a unique perspective and strives towards creating a platform where the students of Ontario have their voices heard and recognized. As Operations Officer, she hopes to improve the way Committees connect with the General Assembly of OSTA-AECO. She also will be looking to promote outreach to the students of Ontario so they are aware that their voices are heard and that every student matters. Rhea believes that student voice is essential to promoting a positive and healthy learning environment for all students.
During the summer, Rhea volunteers with an Arts Summer Camp, promoting engagement in the arts as a positive outlet for youth to express themselves. In her spare time, she enjoys perfecting different guacamole recipes and participating in competitive swimming.
Kieran Desjardins is entering into her second term as Student Trustee for the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board. In the fall, Kieran will be a grade 12 student attending St. Mary’s College (SMC) in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Although she represents the voice of a small number of students, Kieran is passionate about her role. This past year, Kieran participated in a district wide event, involving both Catholic and public school boards, called YouTheSoo. At this WE Day-style event, Kieran had the opportunity to address over 5,000 students from across the northern region. She spoke about her role as Student Trustee, her student senate and the importance of school, community and worldwide involvement.
Since Kieran’s grade 9 year, she has been an active member of both her school and her community. Her passion for student involvement first started when she joined the St. Mary’s College anti-bullying group called IMPACT. She later joined the volleyball team, dance team, and cancer campaign committee, all while balancing Advanced Placement and French Immersion courses. She then brought the goodness, discipline and knowledge gained at SMC outside of school and volunteered with the Canadian Cancer Society and became an assistant coach for the Sault Ste. Marie Speed Skating Club. In addition, Kieran participated in the 2015 Youth Forum and had the unique opportunity to present the creative ideas of her high school peers to the Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie, Christian Provenzano.
As a Catholic student trustee, Kieran has strong faith-based values and she believes in the importance of giving to those in need. She participated in the Heaven Cent Campaign at her school by collecting donations and lending her penchant for the dramatic to a Campaign play . During the Advent season, Kieran distributed cheques to the YMCA, Elks Oncology Van and Push for Change. Making positive changes in the community with fellow HSCDSB students is something Kieran is proud of.
Furthermore, as this year’s French Relations Officer, Kieran continuously embraces her capacity to fluently read, write and speak the language. She has successfully completed her DELF (Diplôme d’études en langue française) at the B2 level, and will be graduating with honors in her French Immersion program. Every day Kieran is grateful for her capabilities of understanding the French language as she is able to embrace incredible opportunities, such as tutoring other students and of course, being this year’s French Relations Officer.
Throughout her student life, Kieran continuously supports and encourages students to voice their opinions on the things they are most passionate about. She strongly believes in giving equal opportunities to students to advocate for themselves, and envisions an education system where no student fears voicing their opinion and all voices are heard.
As French Relations Officer, Kieran is extremely excited to build relationships with French students in Ontario as wells as other French allies. When Kieran’s spare time isn’t spent skating around an oval at breakneck speeds, it is surely spent pushing herself at the gym or happily accepting the enthusiastic snuggles of the love of her life: her golden retriever, Oaklee.
Seoyoon Kim is a grade 11 student at A.B. Lucas Secondary School in London, Ontario. She is currently in her first term as Student Trustee of Thames Valley District School Board, representing approximately 76,000 students.
Seoyoon’s involvement at school includes intermediate and senior band, science club, DECA and tutoring junior students in math. As an activist for STEMM, Seoyoon competed and placed in numerous math and science competitions, including London District Science Olympics, Western Polar Stick Bridge Competition and TVDSB Math Challenge. This school year, she looks forward to her placement with the Partners in Experiential Learning(PEL) program, engaging in the academic STEMM disciplines in health research at University of Western Ontario as a Co-op student.
Outside of school, Seoyoon has been highly involved in the arts. She has been taking private lessons for flute for over 8 years along with various of other instruments. As a flutist, Seoyoon was the winner of senior woodwind instruments at Kiwanis Festival this spring and in June, she competed in 2017 Provincial Finals Competition, winning the second place award as a provincial finalist. From a young age, Seoyoon actively participated as a musician performing at her school’s concerts, nursing homes, as well as a member of Western Honour Band.
As a senior dancer at her academy, Seoyoon has been assisting and teaching ballet, jazz and contemporary for more than 5 years. Seoyoon performed twice a year at a local theatre during the year, while acting as a camp counselor for March break camps. This year, Seoyoon completed her Advanced Foundation level of Royal Academy of Dance(RAD) and currently holds her Grade 4, 5, 6, 7, Intermediate Foundation and Intermediate RAD completion with Award of Merit.
This year, Seoyoon is beyond excited to work as Media Design Officer for OSTA-AECO along with the Executive Council. She highly values equity in education and looks forward to do all that she can to advocate for student voice.
Branden Wheeler is a grade 12 student at John Diefenbaker Senior School in Hanover, Ontario. He is currently serving his second term as a Student Trustee for the Bluewater District School Board, representing over 16 000 students. Branden is honoured to serving as this year’s Administrations Officer and will strive to do everything he can to ensure OSTA-AECO accomplishes their goals.
Branden’s interest in politics and student advocacy began when he was in grade 10, gaining the opportunity to sit on his board’s student senate. Then, in 2016, Branden was elected to represent his board on the provincial level as a Student Trustee in the general assembly of OSTA-AECO. That year, he also joined up with the OSTA-AECO policy committee to write position papers based on issues that greatly affect the students of Ontario. Also, for the past 3 years, Branden has sat on his board’s Special Education Advisory Committee as he is a voracious advocate of the rights of special education students.
In his school community, Branden tries to get involved in any way he can, joining as many extra-curricular activities as his schedule can handle. Presently, he is a member of his school’s concert band, jazz band, Skills Robotics team, ski club, badminton team and student council. He also sits on the school’s parent council in order to bring student needs and concerns to the school administration. Additionally, he is enrolled in a High Skills Major Program in Information and Communication Technologies, allowing him to gain experience in the field in which he wants to have a career in his future.
Outside of school, Branden holds several part time jobs. He works as a page at his local library in Durham, Ontario and as a computer technician in Hanover, Ontario. In his spare time, Branden enjoys reading and playing music on his alto saxophone and piano.
Amal Qayum is a grade 11 student attending Westlane Secondary School in Niagara Falls. Amal is very passionate about student advocacy, as she wholeheartedly believes that students of today will shape the future. She is serving her first term as the first two-year term Student Trustee for the District School Board of Niagara, and is thrilled to be entering the year 2017-2018 as the Professional Development Officer for OSTA-AECO.
Amal has attended schools in three different school boards across Ontario, and has taken part in student government from a very early age. Amal has been a part of student council for 7 years, and has planned numerous events such as Multicultural Night and Mental Wellness Symposiums/initiatives. Outside of school, Amal has spent over 60 hours volunteering, and teaching children how to read/write in Arabic. She has also spent over 70 hours giving free swim lessons to under privileged children, whose families are not able to afford such leisure’s. Amal is an active member within the National Youth Advisory Committee, and has helped the RCMP come up with relevant campaigns to engage youth. She serves as the Student Liaison for the Education Foundation of Niagara, who work tirelessly to provide financial help to the students of DSBN. Amal is also a competitive swimmer, and has placed at OFSAA.
Being an immigrant, Amal is very passionate about providing everyone with equal opportunities, no matter their race/religion or anything that may define them. She knows first hand how hard it is for youth in other countries to be students, which is why she is so passionate about providing education for all. She strongly believes that education is a good place to begin in attempt to fixing several issues that we face in the world today.
Serving as the Professional Development Officer allows Amal to use her passion of planning and providing useful resources to Student Trustees across the province. She is very excited to play a key role in planning three successful conferences for OSTA-AECO in this upcoming year.