Enrique Olivo, 22, is running to become Ward 12 trustee at Toronto Catholic District School Board; Tomasz Glod, 19, is a trustee candidate for Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board; Steven Travale, 20, a trustee candidate for Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board in Hanover, Ont. Photos courtesy of student trustee candidates

Young trustee candidates see age as advantage in leading at Catholic school boards

  • September 13, 2018

In Grade 6, Tomasz Glod wrote a speech in school about why he would make a great prime minister. 

“I am willing to enforce any problems the school has,” he proclaimed at the age of 11. “I think that children should be allowed to take electronics to school. Why? During indoor (recess), most of the children are so-to-speak ‘bored’ and then the teachers get surprised why we’re all acting like animals because these animals are bored! We should supply them with more computers not only for the animals but also for educational purposes.”

Eight years later, the 19-year old trustee candidate for Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board  (DPCDSB) said he still stands by his statement and the passion he carries for the school system. In fact, he adds that school boards should be encouraged to embrace technology in the schools. 

Glod is among many young people who are campaigning to be representatives in their local Ontario Catholic school district this October. There are 331 trustee positions available in Ontario’s 37 Catholic boards, including eight French boards.

“There have always been young people involved in politics, that’s just kind of a given,” said Glod, whose experience includes being student trustee on the board in his final year of high school. “But in terms of this amount of young people, it’s just kind of insane to see so many young people interested in what’s typically seen as mundane a topic as politics.”

Glod knew that being a teenaged trustee was possible because his friend and current DPCDSB trustee Shawn Xaviour had already succeeded before him. Xaviour has served Wards 7-10 since 2014. 

They talked about bringing a youthful perspective to the table and balancing university life with the duties of a trustee. 

“I better understand the issues that my peers, students that are sitting in classrooms, are going through right now because I was just there,” said Glod, who is entering his second-year studying political science and religion at University of Toronto Mississauga. “That is a huge advantage that I bring to the table.”

Steven Travale, 20, a trustee candidate for Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board, said he owes much of his growth in the political arena to the great teachers and mentors who surrounded him at Sacred Heart Catholic High School. After high school, Travale enrolled in the political science program at University of Ottawa where he will be entering his third year of study. He also volunteered in several MP offices on Parliament Hill. 

“With my experience and knowledge I think it’ll serve the board well, particularly when advocating for publicly funded Catholic education,” he said.

Many young candidates got their first taste of school board politics as student trustees. Enrique Olivo, 22, is running to become Ward 12 trustee at Toronto Catholic District School Board. He got his start in Grade 12 as a student trustee in 2013-2014. He said that being a part of the conversation as a student trustee at general board meetings taught him the importance of being an advocate for his peers. 

“We were 15, 16, 17-year-olds who were sitting shoulder to shoulder with officials deciding on policy and budget priorities,” said Olivo. “Looking back at it now, I was encouraged to consider it as a lesson at understanding what it means to have a voice at the table.”

Maria Montemayor, 26, is running against Olivo in the ward. Although she graduated from University of Toronto in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in English and political science, she never thought she would run her own campaign. 

“This is something I have actually been discerning for a number of years,” she said. “I didn’t want to run for something that I didn’t feel was guided by Him…. I just see this as another opportunity where I feel like I can serve young people.”

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