Fresh faces . . . Three East Otago High School pupils have joined the Waitaki District Youth Council for the first time this year. They are (from left) Sam Paton, Josh Walker, and Abigail Paton. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/EAST OTAGO HIGH SCHOOL

East Otago High School is making sure its pupils’ voices can be heard right across the Waitaki district.

Three East Otago pupils – Abigail Paton, Samuel Paton and Joshua Walker – have joined the Waitaki District Youth Council this year.

It is the first time East Otago has been represented on the youth council.

They join 14 other pupils from Waitaki Girls’ High School, Waitaki Boys’ High School and St Kevin’s College on this year’s youth council.

Ranging from year 9 to year 13, the group of East Otago pupils will represent the needs and issues recognised by the Waihemo ward’s youth well.

East Otago High School principal Marcus Cooper said it was a fantastic experience for the pupils.

“One of the things we have to be really mindful of is offering as many opportunities to our students that other bigger schools have. Where there’s a need, we will try as much as we can to fill it,” Mr Cooper said.

Introducing East Otago to the youth council came after a discussion between Mr Cooper and Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher last year.

“[Mr Kircher] said ‘look, we’ve got the Waitaki Youth Council, would you have any students that would be interested?’, and I said, ‘funnily enough, I do’.”

Waitaki district councillors Melanie Tavendale and Hana Halalele were the council representatives in charge of the youth council this year.

Cr Tavendale said it was a great opportunity to help broaden the horizons of the youth council, and the community.

“It’s been fantastic to have them on board. It brings a different perspective as a school that probably isn’t as involved in what happens in Oamaru. When they start doing strategy sessions around the needs of the community, it’s a really different way of looking at it which is really valuable.”