From left to right, Vice-President Noel Strombom, Grade 12 rep Olivia Favreau, and President Issy Romas were among the record 39 students who ran for a seat on next school year’s student council at GidGalang Kuuyas Naay. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Wave of new clubs, events coming to GidGalang Kuuyas Naay

“Wow, we’re actually making a difference in this school — I want to be a part of this,” says Issy Romas.

Watch out next school year when waves of swift, strong Breakers come rolling out of GidG̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay.

Students at the Queen Charlotte high school voted overwhelmingly on May 31 to make “Breakers” the new name for school sports teams and clubs.

“It’s a moment in history,” joked Olivia Favreau, the Grade 12 rep for next year’s student council.

Student artist Lillian Gibbard will design the school’s new Breakers logo, which will eventually go on hats, hoodies, and team jerseys.

Dozens of names were in the running, with students mindful to avoid using the names of animals that already represent Haida clans.

One idea that fell by the wayside was “GidG̱alang Guppies,” a name that started as a joke but picked up a handful of real fans.

“No, no, no,” said Noel Strombom, vice-president of the student council, who also plays on the boys basketball team.

“I hated it the whole time,” said Issy Romas, the new student council president.

“It was awesome,” Olivia said.

Launching the Breakers is just one of many new student-led happenings at GidG̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay.

For a start, over a quarter of the school’s 142 students ran for a student council seat — a school record.

Issy said a big reason she ran was many new teams and clubs students helped to kick-off this year.

“I was like, ‘Wow, we’re actually making a difference in this school — I want to be a part of this.”

Besides basketball, soccer, volleyball, track, badminton, and an intramural softball team, GidG̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay now has a debate club and a drama club, and next year student council will act on tips from Grade 8 student Hailey Palfy to start an outdoor adventure and book and movie club.

Earlier this month, Noel also helped organize a school spirit day with a students-versus-teachers basketball game and barbecue that may well become a new tradition.

Fielding a team with girls and boys from every grade, the students won the game, but not without controversy.

“Mr. Reid added and took away points,” Issy said.

“We’re not going to talk about that,” Olivia said.

“It was a very close game.”

Much of the student council’s nearly $10,000 budget — which comes from the Gwaii Trust Youth Council, the teachers union, student fundraisers, and other sources — will go to on- and off-island transportation.

Next November, the student council hopes to bring colleagues from Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay in Masset down south for an All-Island Sports Day.

“We don’t really have that many chance to interact with Masset school, so that would be a really good time for us to be like a big family,” Olivia said.

Noel agreed, noting that the all-island Haida Gwaii Youth Assembly sets a great example.

“I loved it,” he said. “I made a lot of friends there.”

An all-island student leadership retreat is also in the works — the camping trip will help student leaders work together.

Counting all the class reps, plus the president, vice-president, Treasurer Tia Nicol, Secretary Xiila Guujaaw, Grade Representatives Caitlin Peerless, Taimen Vigneault, Olivia Ives and an upcoming rep for Grade 8, the GidG̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay student council will have 21 members in total.

Issy, Noel, and Olivia already seem to have their act together, having joined the new drama club this year — theirs was the first Haida Gwaii team to join the northwest drama zone tournament in many years.

“We learned so much on that trip,” said Issy, noting that they got a chance to use a theatre with a full lighting and sound set-up.

“It was complicated,” said Noel, who was among the headset-wearing stagehands at the controls.

“By the time the reading happened, it felt kind of professional,” said Olivia, adding that the one funny exception came after the actors finished their performance — the stage lights didn’t come up in time for a final bow.

“We started going back and then the lights turned back on — you just saw five kids branching off into the exits,” she said, laughing.

All three students said they’re looking forward to drama club next year, and to student council.

“I think it’s a really good thing that we have these now,” Olivia said.

“There’s more options, it’s more fun.”

“It’s just cool to know what’s going on in the school, and to help organize things,” Issy said.