THUNDER BAY -- Flo Southcott has spent her entire final year of high school trying to leave behind a significant impact.
The Grade 12 IB student at Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate and Vocational Institute has taken many of the lessons she has learned in the classroom and has spent countless hours working to make a difference.
“As citizens of Thunder Bay I think we owe it to our city to give back,” she said. “We talk a lot about being a global citizen so I like to take any time I can to give to the international community as well as volunteer at organizations in Thunder Bay.”
Locally, the future scholar in the International Development and Globalization program at the University of Ottawa has worked with organizations such as the Shelter House and Dew Drop Inn to work to fundraise and volunteer for those less fortunate.
“I’m really interested in bridging the gap between the different social classes. I think we have a lot of problems with homelessness when we don’t really need to,” Southcott said.
Southcott, who received an award for her citizenship, was one of 61 students recognized by the local District 6A branch of the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation at their annual excellence in education awards ceremony, which was held in the auditorium at Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute on Saturday.
Graysen Thompson, a student at Superior, was recognized for her leadership and says receiving praise for her contributions from teachers and other school community members s is a gratifying feeling.
She has been an active volunteer and prominent member of school organizations such as the Natural Helpers program.
“I think everyone should be volunteering, especially youth, because there are so many things going on not just in the world but in the community that we need to be aware of and help out,” Thompson said.
Epilepsy awareness is a cause that hits close to home for Thompson, after losing someone close to her from the disorder. She responded by channeling that passion into organizing a school fundraiser last year.
This year she has been a member of the group hosting former Olympic athlete Clara Hughes when she will visit on her cross-country trek working to erase the stigma of mental illness.
The federation, which represents staff members at the four Lakehead District School Board high schools and the adult learning centre, handed out awards in eight categories.
In addition to citizenship and leadership, excellence in academic achievement, personal achievement, technical skills, the arts, business skills and athletics were also recognized.
Hammarskjold High School student Brayden Halvorson was one who was lauded for his work in the classroom.
Earlier this year, Halvorson was selected as a student researcher in the University of Western Ontario’s Gene Researcher for a Week program, a highly prestigious honour.
He credits his parents for instilling in him the drive that will allow him to pursue a medical career and his teachers for giving him an appreciation for the subjects in which he has excelled.
“Since I’ve been young my parents taught me to be focused and I do a lot of other things but I think academics is the main priority for me,” Halvorson said.
“I had really good science teachers all through high school so I think that was the main reason I really got interested in it.”
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