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11 exceptional Oak Bay youth honoured at 2019 YES Awards

Youth recognized for volunteerism, arts, citizenship, academics, athletics, overcoming obstacles
Event creator and chair of the YES Awards committee, Hazel Braithwaite, emcees the YES Awards April 30 at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Each year Oak Bay recognizes the accomplishments of students in Grades 6 through 10, who live or attend school in Oak Bay and have overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. A panel selects a handful of Young Exceptional Star Awards, issued April 30 in front of 100 people gathered to recognize the power of youth.

Coun. Hazel Braithwaite created the YES Awards during her first term on council. It was a way to recognize youth, bring in business to help with that recognition, and invite the seniors’ group leadership to remind them of good works by youth in the community. The goal is to emphasize a variety of talents, efforts and character beyond athletics and academics.

“The goal of the awards is to celebrate and emphasize the positive achievements of Oak Bay’s young people by recognizing those who have distinguished themselves in such areas as volunteerism arts citizenship academics athletics or have overcome obstacles to achieve their goals,” Braithwaite said during the 2019 ceremony.

Ryan Killoran – Grade 8 – St. Michaels University School

A triple threat is not a term that can be given to many 14-year-olds,but Ryan Killoran is well deserving of that title. This year, Ryan was the captain and star of the Grade 8 basketball team, the lead in the middle school musical and a model student in the classroom. Mr. Bell, Humanities 8 teacher and basketball coach, says this is his first year teaching and coaching Ryan at St. Michaels University School and he is blown away by the poise and humbleness that Ryan shows each day.

On the basketball court, Ryan is a tremendous player who leads by example. He is a very cerebral individual, seeing plays that most cannot at the Grade 8 level, which encourages his teammates to play in the same unselfish way. Ryan has shown that he is not only talented enough to play basketball at a high level but that he also possesses the desire to improve and the character needed to be a good teammate and competitor. He is a hard worker in both practice and games and is very coachable.

On stage, Ryan’s talent and confidence shines through. In this year’s middle school musical, Seussical, Ryan earned the lead role of Cat in the Hat and delivered his lines with humor and grace in front of a full crowd at the McPherson Playhouse. Ryan’s performing talents do not stop at his acting abilities, however, as he is a talented singer and flautist, with an impressive affinity for improvisation in the school’s Jazz Band.

In the classroom, Ryan is a confident and enthusiastic learner who excels in verbal debates and discussions in Humanities class. Ryan provides insight and shows excellent understanding in all aspects of the curriculum while also demonstrating respect to his peers and a willingness to help out around the classroom. Ryan’s report card confirms that his other teachers would tell you the same thing. In addition, he is a role model to younger students as he also participated in the school’s WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) program that welcomes the Grade 6 students into the middle school to help with their transition from the Junior School. Ryan epitomizes SMUS’ four leadership pillars – Service, Honesty, Respect and Courage – and has since he came to the middle school.

Mr. Bell feels that Ryan is well deserving of the YES Award as he excels in all aspects of his school and has the drive and character traits that make anything in his future possible.

Matthew Hinton – Grade 7 – Monterey Middle School

According to nominator Mark Brown, he could not think of a more deserving youth to receive a 2019 YES Award.

Mr. Brown says that Matthew showed up in the Grade 7 classroom at Monterey Middle School as a sheepish newcomer after living and going to school on one the Gulf Islands. After having been home-schooled, the shock of the bigger school with its busy, noisy atmosphere must have been a little much for this observant, gentle young man. But Matthew has, with quiet, calm determination, established excellence in everything he does.

He is a ‘straight-A’ student, especially brilliant in math, and has become one of the few students approved by the principal to serenade students on an artsy-painted upright piano that sits in the school’s entrance hall. In class, Matthew always contributes intelligently and maturely in lessons, and is known by classmates for being helpful and knowledgeable about all things.

Matthew is a force to be reckoned with on the chessboard. On a project where Mr. Brown asked students to find the area of a model house of their own design, Matthew constructed a gorgeous three-storey wooden mansion in a High Victorian style. He was asked for the area of one floor; and he gave all three.

In his spare time Matthew loves working with wood. He recently built a chessboard and aspires to design and build boats. In over a decade of teaching at Monterey Middle School, Mr. Brown says he has rarely come across such a fine, genteel, talented young man. Matthew ceaselessly develops his talents in music, craftsmanship and academic pursuits. For these reasons we agree with Mr. Brown and feel Matthew is an excellent candidate and a Young Exceptional Star Award.

Jessica Soule – Grade 11 – Glenlyon Norfolk School

Looking at the world today and the issues that affect so many causes most people look away and focus on themselves as a means of self-preservation. However, there are a special few people who look at the world with empathy and compassion and possess the conviction to make a change. To Glenlyon Norfolk teacher Elspeth Easton, Jessica Soule is one of these special people.

When you meet Jessica what becomes clear within seconds is that she is someone who dismisses preconceptions and aims to make anyone in her vicinity feel at ease. It is unsurprising therefore that someone with such innate empathy would choose to tackle a topic as complex and misunderstood as mental health.

Two-and-a-half years ago a close family friend of Jessica’s sadly took their own life at 18. It was their wish that mental health would become something that could be discussed in the open, allowing those suffering to gain support from their community. This tragedy inspired Jessica to advocate for youth mental health resources and dialogue being available to those who need it the most, destigmatizing the conversation and allowing communities to support those who are struggling in an open fashion.

From that starting point, Jessica actively is working to break down the stigmas of mental health and addiction and is focusing on harm reduction, proving definitively that mental health cannot be ignored. Not only did she produce a short documentary, tool kit and resource guide but she created a continued action project titled “This is: Harm Reduction” – allowing her to advance community and school youth education initiatives such as naloxone training. Jessica knows that meaningful conversations are imperative in tackling today’s opioid crisis. Her work has also connected her with other inspiring individuals in the field in order to dismiss the idea that mental health is “simply too difficult to talk about.”

Dreanna Picard, recovery addict and mental health and addiction worker, says this about Jessica: “Jessica is one of the most driven youths I’ve ever met. I met Jessica last year while we were working together at the International Overdose Awareness Day. I was instantly amazed by her compassion and care for her community. Over the last year I’ve gotten to spend more time with Jessica. She’s put on multiple events to reach out to youth and parents in the hopes of educating them and creating a safe space to have conversations around harm reduction, mental health and addiction. It’s been a true privilege and honour to get to be part of these discussions and I look up to her and all the work she puts into her community. I’m very grateful that she’s being recognized for her all of her efforts. I see nothing but big things for Jessica in her future and can’t wait to get the chance to work with her more in the coming years.”

In addition to Jessica’s work in the areas of mental health and harm reduction, she is a member of the Victoria Youth Clinic’s ‘Youth Action Council’ and Foundry BC’s ‘Organizational Governance Youth Council’. Through these organizations, she has been able to volunteer with the Victoria Period Project, a warm clothing drive, and has been a guest on the Victoria Foundation’s Vital Victoria Podcast. Jessica is also part of the SPARK Global Philanthropic Foundation program, and for two years she has done some notable community service for the Greater Victoria Public Library as part of the GVPL Teen Council, judging a young writer’s competition and organizing an award reception.

Action and compassion like this is impressive in any individual, and the fact that this work is done in conjunction with a busy academic and extracurricular schedule speaks to Jessica’s ethos of giving herself fully to the initiatives she is a part of, and she does so with a grace that belies her years.

It is inspiring to see a young woman who is unwilling to turn away from the issues facing our community and instead is always one of the first people to instigate change, not because she was asked to but because of her unwavering commitment to make her community a better place for those in it.

Ms. Easton feels that Jessica deserves to be recognized for what she does to make the world a better place, and for that reason we are thrilled to be presenting her with a 2019 Young Exceptional Star Award.

Lauren Rust – Grade 8 - Monterey Middle School

Teacher Josh Elsdon has known Lauren for two years in his role as a teacher at Monterey Middle School. In this time, he says that Lauren has distinguished herself as one of the most school-involved, high achieving students he have ever worked with. Her dedication to academics, athletics, and service is unparalleled, and her caring, helpful attitude identify her as a future leader in our community and world.

Since arriving at Monterey, Lauren has been involved in almost every school team available. The sport she is most passionate about is basketball. She led her school team to the city semifinals, where she was widely considered the top player in the league. Outside of school, she was selected to a Vancouver Island Selects team that earned a Silver Medal in the BC Summer Games. The club team she plays for participated in the National Club Championships, where she earned a bronze medal.

Lauren is also an accomplished defender in soccer. She was selected for the Vancouver Island Performance League team, identifying her as one of her club’s top players. Last year, her team captured the Gold Medal at the Provincial Championships, and they are gearing up to defend their crown, having already qualified for the provincials again this year. Last summer her Bays United Gold Tea - the other team she plays for - won the provincials (she plays defence).

Lauren is also a high level volleyball player, leading her Monterey Team to the City Championship game and also being selected for the prestigious “Momentum” competitive club volleyball team. Finally, Lauren competed this year in the Vancouver Island High School Ski league. Despite her age disadvantage, Lauren placed top 5 in all her races, beating many grade 11 and 12 students!

In addition to her athletics, Lauren is also active in creative pursuits and school service. She is a member of a hip hop company with Boston Dance that competes at Festival and other events all over North America. She also plays the piano and clarinet both in the community and in the Monterey School Band.

Lauren is, indeed, an exceptional star in our community, but her light shines far beyond the achievements outlined above. One needs only to spend time with Lauren to recognize the dedication, drive, and joy she exudes every day. It is without reservation that Mr. Elsdon nominated Lauren as a Young Exceptional Star. He feels that although she would never seek the recognition herself, her achievements and dedication to service deserve our applause.

MacKenzie Porter – Grade 10 – Oak Bay High School

Brent Garraway has been teaching MacKenzie Porter physical education since September, and since January he has been working with her as a member of Live Different Oak Bay. While working with MacKenzie, he says he has come to realize what an exceptional young woman she is. The YES Awards celebrate local youth who excel at one or more of the following: Academics, Community Service/Citizenship, The Arts and/or Athletics, and Overcoming obstacles. It’s fair to say that MacKenzie excels at every one of these categories.

In regards to academics, MacKenzie averaged over 90 per cent throughout the first term while completing a full course load. She strives each year for honour roll standing with distinction, and it looks like she will accomplish this again this year. Community service and citizenship is another area where MacKenzie is excelling. She has recently been selected as a member of Live Different Oak Bay 2020. Within this program, she will fundraise and volunteer locally for the 14 months before travelling to Vicente Guerrero, Mexico in order to build homes for impoverished families. Mr. Garraway thinks it says a lot about our young students when they are willing to commit such a large amount of time to helping others, especially when the trip is scheduled during spring break and the students must pay a large amount of money in order to participate within the program. MacKenzie was one of 36 students selected out of 108 who applied and she is already showing a readiness to befriend everyone, no matter what grade or social group they are in.

MacKenzie’s greatest strength may be her athletic ability. After captaining the junior team in 2018 as a Grade 9, MacKenzie is one of only two Grade 10s to be selected for the 2019 Oak Bay Senior Girls soccer team. This is an amazing accomplishment for a junior athlete. Her coach has already commented how hard she works each and every practice in an effort to be the best player she can be. She also plays locally on the Bays United U-16 VIPL team and is looking for opportunities to train and improve whenever possible.

Because of the type of person that MacKenzie is, she will never discuss the obstacles that she has overcome. Since the start of Grade 9, MacKenzie has lived with her sister, while her parents still live out of province. As a result, she has grown into a strong, independent young woman who has been forced to grow up quite quickly.

Mr. Garraway says he is extremely proud to nominate MacKenzie Porter for the 2019 YES Awards. She is an amazing individual who is striving in all aspects of life.

Jessica Hutcheson – Grade 8 – Monterey Middle School

Jessica (or Jessie) Hutcheson is a Grade 8 student at Monterey Middle School, and according to teacher Sarah Wilson, is most deserving of this special recognition, not only for the thoughtfulness demonstrated towards others daily, but also because of the overall personal growth and excellence Jessie has shown in the three years at Monterey. Ms Wilson has known Jessie for all three of these years, both as drama teacher and as co-supervisor of Monterey’s YCIC.

Middle school is not an easy time for any student, but especially for anyone from a marginalized group. A member of the LGBTQ2+ community, Jessie has demonstrated resiliency, bravery and an awe-inspiring positivity throughout the three years at Monterey. Coming out to the class as bisexual in sixth grade and as non-binary to their school community in seventh grade, Jessie’s pride in who they are sets an example for others to look up to.

Jessie has been an active and invaluable member of the school’s Youth Creating Inclusion Club since the club began last year, and their reliability and compassion for others is incomparable. Recently, Jessie volunteered to partake in a panel discussion held for the school’s Pink Shirt Day assemblies, where Jessie (alongside two other students and a guest speaker) answered questions posed by the student body on how to support trans, non-binary, and two spirit youth. It takes a special level of courage to engage in such an undertaking, and Jessie did so with grace, strength and humour.

In class, Jessie is a natural leader. Jessie is friendly, outgoing and enthusiastic and exhibits a maturity beyond their years. Jessie shares insights and wisdom about the human condition and is remarkably candid about their personal experiences in the world. Jessie fully embraces their uniqueness and leads by example. Jessie’s peers have learned more about what it means to be human through their interactions with Jessie and they have benefited and grown from these experiences with Jessie.

It is undeniable that if it were not for Jessie, Monterey would not have the exceptional Dance Club it does today. Running the club is something Jessie does with unbelievable enthusiasm and care. In addition to their duties of choreography, publicizing announcements and general organization, Jessie takes it upon themself to inspire and enthuse every student in the club, from all levels of dance. An accomplished dancer, choreographer and gymnast, one would not expect Jessie to have as much patience and humility as they do; their capabilities as club organizer extend far beyond those found in the craft itself. Jessie has the gift of leadership and inclusion, their skills in supporting marginalized students exceeding those of many adults. With a sensitive nature paired alongside a strong moral core, it is undoubted that Jessie will be a positive change agent in this world.

While Jessie still has the many complexities of high school and life ahead of them, Ms. Wilson is confident that the resiliency, kindness, leadership, sense of advocacy and pride they have fostered in middle school will set Jessie on the path to success. Ms. Wilson is truly excited to see Jessie continue to thrive in their future endeavors.

An exemplary member of the Monterey student body, Jessie exhibits all the required criteria, and more, of a YES Award recipient.

Sola Dupain – Grade 10 – Ecole Victor-Brodeur

Sola Dupain, Grade 10 student at École Victor-Brodeur, was nominated by Principal Mme. Bernier for the 2019 Young Exceptional Star Award because she felt that Sola excels in many of the areas celebrated by the YES Awards - being a strong student, a talented musician and athlete as well as being involved in her school and community.

Sola is an outstanding student who is fluent in three languages. She receives excellent results in her French classes as well as in English. Sola demonstrated her strength in languages by claiming the first-place award in the school Art Oratoire (francophone public speaking) over the past two years, as well as a second place in the provincial Parent for French award in 2018. Furthermore, Sola recently received the first place award at the 31st annual British Columbia Japanese Speech Contest 2019 at UBC.

Sola is also very much involved in her school’s extracurricular activities as well as her community. She is a member of her student council, involved with the school radio program, as well as a school club working to end child poverty through many student lead initiatives (“Halte à la pauvreté). Sola is also very dedicated to studying piano and is currently preparing for her Grade 8 exam with the Royal Conservatory of Music. She also has Grade 6 Cecchetti-style classic ballet.

Sola’s math and physical education teachers describe her as having a very strong work ethic and dedication, which allow her to excel academically. She is very involved in the school’s extracurricular sports programs including a leadership role as co-organizer of the badminton team. Sola has been dedicated to the sailing program since she stared in Grade 6 and will become a certified sailing instructor in 2019, which will enable her to share her knowledge with younger students.

Sola truly does excel in many of the areas celebrated by the YES Awards.

Griffin Arnatt – Grade 8 – Monterey Middle School

Mr. Elsdon wrote that it was his great pleasure to write the letter in support of Griffin Arnatt For a Young Exceptional Star Award. He has known Griffin for three years in his role as a basketball coach, and more recently as his Grade 8 teacher at Monterey Middle School. In this time, he says Griffin has made a considerable impression on him. He is a rare breed of student, combining academic success, extra-curricular involvement and citizenship in equal measures.

Griffin excels in school and community athletics. Griffin was selected to the Monterey Grade 8 basketball team as a Grade 7 student last year and made a significant impact on the team. This year, Griffin led his school basketball team to capture the city championship, averaging over 25 points a game and leading the team in most statistical categories. Griffin has been identified by the basketball community as one of the top 10 players in British Columbia at his age level, and has been invited for two consecutive years to the All-Island Invite Camp. Earlier this year, Griffin’s club basketball team was invited to play in a prestigious tournament with many of the top players in B.C. Griffin led the team to a first place finish and, according to Oak Bay High coach Chris Franklin, Griffin outplayed many highly regarded prospects and his play was instrumental to the team’s success.

As if that were not enough, basketball is not even Griffin’s primary sport. Griffin is also a top-level swimmer with many accomplishments already in his young career. In February, Griffin competed in the age group winter provincial championships in Vancouver and had a top-five finish in his main events (400 free, 200 free, 100 free, 200 back, 100 back) with a bronze in the 400 free. He holds several age group records at his swim club, and participated in freestyle and backstroke events at the 2018 Summer Games.

Most remarkable to Mr. Elsdon is Griffin’s gentle, kind-hearted nature. Even though Griffin has many accomplishments and gifts to be proud of, he says Griffin remains humble and sweet to the people in his life. He is an excellent sportsman, and always has kind, encouraging words for those who need it. Griffin is committed to community service, helping with timing at his swim meets, and is striving to swim 6,000 meters in two hours at the upcoming Swim-a-Thon fundraiser.

Mr. Elsdon feels that Griffin is the definition of a Young Exceptional Star. He comments that after attending the awards ceremonies for the past 11 years, he has been left each time with a great sense of encouragement from the inspiring youth that have been recognized. He truly feels that Griffin Arnatt stands comfortably in their company, and he believes he would be an outstanding ambassador to the legacy of this award.

Michael Barber – Grade 12 –Oak Bay High School

Ms. Denise Chow has had the pleasure of teaching and learning from Michael Barber, a Grade 12 student at Oak Bay High School. Michael’s proven work ethic, humanitarianism, personal commitment to succeed and academic and athletic accomplishments to date, serve as a stellar example of Oak Bay youth. Through his perseverance, he has earned the respect and admiration of his peers, teachers, coaches, family and workplace supervisors.

This is truly remarkable given his unique learner profile of autism and learning disabilities. Michael has embraced and overcome his learning challenges through sheer tenacity and a heartfelt drive to succeed and graduate this June. In addition, he is a gifted runner and a generous volunteer both at Oak Bay High and in the community.

Since Grade 10, Michael has been a Best Buddies leader and has volunteered many hours scorekeeping at basketball games. For years he has helped organize various community sports events with his dad, Gary. Michael has been the “rabbit” at elementary school cross-country races. He has helped set up and break down the equipment at many sports events. He has stood on the streets of Victoria as a course marshal for the TC 10k and Victoria marathon events for several years. Lastly, Michael has been the assistant coach in his father’s running club of 25 young runners. Recently his dad was away on holiday and Michael led the practices with impressive confidence and skill.

When Michael was six years old, he vividly recalls a time his dad took him to Esquimalt to watch a running event. A children’s 2Km run was about to happen and Michael asked if he could join the race? Initially, his dad said no, but Michael begged him. His dad relented, and Michael was signed up at the last minute. As Michael recalls, “When I got on that starting line, I was determined and focused. I ran away from the field that day with no training and I won my very first race. On that day as a six-year-old, I told myself, I’m going to become a runner…. This is my sport.”

According to Ms. Chow, Michael has clearly dedicated himself to utilize his talents as a distance runner for Oak Bay High, and throughout the world. She goes on to say that Michael is a key member of Oak Bay High School’s Cross Country Team that has won three consecutive provincial championships. Over the years he has also contributed to Oak Bay High’s track dynasty.

In 2017, Michael was selected to represent Canada at the World Junior Paralympic Championships held in Switzerland. He won the gold medal in the 1500m and then placed fourth in the 400m races.

In 2018, Michael travelled to Ottawa and won the Canadian 800m Paralympic Championship. His time in that event ranked him sixth in the world amongst adults – even though he is still in high school. Later, Michael was selected by Athletics Canada to be a member of their high-performance national team – this means that he is an athlete who will be seriously considered as a future Olympic prospect on the Paralympic team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This summer, Michael is a candidate to represent Canada at the Pan American Games to be held in Peru, and the World Championships to be held in Dubai. There is nothing certain about sport, but Michael’s performances to date indicate that he can achieve success and medals at the very highest of levels.

We all look forward to following Michael’s successes as he reaches his future personal bests, and congratulate him as a recipient of a Young Exceptional Star Award.

Luka Hurschler – Grade 7 – Christ Church Cathedral School

Christ Church Cathedral School teacher Lana Salchert has known Luka Hurschler for the past two years as his math and science teacher as well as his Grade 6 homeroom teacher. She says that Luka is academically strong in all subjects and is an integral member of the school community.

According to Ms. Salchert, Luka is a smart, friendly and talented young man with many diverse interests. He has a keen interest in science, participating in the Vancouver Island Regional Science Dair fot the past three years as well as competing in this year’s “Let’s Talk Science Challenge”. Luka is an active member of Debate Club and he is a gifted drummer in the school’s Jazz Band. He is also a very strong athlete who has played on all of the school teams.

Luka was also nominated for a YES Award by the artistic director of the Victoria Children’s Choir, Madeliene Humer. Ms. Humer says Luka joined her organization in September 2016, and sang in the middle level Recital Choir for two years. His musical talent and attitude towards his commitment to the choir and the musical education was always excellent. In February-March 2018 he was chosen as one of the 10 choristers to sing in the Pacific Opera Victoria production of La Bohème, and along with all those choristers, he performed at the professional level expected by the opera directors.

This past year Luka auditioned for and was accepted into the top level Concert Choir. This choir is regularly invited to perform with many professional ensembles including the Victoria Symphony, the Canadian Tenors and the Pacific Baroque Festival, and in official community events such as the Final Stage Ceremony for the Cops For Cancer Tour de Rock, the Remembrance Day events at the Royal BC Museum, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Candlelight Ceremony. This year the choir was also accepted into the highest professional level workshops and performances with the Walt Disney Entertainment Company, and Luka completely understood the responsibilities that come with representing the VCC organization to an outstanding degree on the tour.

Luka is a very talented singer and musician, and he is developing leadership skills, and understands his responsibility to arrive at rehearsals with the challenging repertoire prepared, and also knows how to support other singers in the choir who are experiencing difficulties. He is a loyal and good friend to all the choristers, and Ms. Humer foresees a promising future for this intelligent and engaging young man.

Margot Wehrle – Grade 6 – Monterey Middle School

Last – but certainly not least, is the youngest recipient of this year’s YES Awards, Margot Wehrle.

When one first sees 11-year-old Maggie skating around the ice or swimming with her friends, one might smile and think, “There’s a typical kid having fun.” If you are lucky enough to see her bring a character to life on stage in a school drama production you’d start to think, “Hey, that girl has talent.” Apparently Hollywood director Francis Lawrence of The Hunger Games fame thinks so too.

But when you discover that Maggie has won national prizes for writing and has finished in the top 10 in North America for the last five years for her ability to read and write, then you might start to realize that there is a lot to see in this girl – especially when you consider that Maggie herself can’t see at all.

In spite of being completely blind, Maggie skates, swims and, yes, even plays dodgeball. She is an active member of the band and, outside of school, plays the violin. On stage, Maggie is an accomplished actor and she recently appeared in an episode of an upcoming Apple TV series directed by well-known Hollywood director Francis Lawrence.

Academically, Maggie is an outstanding student who always strives for excellence and whose abilities have resulted in a Gifted designation.

As impressive as all of this is, it is her ability to read and write in braille which has really garnered international attention for this Grade 6 student. For the past five years Maggie has represented Canada in her age group in international competition for braille users and she has not only consistently finished in the top 10, but her braille compositions have also won prizes for their creativity.

Mr. Barnes – who nominated Maggie for this award – has been a teacher of gifted and talented students and has 35 years of experience. While he has worked with many wonderful young people, he says teaching Maggie is not only a joy, but he finds himself inspired by this fearless, and fiercely independent young woman who, despite the fact that she barely comes up to his shoulder, he feels she is someone that many of us can look up to.

And what does Maggie herself think of all the things she does? Mr. Barnes thinks that is best summed up with a conversation he had with her at the very start of the school year. As her teacher he was concerned about how he could meet the needs of this blind student in a class full of sighted peers and so he asked her what it was that she needed the most. Without a second thought Maggie turned to him and said, “I just need you to treat me like any other kid, Mr. Barnes.”

Well, in spite of her request, Mr. Barnes and the YES Award committee think Maggie is someone extremely special. If ever a young person was tailor made for the YES Awards, an award that recognizes accomplishments in academics and the arts while overcoming obstacles, that young person is absolutely Miss Maggie Wehrle.

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Grade 12 student Michael Barber from Oak Bay High School is presented with his YES Award by Julie Potter, Community and Government Relations, UVic. (Keri Coles/News staff)
Grade 7 student Luka Hurschler of Christ Church Cathedral School is presented with his YES Award by Wendy Townsend of Rotary Club of Oak Bay. (Keri Coles/News staff)
Grade 6 student Margot Wehrle of Monterey Middle School is presented with her YES Award by Coun. Hazel Braithwaite. (Keri Coles/News staff)
11 exceptional youth were honoured at the 2019 YES Awards on April 30 at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. (Keri Coles/News staff)
Presenters stand with the 11 exceptional youth honoured at the 2019 YES Awards on April 30 at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. (Keri Coles/News staff)
Grade 8 student Ryan Killoran from St. Michaels University School is presented with his YES Award by MLA Andrew Weaver. (Keri Coles/News staff)
Grade 7 student Matthew Hinton from Monterey Middle School is presented with his YES Award by Oak Bay mayor Kevin Murdoch. (Keri Coles/News staff)
Grade 11 student Jessica Soule from Glenlyon Norfolk School is presented with her YES Award by Joan Trumble of Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay. (Keri Coles/News staff)
Grade 8 student Lauren Rust from Monterey Middle School is presented with her YES Award by Shelley de Hoog, marketing manager for Carlton House of Oak Bay. (Keri Coles/News staff)
Grade 10 student MacKenzie Porter of Oak Bay High School is presented with her YES Award by Audrey MacFarlane of Edward Jones. (Keri Coles/News staff)
Grade 8 student Jessie Hutcheson of Monterey Middle School is presented with their YES Award by Heather Herr of Coast Capital Savings. (Keri Coles/News staff)
Nami Dupain accepts a YES Award on behalf of her sister Sola Dupain who was out of town. Sola is a Grade 10 student at Ecole Victor-Brodeur. Coun. Andrew Appleton presented the award on behalf of Oak Bay Pharmasave. (Keri Coles/News staff)
Grade 8 student Griffin Arnatt from Monterey Middle School is presented with his YES Award by Martin Cownden, president of Oak Bay Village Business Community. (Keri Coles/News staff)