YES Awards: Kindness, leadership, work ethic of Oak Bay youth under spotlight

(Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)(Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Kate Andrews receives the YES Award from presenter Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Kate Andrews receives the YES Award from presenter Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Aiden Fitzgerald receives the YES Award from presenter Heather Leary of the Oak Bay Village business community. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Aiden Fitzgerald receives the YES Award from presenter Heather Leary of the Oak Bay Village business community. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Liv Fraser receives the YES Award from presenter Audrey MacFarlane of Edward Jones. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Liv Fraser receives the YES Award from presenter Audrey MacFarlane of Edward Jones. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Colleen McKee receives the YES Award from presenter Jacqueline Prewett, manager of digital marketing for Carlton House of Oak Bay. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Colleen McKee receives the YES Award from presenter Jacqueline Prewett, manager of digital marketing for Carlton House of Oak Bay. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Claire Mount receives the YES Award from presenter Joan Trumble of the Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Claire Mount receives the YES Award from presenter Joan Trumble of the Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Kai Lawrence receives the YES Award from presenter Peter (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Kai Lawrence receives the YES Award from presenter Peter (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Asher Heringblum receives the YES Award from presenter Shauna Corkery, assistant manager Coast Capital Savings. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Asher Heringblum receives the YES Award from presenter Shauna Corkery, assistant manager Coast Capital Savings. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Max Zolbrod receives the YES Award from presenter Oak Bay Coun. Andrew Appleton on behalf of MLA Murray Rankin. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Max Zolbrod receives the YES Award from presenter Oak Bay Coun. Andrew Appleton on behalf of MLA Murray Rankin. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Teagan Blue receives the YES Award from presenter Coun. Hazel Braithwaite on behalf of Oak Bay Pharmasave. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Teagan Blue receives the YES Award from presenter Coun. Hazel Braithwaite on behalf of Oak Bay Pharmasave. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Ella Hostad receives the YES Award from presenter Fred Cornborough, Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Ella Hostad receives the YES Award from presenter Fred Cornborough, Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Katie Lindsay receives the YES Award from presenter Jennifer Vornbrock, executive director, community and government relations for UVic. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Returning indoors this year to the David Foster Foundation Theatre at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, 11 young people earned accolades during Oak Bay’s 15th annual Young Exceptional Star (YES) Awards on May 31. Here are the YES Award winners for 2022:

Kate Andrews

Grade 12, Oak Bay High

Teacher Tina Horwood has known Kate Andrews for 12 years through her involvement in Island Ukuleles, where Horwood is music director, and as a teacher at Oak Bay High. Kate has been involved in nine choral and vocal jazz ensembles and is on the school ski team.

Kate is one of the most dedicated students she’s ever taught, whose confidence has grown immensely throughout high school. She sings in senior concert choir, but her talent easily earned her a space in the top two auditioned choirs. Last June, Kate received a Forte Award – recognizing an outstanding contribution to the choral music program.

Kate has also spent countless hours volunteering as a teacher assistant.

Kate loves to build community and has a selfless heart of service that is evident in everything she does. Her display of empathy helps strengthen the school’s choir community as she models a positive inclusive classroom culture. Over the years Kate has voluntarily taught Little Ukers, Island Ukuleles’ kindergarten through Grade 3 program. She has a great deal of patience and always uses positive encouragement when working with students who are struggling to learn new skills.

Kate has maintained a 4.0 grade average, earning her an honour roll with distinction status throughout high school –the top scholastic honour given at Oak Bay. She was also awarded the Sidney Miller Award for making the greatest contribution to the life of the choral program in service and citizenship.

Horwood is sure that Kate will continue to enrich the lives of those she is in contact with, and will be an outstanding credit to Dalhousie University where she will attend in the fall.

Max Zolbrod

Grade 11, Oak Bay High

Max Zolbrod is a young man who Jeff Weaver, director of bands and jazz studies, believes would be an excellent recipient of a YES Award. He has known Max and his family for many years through school and the community.

Max participates in band and choir, receives top marks for academics and volunteers in many capacities, he also holds a part-time job.

Weaver’s first impression of Max in Grade 9 was profound. The band was without a tuba player and when he asked if anyone would be interested Max said “Well, if it will help out our band I will do it.” That attitude has run deep throughout his time at Oak Bay and is a testament to his personality.

Max has top marks in every class and takes his academics seriously. This is no small feat when you take advanced calculus and all of the sciences.

Max volunteers at school helping with the vocal council to organize events and with the Cops for Cancer fundraiser car wash. As well, Max serves as a teacher’s assistant giving up his class time to help others in math and choir.

Max is also concerned with his environment and being a steward of the land. He volunteers with Blue Moon garden cleanup with friends of Bowker Creek and is part of the Water is Life Program at Oak Bay High working to restore Bowker Creek.

Most students are not capable at doing all of these things, Weaver said. Max does it all with an amazing attitude and smile. He finds the best parts of whatever he is participating in, and leads his group quietly to a positive result.

Ella Hostad

Grade 7, Monterey Middle School

Teacher-librarian, Keely Thornton submitted the nomination for one of Monterey Middle Schools most exceptional Grade 7 students, Ella Hostad, for the YES awards in the category of community leadership.

Thornton said that Ella approached her earlier this school year to ask for help around a topic she is passionate about – fundraising to help those experiencing homelessness in Victoria. While her first idea of a community lunch at Our Place Society was not going to work with the ongoing health restrictions, Ella quickly shifted gears and organized Monterey’s first Comfort Kits Campaign. This was a call to all of the students to bring in essential and comfort items to create Comfort Kits for those experiencing homelessness.

Ella created the list of items that each bag should contain, making sure to focus on health and hygiene (sanitizer, masks, toothpaste, soap etc.) as well as things that would bring some additional comfort (mittens, socks, chocolate, nutrition bars). The list was designed in collaboration with Our Place Society.

Ella made a short presentation to the Grade 8 Spirit Council and helped them talk with all of the classes in the school about bringing in items for the Comfort Kits. She helped craft letters home to parents and designed posters. She visited classes that needed more encouragement throughout the campaign and did announcements keeping people interested and excited. Time after time, she put aside her fear of speaking in public, and even spoke to the press about the campaign. In the end, the group stuffed over 140 bags and delivered them to Our Place Society, who were overwhelmed with the support.

Liv Fraser

Grade 9, Oak Bay High

Leadership teacher and student council sponsor Corrina Simpson put forward Liv Fraser for the Young Exceptional Star Award. She said it was her pleasure, as Liv is a truly an exceptional Grade 9 student at Oak Bay High. She goes on to say that since she has known Liv, she has impressed with her leadership, kindness, confidence, and poise.

As the first Grade 9 group leader in the history of Oak Bay High’s Community Leadership class, Liv consistently demonstrates kindness, care, thoughtfulness, and empathy to all whom work with her. Being the first Grade 9 group leader is a huge accomplishment and no student could be more deserving. Not only is she extremely organized, mature, and responsible, but she is also inclusive of all, and works to make the experience positive for her classmates. As a group leader, Liv has shown herself to be one who takes initiative and ensures the assigned tasks have been completed to the highest degree of quality. Furthermore, Liv maintains excellent grades in all her classes.

Liv’s leadership extends beyond the classroom. She’s also a passionate soccer player, captain of her team and has been recognized and awarded for her sportsmanship. Liv plays on a number of teams throughout the year, and though she has been goalkeeper since she was nine, she continues to work hard to improve her skills and encourage others. Liv’s hard work, leadership, and compassion are respected and admired by players and coaches alike.

Balancing all of these things and her work in the community is no easy task, but Liv takes it all on with positivity, energy and grace.

Asher Heringblum

Grade 6, Monterey Middle School

Music teacher Paul Beauchesne has worked with close to 200 students, seeing countless struggles, successes, and failures over the last nine months. The achievements of many dedicated students come to mind when he thinks back over the course of the year.

Asher Heringblum has demonstrated a sophisticated musical ability since the start of the year. They have also shown a persistent desire to expand their skills on the violin, which they play in the Senior String Ensemble along with mostly Grade 7 and 8 students. In addition to violin, Asher is learning trombone and is at the top of the class in achieving the required proficiencies and beyond.

Asher has been volunteering to learn the double bass in Junior Strings class, and has been in the music room practicing during almost every morning nutrition break since the start of the school year.

During these recess sessions, they are not only working at improving their abilities but will always offer to work with anyone else there to practice; working together or demonstrating to help others achieve success with patience, generosity and kindness.

Asher has a strong desire to learn how to make music on any instrument they can get their hands on and lately has been spending time on the drum set as well as the electric bass and the electric guitar. One gets the distinct impression that allowed, they would spend the entirety of every day in the music room.

Beauchesne is quite confident that Asher will continue to get as much as they possibly can out of the music program at Monterey and take advantage of every opportunity they are given as they progress through high school.Claire Mount

Grade 11, Oak Bay High

Claire Mount demonstrates excellence in all her endeavors, whether in academics, athletics, community volunteering, fine arts or personal interests. Even though she is involved in many extracurricular activities, she has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her time at Oak Bay High.

Nominator teacher Tina Horwood said Claire has a strong work ethic and phenomenal time management skills. Her ability to maintain her studies while participating in numerous athletics and fine arts, while also volunteering in the school and in the community is exceptional. Horwood said Claire is one of the most talented and dedicated students she’s ever taught.

Claire is actively involved in all aspects of the Oak Bay Fine Arts program and it with humility, determination and an incredibly strong work ethic. She has participated in choir, band, dance, and the senior musical. She has shown unusually high standards of citizenship and conduct, and a willingness to accept responsibility far beyond that normally expected of students.

Claire is also a strong and versatile athlete, participating in many athletics at a high-level including fastball, soccer, cross country running and track to name a few. Claire volunteers to coach and mentor a younger girls’ softball team. She has an innate ability to connect with people and genuinely cares for their overall well-being.

Claire also joined the school ski team this year. She works hard to maintain a positive attitude whether she is on stage, on the field or at a ski team practice. She pushes herself to do better every day, giving her a drive to accomplish anything she sets her mind to.

Katie Lindsay

Grade 8, Lansdowne Middle School

Teacher Michelle Couture put forward the nomination for Katie Lindsay for a YES Award. Katie is a Grade 8 French Immersion student with a gifted designation. Katie was in Couture’s Grade 6 class and she now teaches her PE. In her opinion, Katie is an excellent candidate.

Firstly, Katie is an inclusive and motivated learner who excels in academic subjects. She consistently exceeds expectations in all areas, and pushes herself to go beyond what is required. She is also a talented researcher and writer and has superior numeracy skills. For example, this year she is completing Maths 9, for which she will get credit through a year-end final exam offered online by Oak Bay High.

Katie is also an incredible athlete. She participates in a number of sports outside of school but is also a key team player for the Lansdowne Flyers. This year she played not only basketball, but also volleyball for Lansdowne. She is not only an incredibly strong athlete but also a confident leader with strong sportsmanship skills. These are strengths that will bode her well throughout her school years and her life.

This year, Katie has also shown leadership skills through an initiative organized and carried out by herself and a few friends to run a sock drive at Lansdowne North in the late fall which supported vulnerable people in the community. Thinking of others and turning that into something tangible is a wonderful skill. We know that the recipients of this initiative would have been so thankful for the thoughtfulness of Katie and her friends.

Katie really does exemplify the qualities and skill set, in academics, citizenship and athletics the YES committee is looking to recognize.

Kai Lawrence,

Grade 7, Lansdowne Middle School

As soon as she saw the email about the YES awards, teacher Michelle Couture thought of Kai. First and foremost, Kai is an amazing human being. He exemplifies kindness, inclusiveness and empathy and contributes to a positive learning environment where peers feel safe to be themselves.

When Kai started Grade 6, he was excited to be part of a Me to We club so he could engage with initiatives of giving back to the community and support those in need in developing countries. Within the school he is also always willing to help out in small ways. For example, he is always one of the students who helps set up and take down equipment in the gym.

The second reason Couture gave is his achievement in academics, athletics and the arts. Kai is an engaged learner who perseveres when learning is challenging, and who endeavors to excel in all academic areas. This year he was one of the Grade 8 team’s best volleyball players, not only because he has a very high skill level but also because he is a leader in terms of sportsmanship and attitude.

Recently Kai won the city championship for badminton. He is always a key contributor to his team’s success no matter what the activity and he also takes risks by trying new things. When the school did a dance unit, he challenged himself to learn a choreographed dance with two classmates.

Kai is also an accomplished musician, involved in singing outside of school with the Victoria Children’s Choir. At school he is in band and plays piano.

Couture feels Kai exemplifies not only the skill set but also the attributes of what the YES Award committee is endeavoring to celebrate – inclusion, kindness, empathy, and leadership.

Colleen McKee

Grade 12, Oak Bay High

Teacher Jeff Weaver said it is his great pleasure to nominate Colleen McKee for a YES award. Colleen is a Grade 12 student who participates in band, choir, musical, dance, ski team, field hockey, soccer, sailing ultimate frisbee and holds a part time job.

Weaver has known Colleen and her family for more than six years. He says that after the loss of her father a few years back Colleen has shown to be an extraordinary young woman who is a leader, mentor and positive role model at school and in the community.

As a student, Colleen is a wonderful leader. Recently the dance teacher took a leave of absence and Colleen stepped up to help fill the instructor role. She also produced the school’s Evening of Dance show as well as choreographing dance for the marching band. No one asked her to help – she saw a need and volunteered.

She led the dance crew in the Oak Bay Tea Party with no adult instructor and took care of choreography, scheduling, uniforms and a practice schedule.

She also led the Cops for Cancer campaign this year. Organizing a giant group of people and many events. She contributed to raising more than $40,000. To show her commitment she has raised thousands of dollars personally and shaved her head twice.

Colleen is known by everyone at the school for her amazing attitude and ability to listen. This keen skill sets her apart. Her ability to be empathetic, offer advice and listen is a rare find in students.

Weaver says her innate ability to unite, listen and be a positive role model are second to none and make her a great candidate for a YES award.

Aiden Fitzgerald

Grade 8, Monterey Middle School

With admiration and respect teacher Daniel Mallet nominated Aiden Fitzgerald in the areas of athletics, academics and the arts.

Anyone who meets Aiden is immediately drawn to his cheerful outlook, kind demeanour, unflappable personality, and amazing sense of humour.

Academically, Aiden has been a straight A student since walking into Mallet’s classroom. He is the type of student that teachers want in their class, as he is flexible, willing to work with any student, and always lends a helping hand when he needs to. Aiden is a willing contributor to class discussions, always gets his work done on time and is recommend as the perfect addition for anybody’s trivia team.

His creativity has shone brightly as the year has progressed. From designing a “Dr. Fitzgerald’s Chicken Noodle Soup Natural Remedy” infomercial, to creating an “Intimidating Jim’s Cool Giraffes” podcast that featured special guest Dr. Mark Greg Cashregister, Aiden has a knack for creativity.

Artistically, outside of the classroom, Aiden is an active member of the Monterey Music Program. He participates in choir, jazz band, and concert band. He is also actively engaged in playing the guitar and furthering his love of music when not at school.

This year, Aiden fell in love with volleyball, and was an active contributor to the Monterey senior boys team. As it stands, Aiden uses every moment of break time he gets at school to master his setting skills on the basketball court. Aiden grabs a volleyball and tries to set the volleyball into the hoop. This is a testament to the level of time, dedication, and effort that Aiden puts into all aspects of his well-rounded life.

In one discussion Aiden, he mentioned he would like to go to the Olympics in volleyball. Mallet feels if Aiden continues to dedicate himself to his studies, hobbies and athletics, he has no doubt we will see Aiden representing Canada.

Teagan Anne Blue

Grade 12, Oak Bay High

Teagan Anne Blue was nominated by teacher Josephine Pere who has known Teagan for 8.5 years and has watched her grow into a responsible, capable young adult.

Since Pere has known Teagan, she has taken on responsibilities to connect to her community and gain valuable skills.

Teagan delivered the Oak Bay News for four years and later started working at Nohra in Estevan Village as a hostess and busser. During the pandemic she began working at the Old Farm Market, in the produce department. Teagan can periodically be found volunteering at Seedlings Daycare, her family’s daycare and preschool.

An avid equestrian rider for the past 11 years, for many summers she has volunteered helping local riding camps, to share her love of horses with younger aspiring riders.

Teagan spends most of her time rowing in the Performance Program at Victoria City Rowing Club at Elk Lake. She began her rowing career on the school rowing team in Grade 9. Four years later, Teagan is an elite athlete and member of the Next Gen Rower Program for Team BC. She spends a minimum of 27 hours a week training, determined to represent Canada in the Junior World Championships this summer in Italy. One of Teagan’s biggest goals is to represent Canada in the 2025 Summer Olympics.

Academically, Teagan is a thriving French Immersion student about to graduate with a 3.8 GPA. She graduates this year with a double Dogwood – French Immersion students can earn both a British Columbia Certificate of Graduation and a Diplôme de fin d’études secondaires en Colombie-Britannique – and is set to study at the University of Massachusetts.

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