Elizabeth Duncan and Rebecca Hass in The Life Inside at the Belfry Theatre.

Elizabeth Duncan and Rebecca Hass in The Life Inside at the Belfry Theatre.

Oak Bay teen sets the stage for Harvard

Prioritizing studies over stage reaps major reward

Elizabeth Duncan will hone a keen interest in Humanties at Harvard this fall after cultivating a broad, and rewarding, knowledge base in her final two years of high school.

The Oak Bay teen is a familiar face to the local theatre set, starting with a couple of ballet productions, the Nutcracker and Alice in Wonderland, as a youngster.

“That started an interest in being on stage,” the 17-year-old said. Then she tagged along with a friend to audition for Beauty and the Beast with the Victoria Operatic Society at age eight.

“I ended up with the part,” Duncan said. “When I was 12, I started doing professional theatre.”

Her stage career is marked by a pair of new musicals at the Belfry – Let Me Call You Sweetheart in 2013 and The Life Inside in 2010 – and the Blue Bridge 2013 production Brighton Beach Memoirs.

The last couple of years however, she’s been absent from the stage. She took a break, going from five productions in her Grade 10 year to enrolling in the International Baccalaureate program at Glenlyon Norfolk School in Grade 11

“It’s very intense, so unfortunately that meant cutting back on theatre,” she said.

The IB program consists of three university level curriculum courses and three standard courses: theory of knowledge; Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) hours and an independent research project that entails a 4,000-word essay.

She started the course with the goal of attending an elite U.S. university. She’d applied to a few that “had a really good combination of smaller size and top faculty and academics,” she said.

“I knew I had to take one of the more rigorous programs my school offered,” she said. “I’m happy I did it. You feel you’ve really accomplished something.”

That feeling set in as she wrapped 15 exams over two weeks in May, some nearly three hours long.

“In a day you could be writing five yours of exams with an hour break,” she said. “It felt so good the last day.”

She leaves mid-August for Harvard, a school that had already accepted her when she logged on to find out her IB scores this summer. The scoring in each section is marked one to seven with three possible extra points, making a top score of 45.

“It’s really nerve-wracking,” she said of the moments logging in and scrolling through her grades.

Sevens kept appearing.

“At first I really thought it was a mistake,” she said.

There were no errors. The Oak Bay teen is among five students across Canada to achieve a perfect score of 45 on the IB exams this year. The recent Glenlyon Norfolk School grad is among the 45 students worldwide to score 100 per cent from more than 140,000 students worldwide who wrote the exams.

Despite the studying and tedious exam schedule she’s happy she pursued the IB program.

“It’s good way to make sure you have a good breadth of studies going on,” she said.

She plans to maintain that variety of studies during her first year of university.

 

When she visited Harvard campus the week after learning of her acceptance, Duncan found it “vibrant and friendly,” she said. “There was a lot of life there and a lot of good things going on.”

 

 

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure closes Oak Bay pub, restaurant

Penny Farthing, Vis-a-Vis expected to reopen Wednesday after deep clean

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Saturday announced a COVID-19 exposure at Oak Bay High School. (Black Press Media File).
Oak Bay High School subject of COVID-19 exposure

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) said possible exposure happened June 9-10

HMCS Corner Brook returned to Victoria’s waters for the first time since 2015 on June 10. (Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy)
WATCH: Navy surveillance submarine returning to Victoria waters

HMCS Corner Brook one of first submarines to receive new communications systems

Victoria police officers used less-lethal weapons to arrest a woman Sunday night after she allegedly attacked a man with a hammer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police use less-lethal weapons on woman following hammer attack

Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team called to barricade situation

Victoria police are looking for Delmer Esau who was last seen in Esquimalt June 1. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: Search continues for man last seen in Esquimalt

Delmer Esau, 35, hasn’t been seen since June 1

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Most Read