Oak Bay youth celebrated for success

YES awards honour both large achievements and small kindnesses

Patricia Horwood recieves her Young Exceptional Star award from Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong at the awards ceremony held on May 2 at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre’s Sports View Lounge.

Patricia Horwood recieves her Young Exceptional Star award from Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong at the awards ceremony held on May 2 at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre’s Sports View Lounge.

Twelve Oak Bay students were celebrated for their achievements at the Young Exceptional Star awards held at Oak Bay Recreation Centre’s Sports View Lounge May 2.

Students, in Grades 6 to 10, from Lansdowne Middle School, Monterey Middle School, and Oak Bay High, received awards for a wide range of accomplishments, ranging from academic to athletic, and personal successes.

“They’re described as these sunny, happy kids that bring a lot of light and happiness to their friends in the classroom, and are real leaders,” said Coun. Michelle Kirby, chair of the Oak Bay Child and Youth Committee. “The leaders of tomorrow. (And) really leaders within their classes and within the school.”

The type of accomplishments recognized included student actions that may not always get noticed, according to Kirby. Some of the students acknowledged were nominated for gestures they’ve made that were noticed by their teachers, she added.

“There’s some kids that just make an effort to go out of their way to include kids that might not be included, (kids) that have social or other challenges,” Kirby said. “Sometimes things like that happen and nobody notices, but in this case, because of the YES awards, teachers are on the lookout for that kind of thing.”

Reading through all the nominees’ stories beforehand, Kirby said she was shocked by all the accomplishments these students have made in their lives.

One of the students Kirby was inspired by is 12-year-old Rachell Morton.

Morton, a visually impaired student at Monterey Middle School, was celebrated for her academic success, focus, and drive, Kirby said.

“She’s got those extra challenges of not being able to read what the teacher’s writing on the board and yet she’s still doing very well academically,” Kirby said of Morton.

This year’s ceremony also included a keynote speech from Logan Graham, a previous YES award winner, who also hosted the event.

Graham, now 17 and fresh from finishing his first year of university, won an award four years ago when he was new to the community. He spoke about how important winning the award was to him, Kirby said.

“(It) gave us all a chance to see where all these kids go. When they’re recognized at 13 for their accomplishments, they end up truly being leaders, and he was such a good example of that,” Kirby said.

“It makes you feel good that these kids are doing so well and it’s fun to celebrate their successes. We don’t get to do that often enough.”

The 2012 YES awards recipients are Amy Antonsen, Rio Davison, Nicholas Downer, Patricia Horwood, Peter Kachan, Heather Korvemaker, Gavin Dratz, Morton, Mackenzie Rampton, Sophia Seemann and  Blake Smith-Daniels, Quinn Tustanoff.