Volume 12 Week 5

Tuesday, Jan. 21


Posted Jan. 10

Posted Jan. 9

Posted Jan. 7


Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney




(Posted 12 p.m., July 18)
East end trio finish at the top of their class

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Samantha Stanzel and Milad Hamwi earned the top graduating marks at St. Peter High School and St. Matthew High School respectively. Stanzel registered a 97.1 per cent average, while Hamwi scored a 96.7. Photos supplied

Samantha Stanzel, Milad Hamwi and Jan Kurman all share one thing in common; they all finished at the top of their graduating class at their respective high schools, and they all plan to further their education at the University of Ottawa.

Stanzel plans to major in chemical engineering after earning a 97.1 per cent average at St. Peter High School. Of the three top grads, she was able to maintain the busiest schedule in her final year.

Besides competing on the school's ultimate frisbee and badminton teams, she was a member of the student and athletic councils, she was a peer mentor, and she tutored French. Oh yeah, she also managed to hold down a part-time job at Booster Juice.

It's not surprising then that Stanzel feels that maintaining a proper balance between academics and extracurricular activities, was the key to her success as a student.

"There was never a question of fitting everything in. I've been involved in different things ever since I started at St. Petes in Grade 7, so there was no sense stopping in Grade 12" says Stanzel. "There was never a question of trying to get the highest mark and nothing else. I wanted to enjoy the full high school experience, especially in my last year."

Hamwi was also highly involved in other activities both at school and at his church. The St. Matthew grad earned a 97.6 per cent average, including a perfect 100 per cent in physics, while also spending time as a peer councillor and being highly involved with his church especially during Lent.

The 18-year-old will be studying bio-medical science at the University of Ottawa, with the goal of becoming an optometrist.

"My grandmother told me I could become any type of doctor I wanted to be, just pick one, so I picked optometry," says Hamwi. "I don't like needles and I don't like blood very much, so I decided to take optometry. There's a certain level of interaction I enjoy and there's no blood."

Hamwi credits his academic success at St. Matthew to the relationships he was able to build with his teachers as well as proper time management.

"I was fortunate to have some amazing teachers and I took a real interest in the subject material. I find that if I take an interest in a subject I absorb it a lot more," says Hamwi, who studied up to four hours a day.

Stanzel also credits having a close relationship with her teachers for doing well academically, especially in English, a course which she had been struggling at until she had Cristina Crochetiere as a teacher in Grade 11 and 12.

"She really made a difference. I started to enjoy it a lot more, especially this past year," says Stanzel who also credits tutoring French for helping improve her mark in that subject. "It helped in that it forced me to really apply myself in the subject and use what I had learned."

Jan Kurman earned the Governor-General's medallion at Lester B. Pearson High School for achieving a 91.3 per cent average. He will be attending the University of Ottawa this fall to study geology.

"When I was in Grade 9, I read a really interesting book that really got me interested in geology and it's stuck with me ever since," says Kurman.

Both Stanzel and Hamwi have earned a University of Ottawa admission scholarship of $4,000 per year for achieving an average over 95 per cent, and Stanzel also picked up a one-time scholarship of $5,000. Kurman will be receiving a $3,000 per year admission scholarship for achieving an average between 90 and 95 per cent.

All three top grads agree that one of the keys to earning a top mark is to take an interest in the courses you're taking even if it may not be your favourite subjects.

"You will absorb a lot more if you are interested in the material than if you aren't. If you find it boring you won't absorb it as much and it will be a lot more difficult," says Hamwi.

Stanzel agrees with Hamwi and insists that maintaining a good balance between academics and other activities is also important.

"My advice to other students is to make sure to take courses they actually like, to take it easy, and to try and enjoy it. And get involved in other school activities, that way academics isn't the only thing on your mind 100 per cent of the time," says Stanzel.

With their high school careers now behind them, all three top grads say they are looking forward to the next chapter of their young lives.

"I'm very excited. It will be nice to turn a new leaf and start something new," says Stanzel.

(NB This story only includes the top students at the east end's three Catholic board high schools. The intent was to include the top students at the public board schools as well but the current work-to-rule campaign prevented doing so.)


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