Katelyn Wills, Gavin Hickey, Julia Hanlon Xuan Pham, Joyce Chabaan and Alexander Tessier all have one thing in common – they are this year’s recipients of the Governor General’s Academic Medal for achieving the top overall average in the graduating class at their respective schools.
Julia Hanlon earned a 97.2 per cent average at St. Peter High School, while Gavin Hickey and Katelyn Wills tied for the top mark at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School with a 95.8 per cent average, the same average earned by Alexandre Tessier at St. Matthew High School.
Because of a condensed schedule, Cairine Wilson Secondary School was unable to provide the final averages of Xuan Pham and Joyce Chabaan, before our printing deadline, although they are so close that too may end in a tie which means they will both receive the Governor-General’s Academic Medal.
Besides achieving the top overall average at their respective schools, all six medal recipients also had one other thing in common – they all did their best to balance their academic studies with outside interests.
Katelyn Wills was a member of Sir Wil’s varsity soccer, ultimate frisbee and senior girls volleyball teams. She also played in the school band and worked part time.
Before the school year started. Wills was determined to balance her love of sports with studying.
“Since it was my last year, I really wanted to make sure I still had a social life with all the studying,” says Wills, who has enrolled in the biological, bio-medical and life science progam at McGill University starting this fall.
Asked if she had any advice for future aspiring Governor-General’s Academic Medal recipients, Wills best piece of advice was to make sure that your schedule is as balanced as possible.
“If you only focus on academics, you will end up burning yourself out,” opined Wills.
Sir Wil’s co-Governor-General’s medal recipient Gavin Hickey was also to maintain a balanced schedule this past year, combining academics with his duties as co-student council president, coaching the junior boys soccer team and mentoring Grade 9 students as a member of the school’s LINK club.
“My main goal was to make a difference in my school,” says Hickey who accumulated over 600 volunteer hours in his four years at Sir Will.
Hickey plans to attend Nipissing University in the fall where he will be studying the physical education program and working towards a Bachelor of Education degree.
This year’s graduating class is the first to have uninterrupted in-school learning for the whole school year since before the pandemic. It is also the first time they have been able to have a prom together.
That distinction has not been lost on any of this year’s top students including St. Peter High School’s Julia Hanlon, whose older brother was unable to get the same opportunity two years ago because of the COVID restrictions.
“I feel very lucky and very grateful. I’m sure all of us do,” says Hanlon, who be going to Carleton University next year to study software engineering.
Xuan Pham and Joyce Chaaban are not just co-top students at Cairine Wilson Secondary School, they are also close friends
Like many of her fellow top students, Xuan made sure she got the most out of her last year of high school. She was a member of several of the school’s clubs and she was the editor of the school paper.
“I went into Grade 12 with the goal of having as many friends as possible. I wanted life to mean more than just school and not get sucked into just studying all the time and having no social life,” says Pham who has enrolled at the University of Ottawa to study software engineering.
Unlike many of her fellow top students, Joyce Chaaban’s singular goal was to get the highest marks possible, so she could pursue a career in medicine. Her ulti-mate goal is to becomes a pediatrician.
“I really love children,” says Chaaban who spends her summers as a camp counselor and a part-time birthday party host.