Today I had the privilege of attending the 9th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (Y.E.S) awards ceremony at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre where 12 exceptionally talented youth in grades 6 to 10 were honoured for their achievements.
As noted by the YES Awards Committee, Chaired by Hazel Braithwaite, that administers the awards, “The goal of the awards is to emphasize the positive achievements of Oak Bay’s young people by recognizing those who have distinguished themselves in such areas as volunteerism, arts, citizenship, academics, athletics and/or who have overcome obstacles to achieve their goals.”
Congratulations to this year’s award winners: Cara Butler, Vanilia Chotou, Kaden Cortini, Annabelle Fieltsch, Rose Hanneson-Schwenger, Rebecca Hartley, Sidney Hurst, Jasmine Lambert, Aiden Leibel, Nicole Quast, Elmer Thomas and Jack Walmsley.
I had the pleasure of presenting the award to Cara Butler. Below is the text of my speech.
In the words of her nominator, Nichelle Soetaert, Cara Butler is an outstanding young woman – driven, kind, diligent, reliable, creative and dedicated to all of her endeavours. She inspires her peers to become more engaged in the community and consistently emerges as a leader both inside and outside of the classroom. Her teachers consider it a genuine pleasure to have her in class, her peers seek her out for advice and guidance, and the influence of her generosity and dedication is felt from the Oak Bay Community all the way to Vicente Guerrero, Mexico.
Cara’s academic prowess is extremely impressive and she achieved at or above 93% in each of her 8 classes. She also competes with the senior field hockey team, has achieved a provincial level competing in track and field and is a leader on the junior girls’ Oak Bay soccer team. You would imagine that maintaining grades above 90% would be no easy feat with all of these things on her plate, yet Cara continues to excel academically and in all others areas of her busy life.
As a grade ten student, Cara has become deeply ensconced in the Oak Bay Community. She was involved in two major events that took place through Oak Bay High this year. The first of these events is very close to the heart of the school – Cops for Cancer. Cara worked tirelessly during her summer and throughout the month of September to organize fundraisers and to plan the arrival of the Tour de Rock participants at the school. At every event, she wore a smile and encouraged others to be engaged in the process, leading by example.
Another important achievement for Cara this year is her involvement in the Live Different program. Every second year, a group of 36 Oak Bay students travel to Vicente Guerrero, Mexico to build a home for a deserving family in a very impoverished area. The dedication and commitment required by this program is intensive, including a year and a half of preparation. Cara was committed from the first moment, working hard to raise money for the “Jail or Bail” event, spending countless hours preparing for the dance, and building new connections with all group members. During the trip, she was always actively involved. She helped others understand and cope with intense emotions (while certainly experiencing those same emotions herself), and was able to connect with the larger world at a very deep level.
Cara really embodies all of the attributes of a Young Exceptional Star not only in her school, but in her community too and it gives me great pleasure to present her with an award this year.