YES Awards: These Oak Bay kids are doing amazing things

YES Awards: These Oak Bay kids are doing amazing things

Each year the District of Oak Bay recognizes the accomplishments of youth who live or attend school in Oak Bay and have overcome obstacles to achieve goals. A panel selects a handful of Young Exceptional Star Awards.

RELATED: Oak Bay awards honour students for athletics, academics and beyond

Held in the David Foster Foundation Theatre at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, 11 young people earned accolades during Oak Bay’s annual Young Exceptional Star (YES) Awards on Feb. 8.

Here are the YES Award winners for 2024:

Matty Angus (Tanara Oliveira/Black Press Media)

Matty Angus – St. Michaels University School – Grade 10

Matty Angus is an outstanding individual who excels academically, athletically, and in the arts while overcoming significant challenges, says his Mandarin teacher Jennifer Mao.

His commitment to academic excellence is commendable, consistently achieving outstanding results while balancing artistic and athletic pursuits.

He is an enthusiastic learner of Mandarin and Chinese culture, and is a hardworking, respectful student who takes his time understanding concepts. He is always committed to doing his best in all assessments and strives to reach his full potential. In addition, he is a fervent reader in Mandarin and has increased his vocabulary as he is exposed to different texts. He enjoys writing in Mandarin too. In his writing, he chooses words with care and offers constructive suggestions to peers to enhance their work. He also volunteers to assist in classroom activities and provides insightful feedback.

A former representative of the Canadian Junior Kendo team, Matty also earned a provincial championship in the sport.

He has also emerged as a top clarinet player and has been the top player in his age category in the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival for two years in a row, and he is also the top player at the provincial level. After two years of formal learning, he successfully auditioned for the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra in 2022 and 2023, performing with the Victoria Symphony.

Matty has been instrumental in implementing technology and is actively involved in an undergraduate research project, showcasing his commitment to scholarly pursuits. Matty is also conceptualizing a youth camp combining his passion for music and language learning, reflecting his dedication to fostering creativity and education among young minds.

Matty’s journey has not been without challenges, and his resilience in the face of overcoming obstacles is truly admirable, nominator Mao said.

Alyssa Archer – Oak Bay High – Grade 9

Alyssa Archer’s contributions to the community, both in volunteering and extracurricular activities, reflect an outstanding character and commitment to making a positive impact.

Nominator and Community Leadership teacher Corrina Simpson is consistently impressed with Alyssa’s enthusiasm, dedication, leadership and diverse skill set.

At school, Alyssa played a crucial role in preparing and serving breakfasts and hot chocolate for her peers at the annual Polar Bear Swim.

She has served on the SD61 Climate Action adhoc committee; the SD61 Student Symposium and the SD61 Student Anti-Racism Symposium. Her initiative in selecting age-appropriate books and creating a display for Black History Month at Monterey Middle School showcases a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion.

Her involvement in the Monterey intramural volunteer role showed her commitment to fostering a positive environment for younger students.

In the community, Alyssa has volunteered with Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, at St. Barnabas Church and is involved with Girl Guides of Canada.

Always looking for opportunities to learn and grow, Alyssa has obtained Food Safe Level 1, a Babysitters Certificate, and the Girl Guides of Canada Lady Baden Powell Award.

In athletics, she represented Victoria in Field Hockey BC at the club championship for two consecutive years and participated in the Nutcracker Ballet with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Alberta Ballet for three years. She has completed Royal Academy of Dance Exams in Ballet Grades 2, 3, and 4.

She is active in the Christ Church Cathedral choirs.

Alyssa is always the first to volunteer and her friendly demeanour is evident, Simpson said.

Claire Babiuk (Tanara Oliveira/Black Press Media)

Claire Babiuk – Monterey Middle School – Grade 8

Claire Babiuk has distinguished herself as one of the most school-involved, high-achieving students teacher Josh Elsdon has ever worked with. Her dedication to academics, athletics, and service is unparalleled, and her caring, helpful attitude identifies her as a future leader in our community and world, he said.

Since arriving at Monterey, Claire has been deeply involved in a variety of school offerings. She was an instant phenomenon in cross country, winning every race in both 2021 and 2022 en route to consecutive city championships. In that time, she also participated in the club provincial championships, claiming the provincial gold medal in 2021 and silver in 2022.

Claire is an active member of the Monterey spirit council, regularly organizing events and assemblies that help her peers feel a sense of community pride and belonging.

She is also a top soccer player in the province and was selected for the Vancouver Island Wave of the BC High Performance League. This year, Claire was selected to the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy – the highest level possible for players her age in B.C.

In addition to athletics, Claire shows her well-rounded nature through a variety of activities. She is a top student, regularly earning “extending” (the highest possible) assessments from her teachers across the curriculum. Claire is also an accomplished fiddle player, having played many concerts in venues around town.

Claire’s light shines far beyond the achievements, Elsdon said. One needs only to spend time with Claire to recognize the dedication, drive, and joy she exudes every day.

Adelle Bergmann (Tanara Oliveira/Black Press Media)

Adelle Bergmann – Oak Bay High – Grade 10

Adelle Bergemann’s remarkable achievements in basketball, fast pitch and volleyball exemplify her dedication, skill and leadership within the sports community, according to nominator Shawn Boulding, Oak Bay High principal.

Adelle has consistently showcased her talent and commitment in basketball. As a South Vancouver Island Basketball All-Star in 2023 and a member of that First Team Lower Island All-Star team, Adelle’s prowess on the court is undeniable. Her Grade 9 year saw her named as a First Team All-Star at the Island Championships and a Second Team All-Star at the Junior High School Basketball Provincials. In Grade 10, Adelle assumed the role of team captain for the Oak Bay junior girls’ basketball team, where she has proven to be the team’s leading scorer, rebounder, and steals per game player. Her exceptional performance is positioning her for All-Star status at both the Island and Provincial championships, a testament to her skill, leadership, and dedication to excellence.

Adelle’s success extends into the realm of fastpitch. Serving as the starting pitcher for the Carnarvon girls fastball team, she played a pivotal role in the team’s gold medal at last year’s provincial championships. Adelle’s exceptional skills were further recognized when she earned the player of the game distinction in the final.

In volleyball, Adelle has quickly made a name for herself despite being new to the sport. Her athletic abilities and leadership skills have earned recognition both at the school and lower Island levels. Adelle’s natural leadership style, leading by example and exemplifying a strong work ethic, sets her apart as a role model.

Sophie De Launiere (Tanara Oliveira/Black Press Media)

Sophie De Launiere – St. Michael’s University School – Grade 10

Sophie De Launiere has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to community service, showcasing leadership and compassion, said teacher and nominator Jennifer Mao.

From her pivotal role in the SMUS Service Council, where she spearheaded a successful fundraising initiative for Power to Be, to her volunteer work at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, she has showcased a deep sense of responsibility towards making a positive impact. Her ability to balance her time effectively – preparing lessons for sailing camps while managing the needs of the participants – speaks to her organizational skills and dedication to the community.

Sophie is also involved in various sports, including competitive sailing where she achieved gold at the 2022 BC Summer Games. Not only does she thrive in competitive settings, but also embraces the mental challenges of sports, demonstrating resilience and a strong sense of self-motivation.

Sophie possesses a genuine love for the arts, participating in the school musical, strings program, and showcasing her talent in violin, dance, sketching, knitting, felting and cross-stitching.

An enthusiastic learner of Mandarin and Chinese culture, Sophie is a hardworking, respectful student, committed to doing her best in all assessments and strives to reach her full potential. She also volunteers to assist in classroom activities and provides insightful feedback.

She has faced and conquered various obstacles in her academic journey, demonstrating resilience, adaptability, and a proactive approach to challenges. Her ability to seek feedback, learn from setbacks, and maintain a healthy balance in life reflects a mature and thoughtful approach to personal and academic growth, Mao said.

Makaio McKnight (Tanara Oliveira/Black Press Media)

Makaio McKnight – Oak Bay High – Grade 10

Makaio McKnight has set very high standards for himself and strives to always meet them, said teacher and nominator Tina Horwood.

He is an accomplished musician who devotes hours to developing his musical skills in both school and community music programs, participating in musicals, bands, orchestra programs and numerous choirs. As an instrumentalist, he was selected as a member of the Canadian Junior Honour Concert Band in 2022 as a trombonist. Makaio is frequently found performing around the community for public events, as well as in retirement and care homes.

As a vocalist, he is an integral member of the school choral program singing in four concert choirs, a vocal jazz ensemble and two small ensembles. His persistence and talent have earned him spots in the top two audition choirs at Oak Bay High. This year Makaio was one of 17 singers to earn a position in the Provincial Honour Vocal Jazz Choir.

Makaio is also a gifted soloist, regularly featured in various choirs, who also uses his orchestra training to accompany vocal jazz ensembles and combos with his double bass.

As an athlete, Makaio is a member of the Oak Bay High cross country team and is in the top third of runners in B.C. Makaio is also a competitive swimmer who has participated in the BC Summer Games and provincials. In both sports, he demonstrates athletic excellence, commitment and leadership with younger athletes.

Makaio volunteers with Island Ukuleles and regularly volunteers with the Cedar Hill music program as a teacher assistant.

Makaio also maintains close to a 4.0 GPA.

Tor Nelson (Tanara Oliveira/Black Press Media)

Tor Nelson – Christ Church Cathedral School – Grade 8

The criteria for this award highlight the emergence of a young individual as the bedrock of our aspirations for the future, according to teacher James Rhodes, this description perfectly encapsulates the essence of Tor Nelson.

In the academic sphere, Tor has established himself as a dependable, organized, and highly proficient student. Juggling numerous extracurricular activities while maintaining excellence in core subjects is a testament to his organizational skills.

Tor stands out as an exceptionally skilled athlete, consistently excelling at the highest level in every sport he engages in, both within the school and the community.

While not the most outspoken, Tor leads by example. Since Grade 6, Tor has been at the forefront of the middle school teams, earning the respect and reliance of older peers seeking his guidance for success. His leadership extends beyond personal accomplishments; he actively engages with those around him, ensuring their inclusion and success.

He is also skilled at piano and a member of the school’s jazz band, producing some fantastic team performances and personal solo pieces.

Tor is usually the first student approached to help or volunteer for school events because every teacher knows he can be trusted to get the job done in the right way. Every teacher recognizes his selflessness, dedication to helping others, and ability to work constructively with peers, teachers, and parents.

Tor’s contributions to Christ Church Cathedral School and the community at large deserve recognition. Despite his remarkable successes, Tor remains grounded and looks for new challenges that allow him to channel his energy into benefiting others.

Sophie Pathak (Tanara Oliveira/Black Press Media)

Sophie Pathak – Glenlyon Norfolk School – Grade 12

Sophie Pathak is a remarkable scholar, and her integrity and character influence the daily life of the community at Glenlyon Norfolk School, according to teacher and nominator Angela Colibaba.

This deeply insightful academic visibly values the process of learning for the sake of understanding. She is passionate about science, committed to helping others and is always in the pursuit of personal development.

Sophie actively participates in school, the community and the global arena – like at the Round Square International Conference in Oxford, England. She showed patience and leadership coaching Grade 7 girls’ volleyball last year, attending practices twice a week, games once a week and visibly boosting confidence in the players. She is an active member of the school service community and has consistently helped plan an annual bottle for the past three years. Highly organized and committed to action, Sophie initiated several projects and planned the Round Square winter market and is very involved in Model United Nations.

While exceptionally busy with her academics (she has outstanding grades), Sophie volunteers and works at Oak Bay Rec., where she teaches both skating and swimming to children on the weekends. As a coach and teacher, Sophie clearly loves to help others reach their potential. She is furthering her skills as she is completing lifeguard training and has been a great influence to younger people in her role as a camp leader as well.

Colibaba wholeheartedly recommends Sophie for the YES Award for her passion for teaching others, her commitment to bettering the world around her, and for her intelligent and caring leadership.

Mason Pite (Tanara Oliveira/Black Press Media)

Mason Pite – Monterey Middle School – Grade 8

Mason Pite is a rare breed of student, combining academic success, extra-curricular involvement, and citizenship in equal measures, says teacher and nominator Josh Elsdon.

This year, Mason has demonstrated academic skills at the Extending (highest) level in all classes. Mason is the model of a responsible student and has an academic maturity well beyond expectations for his age. Mason’s work consistently shows a deep understanding not only of the concepts taught and expectations of the assignment, but also of the purpose and intent of the work itself. Mason also won academic achievement awards in the last two years.

In addition to his academic acumen, Mason excels in school and community athletics. A member of the Monterey basketball team in each of his three years at middle school, he has also been an important member of the school’s badminton and track and field teams. Outside of school, Mason is a midfielder for the Bays United U14 Gold.

Mason also plays flute in the school concert band, electric bass guitar in the school jazz band, and won the school’s yearbook cover contest this year.

As if that wasn’t enough, Mason is a stalwart member of the school’s athletic leadership team, Spirit Council, and volunteered at his elementary school (Margaret Jenkins) for the spring fair.

Most remarkable, Mason has many accomplishments and gifts to be proud of, however, he remains humble and sweet to the people in his life, Elsdon noted.

He is an excellent sportsman, and always has kind, encouraging words for those who need it.

Sadie Pite (Tanara Oliveira/Black Press Media)

Sadie Pite – Oak Bay High – Grade 10

Sadie Pite is the embodiment of a young renaissance woman, according to the two teachers (school and ballet) who nominated her. She is endowed with multiple interests, curiosity, passion for excellence, a variety of talents and an outstanding intellectual ability to excel in academia and the arts.

In her school studies, she consistently achieves top marks while balancing a 20-25 hour per week professional training program in ballet and contemporary dance. An imaginative and gifted writer, an incredible and talented visual artist as well, Sadie challenges herself. Her sketchbook is never far from her hand wherever she goes. Involving herself in the more practical aspects, she works with a local artisan and spent last summer working at local markets.

Sadie pursues professional dance training six days a week on top of her other interests and academic commitments. Recently she moved to the Victoria Academy of Ballet for the professional training program.

In her rigorous dance training, Sadie demonstrates a strong work ethic and a mature professional approach to her daily classes and rehearsals. She is reliable, committed, and focused. She is quick to absorb and grasp new choreography and technical concepts and is extremely attentive to detail in both classical and contemporary work. In addition, Sadie is a committed team member. On top of her busy schedule, Sadie still finds time to give back to her community and the dance school by volunteering to assist younger dancers. She’s the consummate role model, acting as a class assistant, and takes a leadership role within the children’s programs at VAB.

Ria Jenel Rueda (Tanara Oliveira/Black Press Media)

Ria Janel Rueda – Oak Bay High – Grade 10

Ria Janel Rueda has become that person in the Performing Arts Department who assists all of her teachers on a daily basis, according to teacher and nominator Steve Price. She gives her time and talent to her school freely.

Ria is a member of the stagecraft team at Oak Bay High. She works with senior and junior students and is often a leader in the class and the building shop. She is often the first person to class and the last to leave, after being sure that the final cleanup has occurred. She is dedicated to learning more about the various aspects of theatre technology and management. She has recently become a ‘student tech’ where she assists with public rentals of the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre and school events. She understands the need to be constantly open to new learning and is always asking the right questions at the right time. A short time ago, when another student fell ill, Ria took on, with one day’s notice, the position of ‘follow spot operator’ for a Grade 9 drama event. She understood the need and jumped in to help, learned how to operate the equipment quickly and did an excellent job.

Ria excels in all aspects of her leadership class. She enjoys organizing school events, is always one of the first people to arrive and the last to leave. In this vein, Ria has taken up morning announcements. Every day, barring illness, the entire school can hear Ria’s positive and energetic voice with ‘Oak Bay live at 9:05’.

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