Student Recognition Recipients from 2020-21
River Heights School
If you don’t recognize the name Ava Ro yet, you will soon – and it will likely be in lights. Ro is a remarkable young woman who is balancing academics with a career in show business, and she is the most recent recipient of a Student Recognition honour. The actor, singer and dancer has starred in series airing on TVOKids, CBC Gem, Discovery Kids, and Netflix, including Big Top Academy, Holly Hobbie, and Paw Patrol. In 2019, she was a finalist on America’s Got Talent with her musical group GFORCE, which recently rebranded as GEN:ZED. She has completed level 6 vocals with the Royal Conservatory of Music, plays piano, guitar, drums and ukulele, and also composes original songs.
In addition to achieving these significant milestones in the performing arts, Ro is known at River Heights School for her cooperative attitude and sense of humility, perseverance and responsibility.
Jarvis Public School
As a young entrepreneur, Jarvis Public School student Jaxon Kazakevicius identified a problem, saw an opportunity and found an innovative solution. The product he’s developed has dogs’ tails wagging.
Observing the process of beer brewing – which is a hobby of his dad’s – Jax noticed a lot of waste in the form of spent grain from the brewing process. So he put it to good use, developing a recipe for dog treats, and his “Beer Bites” business has taken off from there. He now has an arrangement with a local craft brewery so he can obtain the volume of spent grain he requires to produce the treats on a larger scale, and takes care of all aspects of the business in terms of making, marketing, and selling the product.
Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School
Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School student Brianna Thomas has a lot to be proud of as she embarks on her post-secondary career. The recent graduate is the recipient of two prestigious scholarships: the James Hillier Foundation scholarship, worth up to $20,000 and awarded to Brantford or Brant County students pursuing science; and a Schulich scholarship from the University of Waterloo, valued at $80,000, and awarded to only 100 students from across Canada annually.
“We’re delighted that a talented Grand Erie student like Brianna is being recognized for her hard work and academic achievements,” said JoAnna Roberto, Director of Education. “She has a bright and promising future ahead of her and we know she will make us all proud. We wish her every success as she begins her studies at the University of Waterloo.”
The work she’s completed this year has been at a level well beyond her years, including examining the human impact on the biodiversity of Cootes Paradise – findings which were shared with the Lynden Horticultural Society – and a partnership with the Grand River Grand River Conservation Authority to implement an interactive game meant to educate Grade 4 students about invasive species.
“Brianna is an exemplary student whose enthusiasm for learning fuels detailed investigation in the sciences,” said BCI teacher Brenda Csordas, who taught Thomas Grade 12 chemistry and biology in the Laurier program. “She has a systematic and logical approach to problem solving, an admirable work ethic, and has truly mastered the ability to conduct self-directed research.”
In addition to excelling in academics, she has a creative side, and is accomplished in graphic design and animation. She’s used those formats to help communicate and present her academic findings, taking complex, complicated topics and making them easy to understanding and entertaining to take in. She’s also taken on impressive leadership opportunities as a member of the Link Crew, mentoring students just beginning secondary school, and is an active volunteer in her community.
“Anyone at BCI could speak to Brianna’s kind, hardworking, and helpful character, and there is no one who will deny that she deserves all of her success,” said her friend and fellow graduate Shannon Millette. “She is definitely one of Grand Erie’s and BCI’s shining stars.”
Thomas will be attending the University of Waterloo’s Physical Sciences co-op program, majoring in Life Physics, this fall.
Delhi District Secondary School
A recent artistic achievement for Christian McCall, Grade 12 student at Delhi District Secondary School, has been approximately 500 million years in the making. McCall’s long-time fascination with pre-historic lifeforms combined with a creative eye and artistic talent, has led to a unique commission from the Royal Ontario Museum. Earlier this spring, McCall was commissioned to complete an artistic rendering of two ancient sea-floor species who survived through a symbiotic relationship – evidence uncovered in a recent fossil discovery in British Columbia. The artistic reconstruction of the species he completed will accompany an exhibit at the ROM, and was included in a recent CBC news feature.
Christian has demonstrated a high level of skill in drawing, painting, and sculpture over the course of his secondary school career, and hopes to continue combing this talent with his love and knowledge of paleontology. His medium of choice has been digital painting, working from scratch on a tablet to develop accurate, scientific-based paleo art that is truly on a professional level. As his art teacher, Richard Delaney, points out, some people are fortunate to be artistically talented, but lack a muse to drive their creative abilities; Christian has both the skills and the muse.