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Governor General Award Winners Announced

The eight recipients of the Governor General’s Academic Medal for the 2022-23 school year were celebrated at the Burnaby Board of Education meeting in October.

The Governor General’s Academic Medal was created 150 years ago in 1873. Recognizing the outstanding scholastic achievements of students who graduated with the highest grade point average, it’s considered the most prestigious award one can earn while attending a high school in Canada.

Here are the speeches delivered by the students’ school administrators at the Board’s public meeting.

Ari Cholakian, École Alpha

Ari Cholakian cherished his time at Alpha, where he was a part of the mini-school program that ignited his passion for science and engineering. In 2018, he, along with a team of three others, achieved Gold at the BC Skills Canada Spaghetti Bridge Competition, securing first place at the provincial level. During his senior years, he immersed himself in various Advanced Placement courses, his favourites being AP Chemistry, AP Physics 2, and AP Calculus. Ari was an active member of Alpha’s Student Council, serving as the inaugural Tech Representative. As a captain, he guided Alpha’s Physics Olympics team to impressive victories in recent competitions. Ari takes great pride in his contribution to the school’s science lab, where he assisted teachers and instructors with furthering student involvement in science. Currently, Ari is embarking on his journey as a first-year Engineering student at the University of British Columbia, with aspirations to further his studies in Engineering Physics in the coming years.

~ Principal Ben Paré

Lindsay Goudron, Burnaby Central

It is my pleasure to introduce Lindsay Goudron as the Governor General Award winner for Burnaby Central Secondary School for 2022-23. As a new Principal at Burnaby Central last school year, I didn’t get much opportunity to get to know Lindsay. However, those who did know Lindsay far better than I describe her as an exceptional academic student who also possesses outstanding interpersonal skills. To help further describe Lindsay, I asked one of her favourite teachers Mr. Randy Kamiya for some insight. Randy sent me the following:

“Lindsay excels at every endeavour. She entered the school in Grade 8 and joined the Track and Field team where she dominated her throwing events and was part of a Grade 8 team that won the district banner. She has gone on to be one of the top throwers in the province and despite a shoulder injury, Lindsay placed first in discus in 2021 and second in 2022 at BC Provincials and last year placed fourth in Canada showing amazing resiliency.

Academically, Lindsay is equally spectacular. She always puts in extra effort to fully understand all materials and has gained the ability to write all tests twice to confirm herself. This strategy has rubbed off on younger students and now is known as the “Lindsay Approach.” Her grades are obviously impressive with top marks in a number of AP classes and this motivation has always come from within.

At Central, Lindsay not only mentors and motivates those on the Track and Field team but she is also a leader of the school’s Care Project raising money for BC Children’s Hospital, and section head in concert band and jazz band, as well. Lindsay is always happy to help fellow students and the school community. Her AP Economics teacher states that amongst the many impressive students over the past 20 years, Lindsay will be remembered for her resilience, extraordinary effort, and service to the school’s athletics and community.

Needless to say, Lindsay is not only an extremely well-rounded student but also has a keen desire to give back and make her small corner of the world, a better place! Currently Lindsay is studying at the University of Waterloo and we wish her all the best and will be excited to hear about all of her successes in the years ahead as a proud alumnus……. once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat!”

~ Principal Tim Wozney

Katherine Mezei, Burnaby Mountain

I am pleased today to honour and recognize Burnaby Mountain’s recipient of this year’s Governor General Award: Katherine (Katy) Mezei. In her five years at Burnaby Mountain, Katy was an active member of our school community, in addition to her outstanding academic achievements and 98% Grade Point Average in Grades 11 and 12. Katy served on student council for all five years, including being co-president in her Grade 12 year. Her passion for the arts was evident in her numerous dance, music, and theatre performances, as well as her successful completion of the Music Production program at Burnaby North. Katy is now attending the University of Toronto, where she has been having a successful start to her post-secondary learning studying chemical engineering. Congratulations, Katy! Burnaby Mountain is proud of you and we wish you all the best!

~ Vice-Principal Dan Adrian

Richard Min, Burnaby North

Richard was an exceptional academic student and role model at North. Richard was President of our Model United Nations Club and a founder of both the Chess and Future Business Leaders of America clubs. Richard led the Model United Nations Club to participate at national conferences and received over $10,000 in scholarships with his Future Business Leaders of America Club. As a student, Richard was enrolled in a wide range of rigorous AP and Business courses. Richard is currently pursuing his post-secondary studies in Business at the London School of Economics and Political Science. With the time change, he and his family are unable to attend our meeting tonight.

Congrats Richard!

~ Principal Curtis Hodgson

Hope Luo, Burnaby South

I am pleased to present Hope Luo, Burnaby South’s Governor General’s Award Winner for 2022-23.

While at Burnaby South, Hope Luo was an academic leader and epitomized what it means to be a well-rounded student. She was the top student in all her Advanced Placement (AP) courses and was awarded the titles of AP Scholar with Distinction and the AP Capstone Diploma. Over two years, she wrote nine AP Exams and scored 100% in 11 of her senior-level courses. She was able to maintain this outstanding achievement while also being an integral member of South’s orchestra and swimming competitively at the provincial level, training each day for two hours. At South, she was an annual recipient of the Top Academic Achievement Award, Work Ethic Award and was named to the Principal’s Honour Roll List in every grade of her high school career.

Hope also gave back to her school and local community by being a leader in Burnaby South’s swim team and a leader in the Hyack Swim Club. She was also an executive member of South’s Kids Club, where Hope led initiatives such as a school supplies drive to get school supplies to elementary school students in need.

Hope is now continuing her education at the University of British Columbia in the Faculty of Science to prepare her for a career in health sciences and to advance further in the field. She was awarded the prestigious UBC’s Presidential Scholar and University of Toronto Presidential Entrance Awards, the Rotary Club of Burnaby Scholarship and the Spirit of BC Scholarship.

I have no doubt that she will be making positive contributions at UBC, just as she has made lasting contributions to Burnaby South. We are very proud to call Hope a Burnaby South Rebel, and our 2022-23 Governor General Award winner!

~ Principal Victoria Lee

Aashana Arora, Byrne Creek

Good evening Chairperson Brassington, Superintendent Nicolli-Moen, Trustees, Senior Management and guests. Tonight, I have the pleasure of speaking to you about Aashana Arora, the Governor General Award Recipient for Byrne Creek Community School.

Aashana is truly an exceptional person. Aashana is not only a gifted student with great curiousity, insight and imagination, but also a person who exudes kindness, empathy and compassion towards others.

Aashana’s dedication to her academic studies is apparent in her achievement of a 96% average over the last two years. While maintaining excellent academic achievement and continuously engaging in academic challenges, Aashana has dedicated many hours of service to our Byrne Creek community, as well as to the greater community by volunteering at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

In addition to the incredible dedication to her studies and her service in the community, Aashana is a multi-talented performer who has given countless hours to Theatre Company in Grades 9 through 12. As her teachers have described her as a gifted student in her academics, Aashana is also described as a gifted performer. Having watched Aashana perform many times, I can tell you that she captures the heart of the audience with her talent, her infectious personality, and the clear passion she has for performing.

Aashana is currently studying at the University of British Columbia. She plans to major in Psychology for her undergrad and continue to law school hoping to specialize in Criminal law. I do hope Aashana that alongside your academic pursuits you are also able to squeeze in a little time to carry on in some way with your passion for the performing arts.

Congratulations Aashana. I can’t tell you how happy the Byrne Creek staff is for you and your accomplishments. Your academic vigour, and your talents as a performer are also matched with a kindness and compassion towards others that makes such an impact on all those you cross paths with.  It has been a true honor to have you as part of the Byrne Creek community and we wish you every success in the future.

~ Principal Effie Aadland

Annika Yong, École Cariboo Hill

Annika encompasses the qualities of a Governor General Academic Medal recipient. Being part of a community school, Annika is a dedicated École Cariboo Hill Charger because of her academic excellence and her dedication to extracurricular activities, leadership and sense of community mindedness.

In her Grade 11 and 12 years, Annika took a total of 116 credits in full-time courses, achieving a 4.0 Grade Point Average in her top academic course load, most of which were Advanced Placement and Honours courses. Annika graduated with a Double Dogwood Certificate for her dedication to both the English language program and French Immersion program. She was also on the Honour Roll and Principal’s List every term of her career at École Cariboo Hill Secondary for her exceptional work habits and dedication to academic success. Annika is a Loran Scholar nominee, a three-time Above and Beyond Award recipient, and received the LJ Prior Scholarship and Naidu Family Legacy Sports Scholarship.

In addition to her impressive academic achievements, Annika demonstrates strong interpersonal skills as a peer mentor, working with junior students in developing strong academic skills through our mentorship program. She was a Second Street Mentorship Buddy and camp volunteer helping students develop their confidence in math, literacy and mental health. Annika was an active member of many clubs while attending École Cariboo Hill Secondary, including Green Team, Student Government, and Yearbook. Annika’s greatest passion lies in sports. From an early age, sports were a major part of Annika’s life and continues to focus her. While attending École Cariboo Hill Secondary, Annika was a dedicated player on our volleyball team from Grades 8-12 and continued to inspire being an assistant coach, co-captain, and mentor.

In the community, Annika has donated her time selflessly by volunteering with youth at Bee Daycare, Summer Fun Day Camp, Second Street Halloween Nights and even found time to give back with seniors at George Derby Centre.

Annika is currently enrolled and attending Simon Fraser University in the Faculty of Science in Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology and continues to pursue her passion for sports. She hopes to pursue a career in Sports Physiotherapy working directly with players in any field.

~ Principal Andy Chin

Kevin Low, École Moscrop

Good evening Trustees, senior staff, parents and guests. On behalf of Moscrop Secondary School it is my privilege to congratulate our 2022-23 Governor General Award winner, Kevin Low. Kevin has an incredible academic record at Moscrop but what is truly impressive is the breadth of courses he has taken at Moscrop. Kevin was part of student government, took courses in the sciences, computer sciences, the humanities, and career programs. He also took on the challenge of nine Advanced Placement courses through his Grade 11 and 12 years and managed to excel in all these courses. After taking exams in all nine of these AP courses, Kevin received the honours of AP Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction from the College Board. Kevin is currently studying Computer Sciences at University of British Columbia and we wish him all the best in his studies. Congratulations again to Kevin Low from all of us at Moscrop Secondary School.

~ Principal Chris Sandor


Read the Burnaby Now News Story.


Posted October 2023