Volume 12 Week 5

Sunday, Feb. 17


Team of the Month

Posted Feb. 6

Posted Jan. 9

Posted Jan. 7


Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney


(Posted 8:30 a.m., July 6)
Orléans area grads earn top marks among the Class of 2017
By Fred Sherwin

Emerson Bach holds up the Governor-General’s medal she received for earning the top mark in her graduating class at Cairine Wilson Secondary School this year. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Emerson Bach, Cole Johnson, Kishen Gao and Kathleen Keenan all have two things in common: they all finished at the top of their graduating class and they all have a very bright future ahead of them.

Bach plans to pursue a concurrent degree in education and biology at Nipissing University in North Bay after earning a 97.7 per cent average at Cairine Wilson Secondary School. Of the three top grads, she was able to maintain one of the busiest schedules in her final year at school.

The Grade 12 student was on the Relay for Life committee; she helped coach the school’s swim team; she was on the cross-country ski team and the cross-country running team; and she organized the school’s first ever Diversity Day.

It’s not surprising then that Bach feels that maintaining a proper balance between academics and extra-curricular activities, was the key to her success as a student.

“What worked for me the most was staying on top of things but also doing the extra-curricular activities to keep me occupied outside of school, because I think you can get too invested in your school work, and if you can focus on all the positive things in your life then things come more naturally if you enjoy what you’re doing rather than focus on your marks,” says Bach who was pleasantly surprised when it was announced that she had earned the top average in her graduating class.

“It wasn’t really a goal of mine at the beginning of the year. I mean, I strived to do the best I could in all my classes, so it definitely was a pleasant surprise. It was a nice kind of reward.”

As for any advice she has for students entering their final year in September, Bach says they should simply focus on learning the subject rather than getting the highest grade.

“If you focus on learning then the marks will come naturally,” says Bach.

Emerson Johnson earned the top mark at St. Peter High School with a 96.5 per cent. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Gao was also highly involved both inside and outside his school. Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s top grad was on the Relay for Life committee and the school council. He also held down a part-time job until midway through his second semester and he volunteered at the YMCA as a basketball supervisor.

Gao says the key to his success in earning a 95.86 per cent average was time management and self discipline.

“You have to be able to use your time properly and work around your school work when it comes to other things. It also helps if you put your cell phone in another room,” says Gao, who will be studying software engineering at the University of Ottawa this fall.

Cole Johnson spent his spare time playing drums in a band at school coffee houses.

The St. Peter High School student plans to study psychology at Carleton Uni-versity after earning an overall average of 96.5 per cent.

His interest in psychology stems back to a missionary trip he took to Austin, Texas in Grade 10 during which he interacted with less fortunate and impoverished individuals. From that point on his goal was to get a doctorate in psychology and use his degree to help others.

“I went in with the objective to get an 85 per cent or higher in all my classes and earn a solid scholarship at Carleton, but as the year progressed my marks were higher,” says Johnson whose advice to other high school students is to spend as much time as possible with their teachers to gain a better understanding of the subject material rather than simply depending on memorization.

A perfect example of that is the approach Johnson took to his English course.

“During the first two to three weeks, I was like okay I need to learn what to do because my mark was in the mid-80s and so eventually I figured out the teacher’s style and my mark started to improve,” explains Johnson.

Kate Keenan earned the highest mark in the graduating class at St. Matthew High School with a 96.7 per cent while being actively involved as a leader of the youth group at Good Shepherd Church and working part-time at McDonalds.

She also had to deal with the challenge of living in a house with six other siblings. She has eight brothers and sisters, but two of them are attending St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.

Kate intends to stay closer to home, choosing to study civil engineering at Carleton University.

Other top grads in the east end include Peter Shen who earned a 97.67 per cent average at Gloucester High School, and Aaron Leonard who earned a 99.33 per cent average in the International Baccalaureate program at Colonel By Secondary School, narrowly edging out Yigga Zhang who had a 98.5 per cent average.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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