Sophia Wang [汪淑惠]
Bill Crothers Secondary School
Chung-Kotcheff Family Arts Award
When Sophia started secondary school, she was better known as an outstanding athlete having concentrated her time doing rhythmic gymnastics training twenty-five hours a week on the Canadian National Gymnastic Team. This took her to Moscow in 2014, Faroe Islands in 2015 and the Czech Republic in 2016 for World Championship Competitions that resulted in a 10th place ranking in the world. However, in grade ten, a video production course launched her journey into film. After making a short film, she traded being front of the camera to behind and fell in love with everything from shooting to editing. In her words, “Gymnastics taught me what devoting one hundred percent of my life to something meant and I was ready to devote two hundred percent to film.” With each video, she grew as a film maker. This year, she had a film selected for the Toronto International Film Festival and at the Vaughan Film Festival, she received the award for Best Student Film. One of her films was selected for the Toronto Short Film Festival and runner up for the Canada 150 Cineplex contest. She received the York Region District School Board Award for Best Representation of School Arts for Film and Television. She has also worked on CBC and RBC commercial shoots and videographed Miss Universe Canada while directing five other short films. She is currently working on an avant-garde film about the future of artificial intelligence and how best to educate students to prepare for it. Her teacher referred to Sophia as one of his top students, one who consistently received marks in the 90s. Sophia is the brightest talent he has had for years, notably her winning the top video award for all high schools at the Ontario Leadership Conference. He said, “What also sets Sophia apart from the other students is her ability to not only succeed in her own work but help her peers become better students.”
Sophia is currently studying Film and Television at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
Leo Jun Kai Xu [徐俊凯]
Bayview Secondary School
Dorothy Lu Community Services Award
Leo was enrolled in the IB Diploma Program at Bayview Secondary School. As demanding as this program is, he took an active role in the Markham Mayor’s Youth Council in 2017 and worked to promote and politically engage youth across the GTA. He spearheaded Think Tank, the annual youth conference that brought together 100 youth advocates and adolescent speakers to share personal tales of growth, development, and opportunity and to discuss racism, community involvement, and academia. At the provincial level, Leo served as an executive member of the Federation of Canadian Secondary Students (FCSS) that hosted a forum on a Student Bill of Rights. Nationally, he was a member of the RCMP’s Youth Advisory Council where issues, such as drug abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness were discussed. Leo worked with more than 100 members across the country to address the challenges that hinder student success. Leo was recognized with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Rt. Hon. Governor General Julie Payette and the Canada 150 Sesquicentennial Pin from Minister Jane Philpott. One of his teachers shared, “Leo has always been one of the most respectful, kind and optimistic individuals I have known. His enthusiasm is contagious and his kindness and positive approach towards all his work and extracurricular activities have contributed to the development of a caring school culture”. His supervisor at the FCSS was continually amazed by his passion, dedication, and immense care for the work of the organization, never shying away from challenges. He was going to be missed for his energy and tenacity in his role as an Initiate Affiliate Manager who worked on national youth initiatives.
Leo is enrolled in the Business Management and Social Sciences at Western University.
Bruce Ziming He [賀子鳴]
Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute
University of Toronto Scarborough Academics Award
Bruce was enrolled in a very unique program at Marc Garneau called TOPS, Talented Offerings for Programs in the Sciences and geared towards enrichment in science, mathematics, and English. Only sixty students are chosen from over 550 applicants. They are taught Quantum Mechanics in Grade 9. By Grade 10, they have completed enriched Grade 11 math, and by Grade 11, advanced placement (university level) calculus courses. His English teacher wrote that Bruce is one of the smartest individuals he has ever taught. “His mind is always in motion. Sometimes he is the quiet observer and other times the boisterous debater. Bruce is forever trying to unlock life’s mysteries and is an accomplished writer. His academic and creative assignments reveal a mature, intelligent and witty mind. He is a serious seeker of knowledge and has an incredible memory as is evident by his membership and pivotal role he plays as a member of the Quiz League. He is a walking encyclopedia.” Bruce was awarded the “Maximus Curiosis” Award for his exceptional experiments and application of equations in his advanced courses. He did a study on the flow rates of rivers in Algonquin Park, where he co-developed an algorithm to extrapolate flow rates from data. He placed in the honour rolls of several mathematical contests, received awards of distinction for computer science and chemistry contests and a bronze medal at the Toronto Science Fair for work on cutaneous wound healing. He was co-president of the school’s Quiz League that finished third at the Toronto Reach for the Top tournament. He received a nomination for the John Dobson Entrepreneurship Cup when he participated at SHAD to streamline food bank donations using an app-based branding service. He interned at the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect where he did research on and helped publicize international principles governing atrocity crimes. One particular accomplishment he prizes is writing and organizing the first history-themed puppet show for Gibson House Museum to introduce its story to children.
Bruce is studying Software Engineering at Waterloo University.
Francesca Ying Ho [何英]
Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute
Murphy & Chung Chartered Accountants Athletics Award
Francesca focused her skills in a sport which is predominantly male. She always felt that she needed to work twice as hard to compete with the boys. She started Kendo at the age of eleven when chances of quitting were high. It meant practicing more (currently eleven hours per week), going to the gym, dieting, watching Kendo videos in her spare time, and being willing to put in the extra effort. This constant self-improvement made her one of the up-and-coming Kendo players in the country with tournament placements in Vancouver, Cleveland, Detroit, Montreal, and the GTA. Not only was she the youngest 2nd degree black belt holder in Ontario, she was the youngest player on the Canadian Women’s Kendo Team that placed third at the 2018 World Kendo Championships in Korea. Within the community, she volunteers at all junior tournaments and seminars in the GTA. She has become a role model for younger Kendo players since she is closer in age to them than the rest of Team Canada whose members are predominantly in their late 20s and early 30s. This year, she won the Nisei Veterans’ Award at the Japanese Canadian Culture Centre (JCCC) for her outstanding contributions to her home club, JCCC Kendo Club. Kendo has a low retention rate for beginners. It is not a popular sport in Canada so Team Canada athletes must fund their own trips. Winning the Jean Lumb Award will help with her tuition, trips, and training fees. Her Kendo instructor of nine years commented, “Francesca is an excellent role model to all of our club members as well as other aspiring young members and the provincial Kendo community. As the JCCC Kendo Club’s Junior Leader, she led the JCCC Club’s Junior Team to an unprecedented four-year, unbeaten record. Francesca is extremely advanced in her Kendo skills.”
Francesca is enrolled in Math and Computer Science at University of Toronto.
Meisa Chen [陳美莎]
Markham District High School
Choi King and John C. Mah Memorial Innovation Award
Ever since Meisa was five years old, she wanted to be an astronaut. She was drawn to the idea of venturing where none had ever been. In Grade 9, she joined the Markham Classics Club, dedicated to events from the thirteenth century. Melissa created a comprehensive study guide to help members for classics competitions, complete with self-made practice quizzes, online flash-cards, and videos. Her “study parties” and fund-raising events at the club made a lasting impact. Markham District High School won the top academic awards at the Ontario Students’ Classics Conference. The next challenge she took up was a newly-established startup called Candy Cutlery. As a summer intern, she created a database of potential partners that matched prospective customers. That led to a catering deal for an event attended by 200 people. Meisa became the national COO of the business education non-profit, FUSE Society, where she organized and hosted conferences and competitions across Canada. In 2017, Meisa was at UBC for an intensive month of STEAM-based learning after which she won Best Pitch, Best Solution, and Best Overall for the SHAD Entrepreneurship Cup. Last year, she led a business and technology career panel at George Brown College, including speakers like the CEO of Canada’s leading hyperloop company. She organized Canada’s first green business case competition for high school students in collaboration with York University. A current focus is her social street wear startup, Koristei. She hopes it will revolutionize youth fashion by ensuring every clothing line celebrates the designers and their career aspirations while helping a community cause, like a local homeless shelter or food bank. The company was accepted into the Ontario Summer Company Program. Meisa, as CEO, managed the company’s sales, finance, design, and marketing. She was responsible for over twenty sales associates in ten high schools and universities in the GTA while maintaining a 95 percent grade average.
Meisa is enrolled in grade 12 at Markham District High School.
Selina Chow [周卓思]
Maximilian Dignity of Life Award
Selina has been driven by an expression, “Helping one person might not change the world, but you can change the world for that person.” Three years ago, images of dead Syrian children “shocked her into action” and she established Dignity for All (D4A), an inter-school committee to raise awareness and funds for the Syrian refugees. She organized 100 students from two schools, authored monthly newsletters, and welcomed 100 Syrian refugees to their schools for sports, arts, English, and computer classes. In addition, she founded the Dementia Awareness Program – a first partnership of a Toronto hospital, nursing home, and school to raise awareness and de-stigmatize dementia. She and a group of students visited a nursing home weekly to enrich the lives of the elderly residents. In doing so, they deepened and shared their knowledge of dementia with their 2,500 blog readers worldwide. For these efforts, Selina was honoured with her school’s Student Innovation Award and featured in the National Post. It is not surprising that she won the Highest General Proficiency Award each year from grades 7 to 11 and received awards for highest academic standing in four Grade 12 courses, all completed in Grade 11. She received an award from the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada Foundation for her community involvement, leadership, and academic achievements. She was featured as Canada’s Student of the Week on Campus Rankings – the #1 blog for Canadian high school students entering university. Her teacher views Selina to be in the top one percent of the students in her eighteen-year career, someone with a fantastic sense of humour, someone who genuinely cares for others.
Selina is enrolled in a Bachelor of Health Sciences Course at McMaster University.
Lisa Wang [王莉挱]
Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute
Fay and John Wong Defence of the Environment Award
Lisa was enrolled in a very unique program at Marc Garneau called TOPS, as described above for her fellow school mate, Bruce He. Her teacher wrote, “There are very few students that know the school as well as does Lisa or spend so many hours running through its halls advocating for change. In her role as president of the school, she has created a house system in the school that has brought the school together in the spirit of competition. She is a source of pride to Marc Garneau C.I.” Her teacher noted her curiosity for environmental science and its connection to social issues began when Lisa was in Grade 9. As she became older and more focused, she developed a keen interest in renewable energy and in fighting energy poverty through solar power. Lisa was noted as an extremely eager, environmentally-minded, and ambitious leader with great integrity. Lisa was on the school’s EcoTeam for four years and she served as its president for three years. During that time, she inspired and led the team for three consecutive years to Platinum status – the most prestigious EcoSchools certificate. Her school became a Bee City school – the second to gain that status in all of Canada. For her work in pollinator conservation, she won first place in the International Apprentice Ecologist Awards and earned a finalist spot for the Evergreen+ TD Future Builders Award. She was the founder of Project Plastic Action that engaged over fifty student volunteers to promote sustainable living practices and reduction of plastic. The school’s three garbage bins were reduced to one and 15,000 water bottles were diverted from landfills. On the Toronto Youth Environmental Council, she was the head volunteer at the TDSB ClimateCon conference. She held an internship at Ryerson University as a research assistant in the Civil Engineering Department. Her teacher praised her innovative thinking, impact on the community, and her inspiring drive.
Lisa is studying Environmental Science and English at Harvard University.