Seven students from Vilna School earned honourable mentions in the Alberta School Boards Association Indigenous Student Awards.
The annual awards are presented to First Nations, Métis, or Inuit students nominated by their teachers and mentors for their leadership, courage, and commitment to their cultures and educational paths.
According to Diane Padlesky, the assistant principal of Vilna School, part of the reason so many of their students received honourable mentions is because the school has quite a lot of indigenous students.
“Each one of them would have demonstrated some leadership qualities, they would be positive role models. They would always be quite good natured or, looking for the positive of things,” said Padlesky.
“Something about each one of them stood out to their classroom teacher.”
Tianna Natalia Favel, Savannah Knight, Veronica Memnook, Bessie-Anna Papin, Analeigh Rose Steinhauer, Jake Edward Wahsatnow, and Maxime Jean Wahsatnow were all nominated for the Indigenous Student Awards and selected to receive honourable mentions.
“Maxime is in Grade 6. [In the nomination] the teacher mentioned he was very thoughtful, considerate, and always willing to help. He enjoyed a challenge, was encouraging to his peers,” said Padlesky.
“Veronica Memnook was in Grade 3 last year. Although she’s very quiet she has lots of leadership skills. She’s always encouraging others, she models good citizenship, demonstrates good work ethic, tries her best, you know, puts a lot of effort into her work,” said Padlesky.
She said it’s important to nominate students for awards like this because it gives an opportunity to highlight some of the quiet ones who don’t get noticed all the time “but they are just consistently focused, hardworking students who have so much to offer. And we just wanted to acknowledge the gifts that they have and really just celebrate the people they are.”
In previous years, Vilna School has hosted an assembly to present students nominated with a certificate and an eagle feather. Because of the pandemic and the return to synchronous at-home learning that won’t be happening, but Padlesky said they will still be sending the certificates to the students.
Twelve students from around Alberta received Indigenous Student Awards in 2020. Recipients include Angel Applegarth and Miranda Gilchrist-McCollum from Edmonton, Sydney Cross, Alexis Desjarlais, Rayne Ducharme, and Del Smith Big Snake from Calgary, Lucas Thompson and George Metacat-Yah from Fort McMurray, Lucy Beaverbones from Hinton, Buffalo Rock Rain from Duffield, Lakota Testawich from Brownvale, and Tayden Shott from Fort MacKay.