Laura Sawchuk

Laura Sawchuk

Students earn Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Laura Sawchuk and Olivia Belcher-Coward are ready for the real world.

Laura Sawchuk and Olivia Belcher-Coward are ready for the real world.

The two St. Margaret’s School students have spent the last four years gathering the skills and know-how to ensure life doesn’t pass them by.

The 17-year-olds, who are preparing to graduate in June, last week earned their gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, for having committed the time and effort into becoming well-rounded, globally minded citizens.

“It’s kept us on a good path throughout high school, which is a time when many people get lost,” Sawchuk said of the Award.

“This has given us confidence within ourselves that we have the ability – if we want to do something and we put our mind to it, we can.”

The two Grade 12 students, along with St. Margaret’s classmate Lily Li, were among 100 young British Columbians who received the gold award last Saturday in a ceremony at Government House.

Nathan How, 17, a Grade 12 Mount Douglas secondary student, also picked up an award for his work raising money for projects in Africa, volunteering with the B.C. Cancer Agency at the Jubilee Hospital on breast cancer research, and for his piano skills at the Royal Conservatory of Music.

His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, handed out the awards.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards is a program for young Canadians that provide them with skills and experiences that help build character and self-confidence and prepare them for life.

In the last four years, while working to earn the Gold award, Sawchuk has pushed herself out of her comfort zone to help build a school in Mexico. She’s also maintained an active life, balancing schoolwork with interests in figure skating and singing.

Belcher-Coward travelled to Costa Rica and helped do renovations at a school. She’s been a regular volunteer at a soup kitchen in Sidney, while also focusing on hobbies such as ballet and piano.

“You have to log all your hours,” she said of one of the requirements to earn the award. From her volunteer hours to the time she committed to piano, it all adds up as she worked towards exploring her potential.

“When I look back at my log book, it’s pretty surprising to see how much I’ve actually done; how many hours I’ve put into my community and myself in the past four years,” Belcher-Coward said. “It’s been a huge commitment to do it, but it’s going to pay off.”

Victoria-area students Shane Jagdis, Tamara Post, Genevieve Penny, Harrison Duncan, Kate Bourne, Katherine Fretz, Cameron Rice-Gural, and Katherine Adams also received awards from Prince Andrew last weekend.

For more information on the awards, visit dukeofed.org.

kslavin@saanichnews.com