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Burnaby school board celebrates top academic grads of 2021

Trustees lament they can't congratulate winners of Governor General's Academic Medal in person because of COVID-19
governor general's academic medals
The winners, clockwise from top left, are Jamie Ma, Burnaby South, Ratana Wang, Burnaby North, Devin Chikhlia, Cariboo Hill, Emily Ma, Alpha, Samantha Ying Yi Li, Moscrop, Grace Que, Burnaby Central, Jaehwan Seok, Byrne Creek, and Oscar Lautsch, Burnaby Mountain.

The Burnaby school board recognized the top 2021 academic grad from each of its eight high schools at an online school board meeting last week.

The Governor General’s Bronze Academic Medal for secondary schools is awarded to the grad with the highest average mark for all of his or her grade 11 and 12 courses.

For 2020/21, those students were École Alpha Secondary’s Emily Ma, Burnaby Central Secondary’s Grace Que, École Cariboo Hill Secondary’s Devin Chikhlia, Burnaby Mountain Secondary’s Oscar Lautsch, Byrne Creek Community School’s Jaehwan Seok, École Moscrop Secondary’s Samantha Ying Yi Li, Burnaby South Secondary’s Jamie Ma and Burnaby North Secondary’s Ratana Wang.

The top grads and their families are usually invited to a public school board meeting in September and recognized with speeches by their school principals.

For the past two years, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been recognized in a brief slide show during an online meeting instead.

Trustee Peter Cech lamented the change.

“I think I can speak for everybody that’s on the Zoom call tonight that we’re all tired of meeting this way,” he said at last Tuesday’s meeting.  “I really wish that I could stand in front of you and personally congratulate you on your awards. It’s a reflection of your effort, it’s a reflection of your community, it’s a reflection of your teachers, a reflection of your parents, and it’s one of the things that I look forward to the most during the whole school year, is to congratulate you students.”

Board chair Jen Mezei agreed.

 “I think we all echo your sentiments,” she said after Cech’s comments.

The Governor General’s Academic Medals have been handed out for nearly 150 years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, is among the medal’s more than 50,000 past recipients.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor