Parent and Student Info » Rotary Student of the month

Rotary Student of the month

 "Student of the Month" is a Rotary Club of Penticton-Okanagan initiative.  The award aims to recognize outstanding students for unique achievement in scholastics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership and service to others.  The Rotary Club of Penticton-Okanagan is partnering with Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School, aided by a generous financial contribution from Gateway Casinos as part of their proactive involvement in wide-ranging community service projects.

Penticton Herald - Rotary Student of the Month June 2024


The Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise is pleased to select Mya Burghardt – an all-round, immensely gifted, fiercely determined, and deeply caring grade 12 student athlete at Princess Margaret Secondary School – as Rotary Student of the Month for June.


Burghardt’s SOM selection is a no brainer as her outstanding achievements in numerous activities during her time at Maggie provide a textbook example of how focus, dedication and drive in the dogged pursuit of excellence can yield mind-bending results. She has refined this formula for success to perfection, garnering some 17 academic, athletic, leadership and inspirational awards culminating in Top Academic Student in grade 9 and Top All-round Student in grades 10 and 11.


Born and raised in Penticton, Burghardt is the third of four children in a tightly knit family in which being physically active and outside exploring nature are central to maintaining a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. Empathetic, engaging and mature beyond her years, she has been well-coached at home in core life skills promoting self-fulfillment, career success and social obligation.


Firstly, Burghardt is a brilliant student. Hardwired with an inquisitive, razor-sharp intellect primed by an insatiable quest for knowledge, she has always excelled scholastically. Since grade 10, she has recorded a stellar average grade of 97.3% while carrying a full slate of demanding STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-foundational subjects. In fact, she averaged an eye-popping 98% in eight STEM (math and science) courses, achieving the top mark in six of them.


While enjoying the variety of courses she has taken at Maggie, Burghardt has a burning passion for math and the sciences as she finds “their subject material makes sense, often provides a clear answer, and offers insight into all matter of things, both physical and living, in our universe.”


Science teacher Cory Hogg said, “I have had the pleasure of being Mya’s physics 11 and 12 teacher for the past two years. Curiosity-driven, self-motivated and detail-focused, she engages in class with purpose and passion. She always lights up the room with her beaming smile, kind and thoughtful acts, and warm exchanges among peers and teachers alike. Sincere, courteous and respectful, Mya is a gem of a young lady with a very bright future ahead of her.”


Math teacher Chris Becker said, “Mya is truly an exceptional student. In her three math courses, she was advanced a year, so although younger than her classmates, she was a role model for them. She always asked questions and sought clarification to ensure she fully understood. Taking Pre-calculus 12 and Calculus 12 as a grade 11 student and receiving the top mark in both is rare.”


A versatile athlete, Burghardt has played on the PMSS girls soccer and field hockey teams and with Pinnacles FC, a local soccer club, since grade 10. She also played on Maggie’s inaugural ultimate frisbee coed team this past year. As a midfielder in soccer and a centre forward in field hockey, she has been a key member of both teams, having garnered Top Female Athlete, Jr. Girls Soccer MVP and Jr. Field Hockey Impact in grade 10 and Sr. Field Hockey Impact in grade 11.


Burghardt “relishes the positive social interactions and lasting friendships forged through team sports, as well as their intrinsic value in teaching the importance of commitment, self-sacrifice, teamwork and perseverance towards reaching a common goal in any group undertaking.”


Physical Ed teacher Madison Wilms said, “Mya is a truly amazing student whose stellar record during her time with us has left a lasting impact on our school and the greater community. Having taught, coached and observed Mya as a peer tutor, I have seen firsthand how she is very clever, kind, personable and hardworking, always leading by example and inspiring her peers to do their best. Her positive attitude and selfless zeal to help others make her an admired role model.”


These feats as a student athlete, impressive as they are, constitute only two facets of Burghardt’s solid track record at Maggie. It is two others, namely, stellar leadership and selfless service to others, that set her apart and define her unique set of special talents and guiding core principles.

Recipient of the coveted Robyn Muir Inspirational Award in grade 10, Burghardt is driven by “a burning passion to create an encouraging and inclusive learning environment where others have an opportunity to succeed and excel like me.” She takes great pride in her well-honed teaching skills, taking different angles for different students as no two process information the same.


Burghardt has eagerly joined in various extramural activities. These include events for fostering a positive school culture, such as Kindness Week, Grade 8 Orientation Day and Remembrance Day Ceremony, and fundraisers, such as 10,000 Tonight food drive for the Salvation Army, Haunted House For Kids to provide Christmas hampers for needy kids and funds for a Dry Grad.


Physical/health education and science teacher Tim Haberstock said, “In class, Mya sets a high bar of achievement for not only herself but her peers as well. Her beaver-like work ethic and positive outlook are contagious, making her a huge asset to any undertaking ranging from school sports and fundraising drives to youth activities outside. Her ability to excel academically while devoting so much time and energy to these other laudable pursuits attests to her organizational skills.”


Pinnacles FC Lisa Moore said, “As past Administrative Assistant for the Youth Junior Coaching Program, I recruited Mya based on her outgoing personality, can-do mindset and love for the sport (soccer). She displayed all the traits one looks for in a kids’ coach, engaging with them in a fun-filled, energetic and creative way while also teaching proper technique and sportsmanship.”


Music is also an important part of Burghardt’s life. She began taking formal piano lessons in grade 6 and has now completed up to Level 6 in The Royal Conservatory of Music Certificate Program.

Burghardt is quick to credit her dad, her role model, for her healthy, well-balanced lifestyle, noting that “he has always encouraged me to try new things and challenge myself



For relaxation, Burghardt enjoys being active in the outdoors with family and friends: hiking, biking, camping, waterboarding and exploring our scenic valley and in winter, skiing up at Apex on weekends. She also loves playing the guitar and teaching the family dogs tricks.


Given her “fervent desire to embark on a career that benefits the health and wellbeing of others,” it is fitting that upon graduation, Burghardt plans to obtain a BSc degree in the biomedical sciences at UBC Okanagan before pursuing doctoral studies in dentistry as a prelude to a productive and rewarding career following in her dad’s footsteps.


This jewel of a young lady with the “human touch” will surely enrich and inspire the lives of all those she meets along the way.

Penticton Herald - Rotary Student of the Month for February 2024


The Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise is pleased to announce the selection of Ciara Browne – an immensely gifted, all-around, high-octane fueled and altruistic Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School – as Rotary Student of the Month for February.


Browne is being honored for her many outstanding achievements encompassing the full gamut of school activities, from academics and athletics to leadership initiatives, community engagement and selfless service to others.

First and foremost, Browne is a brilliant student.


Endowed with a curiosity-fuelled, razor-sharp intellect and insatiable appetite for knowledge, she has achieved an astonishing 97.3% average throughout Grades 10-12.


This stellar record is especially impressive given her demanding course load, featuring a full slate of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-related subjects.


She was the recipient of Maggie’s Top Academic Award in Grades 9 and 10, and was the top student in Calculus 12 (98% mark) and English Studies 12 (97% mark). She also scored 100% in English First Peoples 12 and Anatomy & Physiology 12.


Browne especially thrives on courses of practical value, such as English First Peoples 12, which introduced her to the Indigenous-defining concept of human-nature reciprocity and our interdependence on the natural world.


Upon learning of the endangered Monarch butterfly and its connection to Showy Milkweed, Browne was inspired to apply the reciprocity concept by creating a project that aims to introduce hundreds of Showy Milkweed plants into the Penticton area.


She intends to use her position on Youth Council Penticton – a new volunteer organization composed of high school students that aims to foster community betterment – to complete the project while engaging with local elementary schools to foster an educational milieu where youth learn to value ecological balance. By these efforts, she aims to educate them about environmental conservation and empower them to act.


Sports have always been another major part of Browne’s life.


Passionate and dedicated, she competed in karate from 2015 to early 2023, climaxing with a gold medal at the 2022 Canada Open Karate Championships in Vancouver and a bronze medal at the 2023 Canada Winter Games in P.E.I.

To reach the podium, she had to train long and hard and battle back from numerous injuries – lower back, right foot and both knees. At present, she has instructed over 150 students of all ages and assisted teammates as a ring-side coach at regional and provincial competitions.


“I’ve known Ciara for nearly 8 years since she joined Taneda Dojo Penticton at a relatively late age of 9, making the transition to elite competition at age 12 challenging,” said karate instructor Mike Ditson.


“This did not deter Ciara, however, as her innate talent, consummate work ethic, mental and physical toughness, and infectious positive attitude kicked in to set her apart.”


A versatile athlete, Browne has played school basketball since 2014 (except for Grade 11, due to karate). This past year she played power forward on the Maggie senior girls’ basketball team and defense on their field hockey team. For relaxation, she enjoys skating at local ice rinks.


While Browne’s accomplishments in academics and athletics are indeed eye-popping, it is her novel leadership initiatives and tireless pursuit of altruistic acts that serve to set her apart.

One of her most impactful initiatives has been the creation of an outreach program introducing engineering in an insightful way to over 150 middle school students in our school district.


Also, in the English First Peoples 12 course, she completed an amazing project on reconciliation in aerospace engineering with a website outlining what she believes is a path forward in creating equity in this field.


Lastly, she volunteered to film and edit a music video that the class created with their kindergarten buddies, leaving a memory that will be treasured by many people.


Holy Cross School teacher Michele Cumberland said: “I had the absolute pleasure of teaching Ciara in Grades 7 and 8. Driven to excel, Ciara is an exceptional person whose leadership potential was evident early on.


“Last fall she visited classrooms, including mine, to give a STEM talk inspiring middle school students to consider a career in engineering,” continued Cumberland.


“Also, she was a judge at our Grades 6-8 science fair, providing students with constructive feedback and she peer-tutored nearly 50 students in Pre-Calculus 11 and Calculus 12 classes. Lastly, she became a volunteer leader on our city’s new youth council. Each of these deeds requires a deep commitment of time, dedication and excellence. Clearly, she freely gives of herself to enable others to reach their full potential.”


English teacher Erica Fitton said: “Ciara is a remarkable young lady. Her proactive approach and unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship, combined with her stellar academic record, proven leadership ability, and strong athletic feats make her an ideal Rotary SOM recipient.


“I truly believe that she will continue to excel wherever her future leads may take her while making major contributions to her community and country, and the greater environmental landscape.”


This past fall, Browne was one of 5,200 Canadian students who applied for the prestigious, full-range, $100,000 Loran Award tenable at 25 partnering universities.


The rigorous, multi-stage selection process is self-described as “unique in its attention to a young person’s character … believing integrity, courage, grit and personal autonomy are better indicators of overall potential than standard academic measures.”


Clearly, these criteria are right up Browne’s alley, as she is one of only 90 finalists who will soon travel to Toronto for two days of interviews to select up to 36 award recipients. To have reached this stage is a mind-boggling feat and there may well be more to come.


Upon graduation, Browne plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering, specializing in software engineering or engineering physics, at Queen’s University, the University of B.C. or University of Waterloo.


Upon finishing her bachelor’s degree, she intends to either undertake graduate studies or enter the aerospace industry as a software engineer focusing on promoting environmental sustainability.


Regardless, this exceptionally talented and highly motivated young person with a passion for mentorship seems destined to leave an indelible mark reverberating well beyond the shores of Lake Okanagan.

Student of the Month is a Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise project. The award aims to recognize outstanding students for unique achievement in scholastics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership, and service to others. The club is pleased to recognize Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School as project partners, and Cascades Casino Penticton for generous financial aid.

Penticton Herald - Rotary Student of the Month for November 2023


The Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise is delighted to select Graci Gallicano – an immensely gifted, industrious and compassionate grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School – as Student of The Month for November.

The selection of Gallicano is a slam dunk, given her tireless commitment to, and key role in, numerous extracurricular activities – musical theatre, athletics and Indigenous leadership, to name three – not only at Maggie but also across School District 67.


Her zeal to freely serve as a strong and effective advocate for the rights and reconciliation of her Syilx Okanagan people has led her to become an admired cultural leader and role model in her school and native community.


Principal Bo Boxall said: “Graci’s ability to transcend so many diverse areas of interest, to connect with everyone she meets, and to offer insight into all aspects of our education system defines her uniqueness. Her reflective initiatives to increase our insight into the truth and reconciliation movement and how actionable steps can be taken to fulfill our duties are highly valued by all.”


Gallicano is the youngest of six children with caring and supportive parents. After moving from Vernon to Penticton at age three, she attended Outma Sqilxw Cultural School on the Penticton Indian Reserve before switching to Skaha Lake Middle School in Grade 8 and then Maggie in Grade 9.


“Although it was scary going from my reserve school to one in town, I succeeded,” Gallicano said.


In fact, she excelled, as she captured the Top Student Award in her only year at SLMS.


Gallicano’s passion for musical theatre is baked in her DNA. At age four, she first sang the Okanagan Song and often starred in short plays at Outma. As a long-time member of Maggie’s Horseshoe Theatre, she was part of the ensemble in the Broadway musical “Grease” in Grade 10 and played a lead character, Audrey, in the comedy musical “Little Shop of Horrors” in Grade 11. She will cap off her stellar performing career at Maggie as the lead female character, Rosie Alvarez, in the production of “Bye Bye Birdie” next semester.


Drama/theatre teacher Lori Grant said: “I am so proud of Graci having seen her mature in drama these last few years. She has such a lovely, graceful way about her. Kind, thoughtful and mindful of her influence on others, she has spoken so confidently on Indigenous-related matters and her words have definitely resonated with her audiences. Graci will surely go on to do great things.”


Gallicano’s acting talents extends to modeling. In July 2022, she auditioned for a vegan cooking show at the urging of a model placement agency (DEJA VU Model Management, West Kelowna). She and a partner were selected over several hundred other contestants. The show has been filmed and is now being edited.


She also placed second in a “cold reading” contest at the Faces West Model & Talent Convention held in Vancouver a year ago in which 20 models from across Canada were given a four-page script to memorize 10 minutes before acting it out on stage.


A fiercely competitive and versatile athlete, Gallicano shines in volleyball and basketball, playing on both junior rep teams in Grade 10 and both senior rep teams in Grade 11. At five-foot-eight, she plays the power position in volleyball and shooting guard in basketball. She was also on Maggie’s track and field team in Grade 11, participating in the long jump and 4x100-metre relay events.


Both theatre and team sports are a major part of Gallicano’s life.


“In both cases, I am having fun working hard with close friends to achieve a common goal, while keeping myself physically healthy and mentally alert,” she said.


Gallicano is also a key player on Maggie’s dynamic leadership team, routinely taking part in such major fundraisers as 10,000 Tonight Food Drive and Terry Fox Run. She was a lead actor in the recent 2023 Haunted House Fundraising event and will MC the upcoming Christmas Concert.


And she is the driving force behind Maggie’s enlightened Indigenous leadership program, and it is this pivotal role that sets her apart.


This past year, she MCed the Truth and Reconciliation Day assembly, spoke at the Orange Shirt Day, and sang the Okanagan Song at various events. At the district level, she helped to design and implement the strategic plan, took part in the flag raising ceremony and created Nsyilxcen language resources. She will also be speaking at the 2023 BCSTA Trustee Academy on the topic of engaging student voice in district and school planning. This expansive body of work in leadership garnered her the Top Senior Service Award in Grade 11.


Indigenous support worker Jolanda Poetsch said: “An inspiration to us all, Graci radiates an infectious blend of kindness, empathy and dedication. Her readiness to freely share her family’s story of courage and hope has shed new light on the intergenerational impact of the residential school system and charted a path forward in reconciliation. Her legacy is one of tireless devotion to improving the world around her.”


Given her hectic agenda, it is not surprising that Gallicano listed time management as her biggest challenge, compounded by an underlying perfectionist bent and a tendency to procrastinate.


Although she no longer takes lessons, Gallicano loves playing the piano, as well as the ukulele and hand drum for relaxation. She said she is “very big on learning about human rights and different cultures around the globe.” Having travelled in Central America and Africa, she has found that “you can learn more about how people actually live from poor than from rich countries.”


Upon graduation, Gallicano plans to attend UBC, majoring in the performing arts and minoring in social justice while pursuing a modelling career.


Regardless, great leaders are forged in a crucible of challenges and this young lady has the mettle to defy the odds and leave an indelible mark that reverberates well beyond the majestic shores of her Syilx people’s storied Okanagan Lake.


Student of the Month is a Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise project. The award aims to recognize outstanding students for unique achievement in scholastics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership, and service to others. The club is pleased to recognize Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School as project partners, and Cascades Casino Penticton for generous financial aid.


Penticton Herald - Rotary Student of the Month for April 2023


The Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise is pleased to recognize Branson Crawford — an immensely gifted, passionately driven and team-oriented Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School — as Rotary Student of the Month for April.


In selecting him, the club celebrated his pivotal role with the acclaimed Penticton Robotics Club, while also excelling in scholastics and volleyball.


Born and raised in Penticton in a loving and supportive family, Crawford says he’s been well-coached at home in “the importance of hard work and perseverance to achieving one’s goals while always treating others with kindness and respect and staying humble and grounded when successful.”


Crawford has thoroughly enjoyed his time at Maggie – its vibrant, collegial atmosphere and, above all, the stimulating interactions with his superb teachers.


“Their enthusiasm for each subject is infectious and they all go the extra mile to ensure that each student understands the material being taught, including freely offering remedial help after class, if needed,” he said.


Robotics has become a cornerstone of Crawford’s life. This love affair was kindled last year in Grade 11 when his computer science teacher, Josh Walker, the coach of the Penticton Robotics Club, invited him to join this year’s team. He accepted and tirelessly laboured over the summer learning the Java programming language as a prerequisite to serving as the club’s lead coder.


Beginning last September, Crawford and his Maggie/Pen-Hi teammates spent many hours honing their skills for the 2023 Pacific Regional FIRST robotics competition held in Victoria early last month.


In the last eight weeks, they toiled until 11 p.m. each school night and on weekends to “build a robot that collects game pieces and places them at increasingly difficult posts, followed by trying to balance the robot on a teeter totter to earn points,” explains Crawford.


While his robotics journey required an immense effort and time commitment, totaling some 500 hours, Crawford would not have changed a thing. To him, the experience vividly illustrates how a strong, focused work ethic ultimately pays off as their three-team alliance placed sixth overall.


This was an amazing showing for their small team of 14 members (some large teams had 60-80 members) competing in only their second year. Given the odds, with teams from as far away as Australia, Taiwan, and Hawaii, to be picked for one of the eight alliances was in itself an honour.


“Filling the role as the lead coder for the robotics team surely ranks as my greatest achievement at Maggie,” Crawford said, adding, “Finally seeing a fully functional robot after long hours of hard work was mind boggling.”

Moreover, he derived immense satisfaction from coaching junior coders to solve problems on their own, allowing him to hone his own skills while helping others.


Coach Walker said, “Branson could be a leader if he chose, but he is content following. Self-motivated, he spent many hours learning, writing and debugging code all alone. When I asked him for a coding solution, Branson would either deliver or explain why coding could not solve the problem or find another solution. Clearly, he played a vital role in our club’s success this year.”


Maggie computer science teacher Brett Lantz said, “Branson’s maturity, technical aptitude, and academic record are very impressive. As the lead coder for the robotics team, his outstanding technical skills, creativity, and exceptional ability to communicate his ideas greatly contributed to our team’s success. Branson’s dedication to excellence, coupled with his devotion to service and teamwork, makes him an exemplary role model for all aspiring students."

Crawford’s relentless pursuit of excellence extends to the volleyball court. He has played on the Mustangs boys’ volleyball team all four years at Maggie, the last two on the senior team.


Aside from the fun and lasting friendships, his coach and teammates have taught him “cherished life-long lessons into the importance of self-sacrifice, teamwork and grit to attain a common goal.”


Maggie biology teacher and senior volleyball coach Rich Corrie said, “Branson has an incredibly cheerful disposition and always took on whatever role asked of him. His impressive growth, both physically and mentally, would have garnered him our team’s ‘most improved player’ honors if such an award existed. This growth came from his strong work ethic and positive mindset. A popular and admired teammate, he always gave his best on and off the court.”

Despite his taxing extramural workload, Crawford is firmly committed to scholastics.


His grade average has increased from 89% in Grade 10 to 91% in Grade 11 and 95% in the first semester of Grade 12 while carrying a heavy load of university foundational courses in science and math.


Maggie modern languages teacher Pauline Tinka said, “From the outset, Branson has displayed well-honed interpersonal skills, excellent manners and self-confidence. A self-starter, he has always been keen to apply his French in real-life situations, and often asks questions in class about some colourful language that he learned in a gaming chat. Lastly, Branson’s sense of humor is legendary at Maggie, amusing us with his ‘Joke of the Day’ during morning announcements.”


Crawford’s cites weightlifting as his favorite activity outside school. He “loves all it entails, such as the nutrient-rich diet and the strict and painful program needed to maximize benefit.”


With patience and perseverance, he has seen amazing improvements in both his mental and physical health. In the run up to the FIRST competition, each night he went to the PURE gym at 11 p.m. after an intensive coding session to wind down and relax, a strategy he often uses elsewhere in his life.


For leisure, Crawford absolutely loves the challenge of matching wits with friends in Maggie’s Chess Club with the ultimate triumph occurring when he finally beat a teacher after suffering many defeats. He also enjoys hiking with his mom, either along the KVR trail or at Giant’s Head Mountain.


Crawford has been accepted into the computer science program at UBC Okanagan. Upon completing a one-year co-op program at a tech firm to gain career-related experience, he then wishes to obtain a master’s degree in computer science with a minor in French communications, as a prelude to working abroad and fulfilling his desire to experience different cultures.


In short, this young man surely possesses the core character traits — intelligence, self-discipline, grit and empathy — leading to pursuing a rich and rewarding career while inspiring and enriching the lives of those he encounters along the way.


Penticton Herald - Rotary Student of the Month for January 2023


Marcus Francisco, an exceptionally talented, high-octane driven and deeply altruistic Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School is Rotary Student of the Month for January.


In bestowing SOM honors on Francisco, the Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise praised his inspiring leadership on multiple fronts, stellar achievements in academics, music and robotics, and tireless expert input in the intricate audio-visual installations for many high-profile school events.


First and foremost, Francisco, who is blessed with an insatiable quest for knowledge, is firmly committed to quality education and has always excelled scholastically.


Last year in Grade 11, he recorded an average grade of 96%, achieving the top mark in both chemistry 11 and physics 11, and 94% in the first semester of Grade 12. His course load has always been demanding, featuring a full slate of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-foundational subjects.


“Very thoughtful and kind, Marcus is an amazing role model. He excels in his course work and always strives to inspire creativity in class discussions. When peers need support with academics or leadership events, he is always there to help. As our super tech hero, we will be lost next year without him,” said school counsellor Gerri Hess.


Francisco’s pursuit of excellence extends to music. He plays the lead trumpet in both Maggie’s concert and jazz bands and is learning the saxophone. At home, he plays the piano and loves to sing with his friends. Music is dear to him not only “for enjoyment and relaxation but also as a means to learn new skills, as the more I learn about the basic theory, the more I find to learn.”


Music teacher Stan Sabourin said his pupil has become a pillar of the school’s bands.


“His intellectual curiosity, vision and risk-taking has facilitated his development into an excellent musician. He is a true joy to listen to as the lead trumpet playing in both concert and jazz ensembles. His strong performance, kindness and generosity of time and energy converge to make him an ideal mentor and admired role model,” said Sabourin.


Robotics has played a large part in Francisco’s life since he received a robotics kit for Christmas at age seven.


“I instantly became hooked, assembling and dismantling it many times until it finally broke,” he said.

He is extremely proud of having built a fully functional Iron Man helmet. The three-month-long project required him to learn how to program code, run microcontrollers, weld and apply his technically demanding 3-D modelling skills in CAD (computer-aided design).


An outlet for his love of robotics arose in Grade 9 when Maggie teacher Joshua Walker formed the Penticton Robotics Club. Amazingly, the club captured the 2020 Rookie All-Star Team award at the Pacific Regional FIRST robotics competition held in Victoria in March 2020. Francisco ranks his role in this team award as his greatest achievement as “we had to overcome numerous beginners’ hiccups, but with perseverance each of us found their role and we jelled as a team.”


While Francisco’s leadership feats in academics, music and robotics are indeed impressive, it is his tireless work to lead from behind the scenes that sets him apart.


Notably, as Maggie’s tech crew lead, he has eagerly exploited his consummate technical skillset and lunch-pail work ethic to faithfully oversee the intricate audio/visual set-up required for school dances, band concerts and theatre performances.


He has also helped organize the high-impact 10,000 Tonight and Maggie haunted house fundraisers. This extensive body of vital background work has garnered him the top service award for the past three years. In short, by always being there when and wherever needed, Francisco has been a gift that has kept on giving to the Maggie community.


As yet another feather in his cap, Francisco earned a blue belt in karate in his earlier days. Besides teaching discipline, focus and patience, the training helped him “become more sociable and friendly as well as to develop leadership and public speaking skills,” as he taught karate at age 13.


Given his burning desire to design and build things, it is fitting that upon graduation, Francisco plans to pursue studies in either mechanical or mechatronic engineering (design of computer-controlled electromechanical systems) at either Waterloo, UVic or UBC Okanagan.


Regardless, this personable young man seems destined to carve out a highly productive and rewarding career, while inspiring and enriching the lives of those he meets along the way.


Student of the Month is a Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise project. The award aims to recognize outstanding students for unique achievement in scholastics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership, and service to others. The club is pleased to recognize Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School as project partners and Cascades Casino Penticton for generous financial aid.


The Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise is pleased to kick-off the Student of the Month program for academic year 2022-23 with the selection of Katie Drobe — an immensely gifted, energetic and charming Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School.


This marks the eighth year of the SOM program with Drobe as the 50th recipient.


Drobe loves the vibrant, close-knit family atmosphere at Maggie and cherishes the excellent teachers she has as role models.


“It’s fun getting to know everyone at school,” she said, “especially exchange students and learning about their cultures and home countries.”


Well-coached at home in core life skills promoting self-fulfillment, career success and social obligation, Drobe has excelled in academics and athletics while exploiting her innate leadership ability to organize laudable community fundraising and school-spirit-enhancing activities.


Drobe is passionate, driven and goal-focused with a curiosity-fueled, razor-sharp intellect. Scholastically, she achieved stellar overall average marks of 98.2% in Grade 9 and 96.9% in Grade 10.


Last year, she was chosen as Maggie’s top academic student in Grade 11, recording an average mark of 97.5%.

This top academic award, for which she is rightly proud, is even more remarkable considering that she was carrying a full load of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) courses.


“Katie is an exceptionally mature young person who excels in academics. In Spanish class, she shows a great ability in language learning and often pursues more sophisticated and authentic language use far beyond that required,” said Pauline Tinka, who teaches modern languages at Maggie.


Drobe’s burning desire to do her best extends to athletics.


Two years ago, she quit competitive dancing, a major part of her life up until then, to focus on academics and take up field hockey. She joined the Maggie senior girls’ team in Grade 11 and caught on quickly.


“I am super proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone and working hard to improve at team sports,” Drobe said.

Last year, Drobe organized the Scrunchies for SOWINS fundraiser in support of the South Okanagan Women in Need Society.


To stage the event, she had to first learn how to sew and then teach others how to make the fabric-covered elastic hair ties attractive for selling. After many hours of hard work, the event raised $200 for SOWINS, not to mention spreading student awareness of the societal impact of domestic violence. 


And this fall, Drobe co-organized Maggie’s annual Terry Fox Run, honoring the Canadian hero and broadcasting his underlying message of cancer awareness and perseverance.


“Katie always amazes me with her effort, dedication and thoroughness in anything she pursues,” said Maggie counsellor Gerri Hess, who has taught Katie since Grade 7.


“A key member of our leadership class, she has led various events, and supported others with their initiatives. In academics, she has always strived to do her best and has been a great support for her peers.”


Among Drobe’s hidden talents is her proficiency in infographics that enables her to design both attractive graphic posters for leadership events and creative display formats for classwork.


Outside of school, Drobe enjoys her part-time job at Blenz Coffee shop, and this past summer held three jobs to save money for travelling. (The passion was instilled in her partly by Tinka, her teacher, who is a former Rotary Club exchange student.)


Interestingly, Drobe identifies “believing in myself and overcoming self-doubts/insecurities, especially when learning new skills, as my biggest struggle in life.”


Naturally modest, Drobe is quick to state, “My high grade average is not because academics come easy to me but because I am trying my hardest to set myself up for future success, a core value instilled in me by my father.”


Upon graduation, Drobe plans to undertake biomedical engineering studies at UBC and then embark on a career employing new technology to solve critical health/medical problems.


Pursuit of this stimulating and rewarding career path will be demanding, but if anyone is equipped with the requisite tool-box — intellect, drive, grit and “human touch”— needed to succeed and indeed thrive, it is Katie Drobe.