OLB valedictorian eyes post-pandemic future


A lawyer, a teacher, or maybe something in the arts; The 2022 valedictorian at Our Lady of the Bay Catholic High School is keeping her options open after graduation.

For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood, we spoke with Emily Lawrence, 18, valedictorian of Notre Dame de la Baie for 2022.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up in Wasaga Beach.

I was at Our Lady of the Bay all of high school, but went to elementary school at St. Noel Chabanel in Wasaga Beach, except for two years I took an extended French program at Admiral Collingwood.

Q: You have been promoted to valedictorian at the OLB this year. Can you tell me about the process?

A: I still can’t believe it.

It is above all a student vote. We had a grad breakfast, and the people who wanted to be valedictorian gave a two-minute speech over the breakfast to convince people to vote for them. Then everyone voted via a Google forum, and the teachers and principal also had their say.

Q: Do you participate in extracurricular activities?

A: Yes. I’ve always tried to stay as busy as possible.

This year, I scored the basketball and volleyball teams. I was in the badminton club. I was also in the play we did this year. I do the morning announcements every day.

Before COVID-19 started, I was able to do a lot more.

I’ve been on social justice committees, chaplaincy teams, mass server.

I was on the basketball team in 9th grade, but we haven’t had one since.

For my city, I was on the Wasaga Beach Youth Advisory Committee. I chaired that for a while.

Q: What has your student experience been like during COVID-19?

A: It’s interesting.

For my graduating class in particular, it hit us in a special way because we had a year and a half of normal high school and then the rest went through the pandemic.

When there were confinements, it was quite an experience, but not at the same time. It was a whole new event for the whole world, but it was also just us sitting in front of our computers at home trying to pay attention to Zoom calls.

Everyone was dealing with their own (circumstances) at home, like internet connectivity. I’m always the person who writes the tests until the last minute, so when there were internet problems, it could cause quite a bit of stress.

Q: How do you feel about approaching post-secondary education, after going through this unique pandemic experience? Do you feel ready?

A: I am very happy that we were able to be in person for our last year. I think it helped me prepare a little better.

However, we did not have senior exams. They were canceled this year and last year.

Senior exams are generally more difficult and longer. When we enter university or college, we will not have experienced this format. (I’m worried) we’ll have to do them multiple times.

It’s a little annoying in that sense.

At this point, after going through everything we have, the aspect of being away from home might also be more difficult because we’ve all been so home.

In terms of maturity, I think the pandemic has helped us a lot more to mature and deal with things on our own.

Q: What are your post-secondary plans?

A: For my undergrad, I go to Western University in their social studies program.

Q: What are your long term goals?

A: At this point, I’m trying to keep my options open.

I’m majoring in history for my undergrad. From there, I was able to continue teaching history at the university level. Also, history is one of the recommended undergraduate programs for law schools. I could end up becoming a lawyer.

Or, I could choose to pursue my dreams and pursue a career in the arts. Who knows?

Q: What part of the arts are you interested in?

A: I like all the arts. I have one foot in everything so it’s hard for me to decide what I like the most. I’ve been involved in music since I was a kid. I like to play, draw and write. If I had a career in the arts, I would probably try to do everything.

Q: Do you have any advice for students in lower grades?

A: My brother is four years older than me and when I started high school he gave me advice that I wish I had listened to more.

He told me to try to be social and show myself, because I can be shy.

I would have liked to reach more people and try to make more friends. I think it’s an easy trap to fall into the fact that when you go to high school, you stay with the people you went to elementary school with and only occasionally talk to other people. When grades 10 and 11 rolled around, people had found their groups of friends.

I love my groups of friends, but there are people I haven’t talked to much and don’t know very well. It’s a bit disappointing when you’ve spent four years with them.

Also, don’t stand in the middle of the hallway. It’s a big problem. (Laughs)

Q: Is there anything else you would like the people of Collingwood to know about you?

A: I grew up in my city, but I came here to go to school here.

In a way, I spent my most formative years here and always tried to be the best person I could be.

This is what I will (continue) to try to do after graduation.

For our People of Collingwood feature, we’ll speak with interesting people who are part of, or contribute to, the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature will work on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you would like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email [email protected]


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