Voted by her peers to be this year's Princess Margaret Secondary School Valedictorian, Kyla Finlayson is Rotary Student of the month for May.
In school, Kyla loves the sciences, with biology being her favorite course. However, since she finished her grade 12 science courses a year early, she is sad not to take any of these courses this year. Given that her overall average is currently at 99, she seems to enjoy the other courses in the curriculum as well.
Outside school, Kyla loves music. She has been playing classical piano since she was 5, and added the violin because she loved the sound. She learned to play saxophone in grade 6 & 7, and switched to Art and Drama for the remaining of her high school. However, when the Jazz Band came to her this year because they needed a piano player, she couldn't say no.
"Finding the time for the two Jazz Band practices/week with all my other activities, including being a peer-mentor to grade 9 students was challenging, but I still could do it. I enjoy doing a lot of things so I have to plan and manage my time to still have time to hang out with friends".
Last summer, Kyla participated in an award-winning enrichment and entrepreneurship program called SHAD. The program empowers exceptional high school students to make the world a better place.
Every July, about 900 of Canada's best and brightest come together to experience the program's unique experiential-learning rooted in the STEAM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics).
The program is looking for students who are well-rounded, emerging leaders who demonstrate initiative, creativity and entrepreneurial flair. They are leaders in their schools, volunteers in their communities, and are often gifted musicians, artists and athletes.
Kyla found the application process strenuous and is proud of having been selected.
She was inspired by this program and gained self-confidence in her own capabilities, coming back to lead even more activities in her school and community.
Kyla is the co-leader of the Global Awareness Group at the school. One of the projects sponsored by the school is financial support for an orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania. The program is called "Raise the Roof", and Kyla organized a very successful event last January to support the cause: a show at the Cannery Brewing Company that featured the band "Sing'N Swing".
Kyla had started a pottery club at the school this year. Under her guidance, the group made over 70 handcrafted soup bowls. Kyla put the band and the soup bowls concept together and called the night "Soup and Swing". People could purchase a bowl of African soup, keep the soup bowl and hear a great swing band.
"The event was a big hit! People really enjoyed the music, food and company. Not only did we raise significant money for the cause, but people had a really nice night out" (Don Grant, Music/Planning teacher).
Kyla also spearheaded the "10,000 Tonight" community food drive that took place in December. In total, the two high schools collected over 13,000 food items in one night. Kyla was responsible for all aspects of the undertaking including working with leadership students at Pen High, coordinating with Skaha Lake Middle School and recruiting volunteers from Maggie.
"The most satisfying part of my involvement was to see the outcome. Bringing all the food items to the Food Bank, and seeing how it would help others, filled me with joy".
"Kyla is a tremendously hard working student who has made a difference in her school community this year "(Sandra Richardson, Vice-Principal and Leadership teacher).
Kyla wants to pursue a career in the medical field. She has already been accepted at three Canadian universities. This interest lead Kyla to volunteer in the community as a candy striper at the hospital and at Trinity Seniors Center. She enjoys interacting with the seniors, playing bingo and shuffleboard, and just being there for them.
Notwithstanding all her accomplishments, Kyla is humble and will say that she is not naturally good at most things. "It doesn't come easy for me. I work really hard to achieve my goals".
An example to follow? Absolutely!
"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.