By Norman Galimski
One hard-working Fort St. James Secondary School student has been selected to participate in the 2022 SHAD Canada program.
Corbyn Gauthier, Grade 10, will be heading out east to Carleton University in Ottawa, to participate in a month-long STEAM-based (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) program this summer.
The news of Corbyn’s acceptance arrived as a big and happy surprise on his birthday.
However, for his mother Lori Gauthier, the result was not surprising. She knows how much hard work her son has put into studying and achieving top marks.
“As a student, I pay attention … I always try and give it 100 per cent,” Corbyn said.
He is the second student from School District 91 to have had a successful bid.
“It made him quite proud of himself,” his mother said.
SHAD is an annual education program for high-achieving high school students hosted each July by universities across the country. The focus of the program consists of three areas — excellence and leadership, science and technology plus entrepreneurship. Students are hosted in dorms on university campuses for four weeks and follow a curriculum consisting of professor-led classes, recreation and team projects.
Anticipating his big trip, Corbyn is feeling a fifty-fifty mix of excitement and nervousness.
“It’s just something that I’m going to have to experience,” he said.
The program will be an asset that will help Corbyn on many more levels than just education, Lori said.
When Corbyn was young, he was diagnosed with high-functioning autism and, as a result, his social skills are not at the level they could be, she said.
“I think the experience is going to kind of help him flourish and be a bit more independent in having to do things, [such as] ask for help himself, and also to meet like-minded kids too. So that’s what I’m looking forward to about it,” she said.
The cost of attending the program is covered by a bursary, but other expenses such as travel, a required business suit and deposit are not. Those extras add up to about $2,000.
Despite the added financial challenges, their family and community have stepped up to help.
The Fort St James Community Foundation, Nak’azdli Whut’en and his aunt and uncle all jumped in to help.
The foundation and Nak’azdli Whut’en helped secure funding, including a $500 grant, while his uncle, Clayton Gauthier, an artist, donated two hand-crafted drums while his aunt, Deborah Prince, donated a pair of elk antler earrings and a beaded necklace for a raffle to help raise funds for the trip.
The raffle will take place on June 21 at the Indigenous Peoples Day celebration scheduled at Cottonwood Park in Fort St James.
Editor’s note: Corbyn is the second alumni from SD91 to participate in the SHAD Canada program. The Courier has updated the story to reflect that fact.
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