New UBC student Andrew Saitoh had a special reason to return to his old high school this week.
It wasn’t just to see friends and teachers but also to be presented with a very special award.
“It is a very exceptional achievement,” said Whistler Secondary principal Bev Oakley as she presented Saitoh with the bronze Governor General’s Academic Medal on Wednesday, Dec. 19.
Saitoh received the award because he was the Whistler Secondary student with the highest average marks in Grade 11 and 12. The average also takes into account the provincial exams, which is why it is awarded in the fall.
Saitoh gave a short speech in front of the current Grade 12 class. In particular he singled out his teachers and his proud parents, who were on hand for the presentation, for their support over the years.
“This medal means a lot to me,” he said.
The students took the chance to ask Saitoh and a handful of his old classmates who had returned to Whistler for the holidays to ask questions about university life.
Saitoh is in his first year at UBC, studying integrated sciences and math with a goal of possibly working in the field of psychology.
University, he told the high school students, is a “whole new experience.” It’s not just the tougher courses, it’s the time spent doing laundry and cooking that make for an experience far different from high school, he admitted with a rueful smile.
The Governor General’s medals were created in 1873 by Canada’s third Governor General, Lord Dufferin.
For more than 125 years, these academic medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students across Canada.