Two new First Nations role models were crowned during a recognition ceremony and banquet held at Williams Lake secondary, June 8.
The female role model for 2011 is Talia Baptiste, a Grade 11 student at Williams Lake secondary and member of Tsi Del Del (Alexis Creek) Band.
The male role model for 2011 is Damion Alphonse, a Grade 8 student at Williams Lake secondary and member of the Tl’etinqox (Anaham) Band.
Seven School District 27 students applied for and were considered for the role model positions in a lengthy adjudication process that involved input from many different judges, said master of ceremonies Joan Gentles.
Gentles said that while two students will serve as official role models for the coming year, all of the students recommended for the honour are role models in their own right.
They have all chosen healthy lifestyles and are striving to do well in school.
Michelle Myers is a Grade 11 honour roll student at Columneetza secondary and a proud member of Xeni Gwet’in First Nation.
Sheyanne Setah-Turatus is a Grade 9 honour roll student at Columneetza secondary and a proud member of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation.
Micheile Solomon is a Grade 10 student at Williams Lake secondary and a proud member of Tl’esqox (Toosey) Band.
Shaylene Charleyboy is a proud member of the Tl’etinqox (Anaham) Band and Grade 10 student at Alexis Creek elementary/junior secondary on the honour roll and work ethic lists.
Dayna Lloyd is a Grade 12 honour roll student at Columneetza and is proud of her Metis heritage.
Talia and Damion are taking over as First Nation role models from Wacey Alphonse and Sherry Hance who presented their successors with their head dresses in a ceremony which included traditional smudging, presentation of certificates and a blanket for each of them. The new role models presented book marks with their pictures on them to everyone in the audience and all of the role model nominees participated in a blanket dance to collect donations to help with activities of the role models during the coming year.
Even though the Canucks were playing Boston in Vancouver on that night, a total of $248.71 was collected in the blanket for the role model program. Each of the role models and nominees also received a role model jacket.
In his nomination paper WLSS teacher Vic Dueck said Damion is a positive role model not only for First Nations students, but for all students at WLSS. He has a warm and friendly personality. He is a gentleman and is respectful towards all, regardless of gender, age, or race.
As a Grade 8 student at WLSS, Damion’s teachers say he does the best he can in school which he finds fun, entertaining and very exciting. His favourite classes are film, television, drama and theatre.
He enjoys sports and prides himself in being a good sport. Currently he participates in karate classes.
Teacher Lynn Capling said she appreciates Damion’s kind and inclusive behaviour towards other students in the classroom. When they do group work, she says Damion is willing to work with everyone, including the students that others try to avoid working with.
For this reason, she says Damion is already a role model in her classroom. She believes that his maturity, kindness and attitude towards school make him a good role model candidate.
Damion lives a healthy lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol and is very proud to be a non-smoker. He watches the way he eats and is always polite and keeps himself looking at the brighter side of things.
He strives to be a leader who is humble, generous, and kind, and sets good examples and persuades others to do the right thing.
Damion is also keenly aware of his First Nations culture. He says that his culture always teaches him to hold his head high and to keep moving forward — all while respecting everyone equally.
Talia is on the Grade 11 honour roll at WLSS.
She enjoys sports and is on the senior girl’s school soccer team and on the family ball team. She is also an active volunteer spending time as an in-school mentor with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters In-School Mentoring Program; working on the school yearbook; serving as a Challenge Day student leader; and peer helper with the Beauty From the Inside Out program. She is also a member of the City of Williams Lake Youth Council where she is thankful for the opportunity to gain greater knowledge about local government systems through active participation.
She is also in the process of becoming the First Nations Youth Director for recreation for the City and Cariboo Regional District.
On top of all this she holds down two part-time jobs.
WLSS principal Silvia Dubray says Talia is a fantastic choice for female role model as she is a thoughtful, respectful and helpful individual.
Talia believes that being a role model means having the characteristics of honesty, leadership, achievement, trust, respect for oneself and others, a healthy life style, willingness to learn, make positive choices and having interest in your traditional culture.
Being a role model is to be a good example, she says. It’s not the same as being perfect. Rather it is about acknowledging your imperfections, sharing what you are good at, and being honest about mistakes and admitting things you are not very good at.
Talia is proud to be smoke, drug and alcohol free. she listens to her elders and enjoys spending time with them. She values the summers spent with her grandparents who tell her stories of her culture. She also attends Chilcotin language classes in school where she is learning her language and how to bead.