Pen-High student Eli Grant recognized by Rotary

Eli, Student of the Month

Eli Grant, an immensely gifted, highly motivated and industrious Grade 12 student at Penticton Secondary School, is Rotary Student of the Month for January.  

Grant’s selection is a no brainer as his outstanding accomplishments in multiple endeavors provide a case study of how focus, dedication and drive in the pursuit of excellence can produce astounding results.  He has refined this recipe for success to perfection in both scholastics and sports, garnering Pen High’s most outstanding student and top athletic awards for three years running (grades 9 to 11).   

Firstly, Grant is a brilliant student who is equipped with a curiosity-primed, razor-sharp intellect and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. His academic program has always been extremely demanding, featuring a full slate of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-related subjects.  

Last year’s grade 11 course load included chemistry, physics, pre-calculus and biology, along with French immersion and English at the advanced performance (AP) level, and he achieved an impressive average grade of 96%. This year’s slate, comprising four AP courses, three sciences and French immersion, is even tougher, and his average grade in the first semester remained stellar at 97.5%. 

Grant’s exceptional exploits extend to athletics, both as individual and team pursuits.  An avid cross-country runner since grade 3, he finished 44th in a field of 266 with a time of 17:25 in the 5km course at the XC provincial championship this past fall, contributing to Pen High XC team’s strong showing. 

“Running is a big part of who I am now, providing a great way to de-stress and escape everyday pressures while building self-discipline and grit,” said Grant.  

A versatile athlete, Grant played the starting position of setter on the Pen High volleyball team that finished in the top ten at this year’s provincial finals. He has also played soccer in the Penticton Football Club program since age 5, committing to rigorous off-season training for the past five years. Last spring, he was presented the opportunity to join the South Kootenay soccer team, playing the center back position to help them advance to the club provincials.  

Pen High science teacher and XC coach Josh Heinrich, who is uniquely positioned to evaluate Grant from both academic and athletic perspectives, said, “A finish in the top 50 at XC provincials is a huge accomplishment and indicative of Eli’s incredible work ethic and his ability to push himself to his mental and physical limits. His positive energy and constant encouragement of teammates made a difficult sport much more enjoyable for his team and coaches alike. His academic performance mirrored his athletic one, as Eli often led discussions in the Physics 11 course by asking thought-provoking questions that displayed a deep understanding of course content while working tirelessly to maximize his potential.”    

Music is also a big part of Grant’s life with a love for all styles: classical, pop and jazz. He plays second tenor saxophone in the school jazz band and is studying piano at the Royal Conservatory grade 8 level. He has performed many recitals and concerts and has received awards at the local Kiwanis Music Festival. 

Jan Webb, Grant’s music teacher since age 5, said, “Eli’s strong work ethic and sharp focus on details in practice, a rare combination among students, translate into precision performances. He welcomes constructive criticism in striving for an optimal result and constantly encourages fellow students, both duet partners and ensemble members.” 

It has not always been smooth sailing for Grant, however, as in his youth, he experienced significant anxiety from his own expectations that made it difficult to explore and put himself out there. Much to his credit, he has learned to value the process and outcomes equally and to juggle his commitments carefully so as to optimize his experiences on multiple fronts. In doing so, he has been able to turn a potential stumbling block into a resounding blueprint for success. 

Grant has always enjoyed designing and building things from birdhouses and bookcases to an air-powered marshmallow rifle. This hobby, combined with tour guide duties at nearby Dominion Radio Astrophysical Laboratory, have led him to consider pursuing an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, majoring in aerospace in the fall.  Regardless of his eventual career path, one prediction seems certain. Propelled by an impressive tool-kit of performance-promoting traits – intelligence, grit, drive and self-discipline -- he will assuredly leave, as the global map background in his photo tacitly implies, indelible marks of achievement that reverberate well beyond the storied halls of Pen High.

“Student of the Month” is a Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise initiative.  The award aims to recognize outstanding students for unique achievement in scholastics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership and service to others.

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