Penticton Rotary names Student of the Month

Student of the Month named

Penticton Sunrise Rotary Club is delighted to launch its Student of the Month program for academic year 2021/22 with the selection of Sabrina Zheng, a highly intelligent, industrious, and altruistic Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School, as Rotary SOM for October.

Zheng is being recognized for her steadfast pursuit of academic excellence and unwavering commitment to spearheading laudatory leadership activities ranging from highlighting global warming to promoting school collegiality.

Zheng, endowed with an inquisitive, razor-sharp intellect and an indefatigable work ethic, is hardwired to excel in the classroom. This expectation has been realized in spades as she achieved the top mark in numerous academic courses in each of her previous three years at Maggie. Last year she received the top academic award for grade 11, achieving an average mark of 95%. This stellar performance is even more noteworthy, given her demanding course load featuring a full slate of university-prerequisite subjects including chemistry, physics, pre-calculus, and biology, along with English, French, law and psychology.

Zheng’s outstanding scholastic record, which she ranks as one of her proudest achievements at Maggie, is no accident. Home schooled to focus on quality education, Zheng regards the academics as the most enjoyable aspect of school life, adding, “Although stressful and overwhelming sometimes, I really enjoy the busy rush of being a student and aspire to take full advantage of the opportunity.”

Well-rounded and mature beyond her years, Zheng firmly believes a strong work ethic holds the key to completing any difficult task and regards failures, while momentarily challenging, as ‘invaluable learning bumps’ along the road to achieving a productive and rewarding career.

Science teacher Dyanne Niedbala said: “Sabrina is a diligent student whose painstaking work and natural aptitude for learning have enabled her to excel academically. Well-spoken and personable, Sabrina has strong communicative and interpersonal skills that allow her to shine in group settings.” French teacher Pauline Tinka concurred, adding, “Sabrina elevates the standard of work of any class that she is in and possesses a genuine desire to learn.”

Zheng and her family moved here from Vancouver in the summer before she entered Maggie. Reserved by nature, she understandably experienced some nostalgia leaving behind her extended family and friends and having to adapt to a new school in a smaller, less culturally diverse community.

By Grade 10, however, she became more comfortable in Maggie’s welcoming and supportive environment and joined the leadership class. Since then, she has become a mainstay of the program, toiling tirelessly to either lead events that she is passionate about or strongly support those of her peers, while quietly inspiring others to be activists for positive change.

Last year Zheng co-organized, with classmate Nadia Wojcik, Maggie’s inaugural Earth Week, which was held in conjunction with global Earth Day on April 22 in a passionate effort to highlight the serious challenges humanity faces in addressing climate change. Events to mark the occasion included walk or bike to school, blue and green shirt days, lights out day, and a bottle drive with proceeds going towards planting flowers at the school entrance. The co-organizers plan to hold this high-profile event again this coming April and involve the entire community in the activities.

Zheng and Wojcik also teamed up to lead this fall’s Grade 9 orientation. Zheng conducted six assemblies for the Grade 9 and 10 students, drawing her out of her comfort zone which led her to modestly remark, “Speaking in front of large crowds is not my thing.”

One of Zheng’s truly novel leadership initiatives, dubbed the Kindness Wall, features individualized, thoughtful notes for every single student, with inspirational quotes, illustrating that Maggie, as a community, cares about each and every person.

Maggie counsellor Gerri Hess said, “Sabrina, who is held in the highest regard by staff and peers alike, is very deserving of this award. A workhorse in our leadership group, she is an amazing role model, radiating kindness and always maintaining a positive demeanor, and is a born leader…kind, thoughtful, organized, thorough, and well-spoken. Finally, Sabrina is able to balance her demanding leadership activities and still maintain incredible scholastic grades.”

Vice-Principal Marci Butler said, “I have observed Sabrina blossom as a learner and a leader. Her outstanding marks are a product of her maturity, lunch-pail work ethic, and self-motivation. As a leader, she often works hard behind the scenes, quiet and confident, oblivious to recognition.”

Indicative of her caring nature, Zheng has been a youth volunteer at the Penticton Regional Hospital since 2019, presently assisting patients at the medical imaging desk.

“Courteous and considerate, Sabrina is very knowledgeable and kind with the public/staff and always helpful in training new youth volunteers,” said Annette Zakall, Volunteer Services co-ordinator at PRH.

Zheng’s other activities include working at the family-owned restaurant, Penticton Buffet. During quiet moments, she enjoys relaxing with family and friends, trying new food, and playing the piano, having enrolled in lessons at age six and reaching the Royal Conservatory grade 10 level.

Upon graduation, Zheng plans to undertake BSc studies in the health sciences as a gateway to medical school with the eventual goal of practicing family medicine in Vancouver. Following this demanding and rewarding career path seems well within the reach of this immensely gifted, ambitious and compassionate young lady.

More Penticton News