The Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise recently rang in the New Year by recognizing Krystal Bhandhal, a scholarly, high-octane driven, and altruistic Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School, as Rotary Student of the Month for January.
Endowed with outstanding scholastic and leadership abilities, Bhandhal is hardwired to excel both in and out of the classroom. This rare combination of high-performance qualities, fuelled by a goal-oriented and socially responsible mindset, make this charismatic young lady a no brainer for SOM honours. In short, she epitomizes Maggie’s defining core values: accountability, integrity, and respect.
Enrolled in Maggie’s leadership program since grade 9, Bhandhal has shown an unwavering dedication to enhancing the social fabric of the cohesive student body. Accordingly, she has eagerly participated in numerous school activities devoted to laudable charitable causes and team-bonding exercises. These include two previous large-scale fundraisers -- Haunted House in support of the Youth Foundry Penticton centre and MD Bus Pull for the Canadian Muscular Dystrophy Society.
Bhandhal has been a workhorse in organizing school-spirit-promoting events featuring Christmas and Halloween traditions and last year led the Teacher Appreciation Day. Last month, she co-chaired, with classmate Mantoj Tiwana, Maggie’s role in the Penticton Provides campaign.
The high-profile, city-wide event, held jointly with Pen Hi, collected 18,800 non-perishable food items, 2,270 toys and $18,840 in donations, thus making this major Christmas fundraiser to help our most vulnerable families, a smashing success.
Leadership teacher Gerri Hess spoke on Bhandhal an amazing role model.
"She is extremely focused and sets herself to a high standard, always working diligently to achieve her goals. As the consummate student leader, she is considerate of others and is respectful and open-minded when dealing with those of differing perspectives.”
Bhandhal organised last year’s school-wide blood donation drive for Canadian Blood Services, illustrating her dedication to community service.
“Aside from seeing the heartwarming impact that donating blood has on people’s lives, the event opened my eyes to how my leadership skills can be leveraged to advance worthy causes,” she said.
Bhandhal answered her call to civic duty by participating in the 2020 Miss Penticton Program. Sadly, the COVID-19 outbreak forced its cancellation after only of few months into the training sessions, denying her the chance to follow her aunt, Gagan Chahal-Saran, who won the Miss Penticton title in 2005-2006.
During this training period, however, she was able to develop life skills aimed to teach public speaking, inspire self-esteem and promote community involvement.
Her biology teacher, Rich Corrie said, “Highly motivated and extremely hard working, Krystal takes great pride in her learning experience and is one of our top academic students. She is a wonderful, caring and inspiring young lady who is held in the highest regard by teachers and peers alike.”
Modern language teacher Pauline Tinka concurred, adding, “Krystal’s genuine desire to learn, coupled with an understated sense of humor, makes her a pleasure to have in class.”
Always keen to pursue a new learning experience, Bhandhal was one of the editors of last year’s yearbook, requiring her to meet deadlines and communicate clearly.
School Principal Roger Wiebe, said, “Krystal had never worked with that level of design before, nor had she ever undertaken a task that required such a high level of organization, planning, and execution. She eagerly learned new skills and met her deadlines, and in the end helped produce an excellent product. She is a quiet yet fervent leader who is exemplary in the many difficult tasks she willingly takes on.”
Following her expressed goal “to take full advantage of Maggie’s amazing offerings”, Bhandhal has been a part of the Mustang’s girls field hockey team, teaching her to self-sacrifice and cooperate to reach a common goal. She also served as stage manager for Maggie’s musical production of Beauty and the Beast in grade 10.
Despite her demanding extramural workload, Bhandhal sets aside, without fail, “the quality time needed to fully indulge in academic studies,” especially in her favourite science subjects. Last year, she achieved an impressive grade average of 94 per cent while carrying a full slate of challenging core courses comprising Chemistry 11, Physics 11, Pre-calculus 11, French 11, Law 12, Creative Writing (English) 11 and Life Sciences (Biology) 11. Receiving the top mark in the last two subjects was especially gratifying.
Importantly, Bhandhal also garnered top overall student honours in grade 11, capping off a superb year. This coveted award for all-round achievement must have had special meaning for her grandmother, Harkesh Bhandhal – her enduring role model and faithful source of motivation and inspiration.
From age 3-14, Bhandhal trained mainly in ballet but also did other dance styles, such as tap and jazz, at the Okanagan Dance Studio, entering in numerous Kiwanis Festival competitions. This dance experience taught her the importance of being well-organized, committed and goal-oriented – valuable life skills that she still draws upon today to manage her busy agenda.
Given her hectic schedule, it is not surprising that Bhandhal identified time management as her greatest challenge. By finding creative ways to optimize her study time and setting stretch but realistic academic goals, she has been able to meet her high expectations and still have valued time for family and friends.
Born and raised in Penticton, Bhandhal has always appreciated growing up here in a tight-knit family with many close long-time friends and understands the importance of giving back to such a warm and welcoming community. After volunteering at children’s summer day camps previously, last summer she worked as a Boys & Girls Club Recreation Leader planning and running summer activities for kids aged 7-10. She enjoys being a role model for young children and “inspire them to make good decisions and be kind and inclusive at all times.”
Guided by a fervent desire to improve the health and wellness of others, especially children, as her overarching mission in life, it is fitting that upon graduation, Bhandhal plans to obtain a BSc (Biology) degree as a first step towards pursuing studies in medicine and an eventual rewarding career in pediatrics.