Marcus Francisco, an exceptionally talented, high-octane driven and deeply altruistic Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School, is Rotary Student of the Month for January.
In bestowing SOM honors on Francisco, the Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise praised his inspiring leadership on multiple fronts, stellar achievements in academics, music and robotics, and tireless expert input in the intricate audio-visual installations for many high-profile school events.
First and foremost, Francisco, who is blessed with an insatiable quest for knowledge, is firmly committed to quality education and has always excelled scholastically. Last year in grade 11, he recorded an average grade of 96 per cent, achieving the top mark in both Chemistry 11 and Physics 11, and 94 per cent in the first semester of Grade 12.
His course load has always been demanding, featuring a full slate of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-foundational subjects.
Counsellor Gerri Hess said, “Very thoughtful and kind, Marcus is an amazing role model. He excels in his course work and always strives to inspire creativity in class discussions. When peers need support with academics or leadership events, he is always there to help. As our super tech hero, we will be lost next year without him.”
Francisco’s pursuit of excellence extends to music. He plays the lead trumpet in both Princess Margaret's concert and jazz bands and is learning the saxophone.
At home, he plays the piano and loves to sing with his friends. Music is dear to him not only “for enjoyment and relaxation but also as a means to learn new skills as the more I learn about the basic theory, the more I find to learn.”
Music teacher Stan Sabourin said: “Blessed with an exceptional skill set, enthusiasm and a strong work ethic, Marcus is a pillar of our music program. His intellectual curiosity, vision and risk-taking has facilitated his development into an excellent musician. He is a true joy to listen to as the lead trumpet playing in both concert and jazz ensembles. His strong performance, kindness and generosity of time and energy converge to make him an ideal mentor and admired role model.”
Robotics has played a large part in Francisco’s life since he received a robotics kit for Christmas at age 7: “I instantly became hooked, assembling and dismantling it many times until it finally broke.” He is extremely proud of having built a fully functional Iron Man helmet. The three-month-long project required him to learn how to program code, run microcontrollers, weld and apply his technically demanding 3D modelling skills in CAD (Computer Aided Design).
An outlet for his love of robotics arose in Grade 9 when his teacher Joshua Walker formed the Penticton Robotics Club.
Amazingly, the club captured the “2020 Rookie All-Star Team” award at the Pacific Regional FIRST robotics competition held in Victoria in March 2020. Francisco ranks his role in this team award as his greatest achievement as “we had to overcome numerous beginners’ hiccups but with perseverance each of us found their role and we jelled as a team.”
Looking back, Walker still vividly recalls Francisco’s exemplary performance: ”While only in Grade 9, Marcus’ intrinsic motivation to learn, problem-solving proficiency and hard work quickly catapulted him into a leadership role. For example, he taught himself pneumatics, enabling us to use pistons on our industrial-sized robot which was surely a major part of our success.”
In the intervening period, Walker has been “blown away by Marcus’ breadth of knowledge and maturity beyond his age and I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes in the years ahead as he moves from conquering high school to conquering the world.”
The robotics club, with Francisco leading the way with his vast experience and well-honed skills, is now busy gearing up for this year’s regional competition in Victoria, with the goal of reaching the podium again and punching a ticket to the World Championships in Houston, TX in April.
While Francisco’s leadership feats in academics, music and robotics are indeed impressive, it is his tireless work to lead from behind the scenes that sets him apart.
Notably, as Princess Margaret's tech crew lead, he has eagerly exploited his consummate technical skill set and lunch-pail work ethic to faithfully oversee the intricate audio/visual set-up required for school dances, band concerts and theatre performances.
He has also helped organize the high-impact 10,000 Tonight and Maggie Haunted House fundraisers. This extensive body of vital background work has garnered him the top service award for the past three years. In short, by always being there when and wherever needed, Francisco has been a gift that has kept on giving to the Maggie community.
English teacher Erica Fitton said, “Hardworking and dedicated, Marcus goes well above and beyond to make a positive impact at our school. Aside from his unparalleled super tech contributions, he is always willing to learn new skills to help others. For example, with little background in videography, he took it upon himself to film and edit music videos in my English First Peoples 12 classes. To top it off, Marcus is humble and prefers to work in the background.”
As yet another feather in his cap, Francisco earned a blue belt in karate in his earlier days. Besides teaching discipline, focus and patience, the training helped him “become more sociable and friendly as well as to develop leadership and public speaking skills” as he taught karate at age 13.
Given his burning desire to design and build things, it is fitting that upon graduation, Francisco plans to pursue studies in either mechanical or mechatronic engineering (design of computer-controlled electromechanical systems) at either Waterloo, UVic or UBC Okanagan.
Regardless, this personable young man, fuelled by a high-performance tool-kit—curiosity-driven intellect, motivation, courage and grit—seems destined to carve out a highly productive and rewarding career, while inspiring and enriching the lives of those he meets along the way.
"Student of the Month" is a Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise project. The award aims to recognize outstanding students for unique achievement in scholastics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership, and service to others. The Club is pleased to recognize Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School as project partners and Cascades Casino Penticton for generous financial aid.