They're kids with attitude.
And that's why on Thursday in London they were award winners.
Five Thames Valley District school board secondary students from St. Thomas and Elgin were among 32 Grade 12s from throughout the London-based school district who were feted for having the attitude it takes to hurdle obstacles in the way of success in school and life.
Some have faced physical or developmental challenge; others, events in their home lives which have threatened to overtake them.
"It sure puts everything in perspective when after you hear what all of these great kids have overcome," says Laurie Lafraniere, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation District 11 office manager.
The 32 students were recipients of OSSTF District 11-sponsored McTavish awards, an annual event established in 1973 to honour the memory of a respected, former London educator, Ernie McTavish.
His own life presented him with challenge when he was left a single father juggling a career and a young family of three children following the sudden death of his wife.
From St. Thomas and Elgin, recipients are:
- Eileen Boudreau, Arthur Voaden Secondary School;
- Farrell Weir, Central Elgin Collegiate Institute;
- Corey DeVries, Parkside Collegiate Institute;
- Whitney Archer, East Elgin Secondary School;
- Teresa Nesic, West Elgin Secondary School.
Eileen Boudreau is a peer mentor and Best Buddy to students in Arthur Voaden's special education program. With her graduation from AVSS, she's studying to become a personal support worker.
"Eileen is one of the hardest-working and most persistent students that can be found anywhere," her nomination reads.
Farrell Weir is completing his final year at Central Elgin, where he's participated fully in school life -- including swim team, wrestling team, drama club and chess club -- and as a volunteer in the community including at the YWCA and Pearce Williams camps, in spite of his visual impairment.
He plans postsecondary study as a child and youth worker.
"Corey DeVries represents I told you so' to the nth degree," states his nomination.
Born with cerebral palsy, DeVries has refused to allow his disability take charge of his life. He's earned his Ontario secondary school diploma and intends to return to Parkside next year in preparation for college, where he wants to study video game and graphic design.
Outside of school, he works in the office at Talbotville Livestock Exchange, and plays hockey with the Canadian Electric Wheelchair Hockey Association.
He's currently is a co-op student in the constituency office of Elgin- Middlesex-London Conservative MP Joe Preston.