Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School graduate Lauren Sortome just found out she has won the coveted Governor General’s Bronze Medal for her outstanding academic achievements.
School principal Vic Brett presented the medal to Lauren at PSO on Aug. 29, only days before she left 100 Mile House to attend the University of Victoria.
“I met her at the school, congratulated her and told her that after all of her provincial exams, her average was 95.6 per cent. It’s amazing; she did 18 senior-level courses, which is way more than she needed to graduate.
Brett explains there was much more to Lauren’s accomplishments than just academics.
Noting she was the co-valedictorian for the grad class, he says Lauren was a member of the peer counselling group, a leader in the school with the leadership class and a math tutor.
“She really was the heart and soul of this school last year, and gave her time freely to others.”
He adds Lauren didn’t just walk away with the prestigious medal, as there were five other grads who were within a single percentage point of each other at the time of the graduation ceremonies. They all had to wait for the results of the provincial exams to see who would come away with it.
Lauren says she is extremely pleased she won the Governor General’s medal, but notes it was a very tight competition with the other five students – Kristy Bock, Andrea Zemanek, Debrah Zemanek, Alicia Briggs and Ben Bedford.
She adds the difference between her and the next nearest student was a mere .07 per cent.
“I don’t know how we all did it. We all worked incredibly hard.”
Noting all five girls were from the French Immersion program, Lauren says they have come through school together.
“We’ve been together for ever; we know each other so well and I think we passed our work ethics on to each other. So, I think it helped us bring our marks up because we competed against each other.”
Lauren also speaks highly of her whole grad class, saying it was extremely talented and strong in so many areas.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact we all love school and have put a lot of passion into it.”
She explains that winning the medal meant all of her hard work paid off.
“I would work so hard during the year and start to feel a bit burned out and wonder why I’m doing it, so it’s nice to have a reward at the end of it. I guess it’s a concrete representation of how much I love learning.
“My mom was so proud and I lost my dad about a month ago and she said, ‘I just wish your dad was here to see this because he would be so proud of you’. So it is hard to have that and have him not be here.”
Lauren adds her teachers also played a large role in the success of the students.
“PSO has the most unbelievably caring and respectful teachers. They are so supportive, and with Mr. Brett at the top of it, they create such a wonderful opportunity for learning.”
Lauren is off to the University of Victoria and is taking biology and psychology. She wants to go to med school.
“I want to become a doctor and work in pediatric palliative care. My dream job is in Ottawa at Rogers Place Palliative Care…. You’re not trying to save them; you’re just trying to make the time they have as valuable as it can be.”
Lauren says she chose Victoria because it is so “beautiful” and because she is really interesting in rowing.
While she was asked to try out for the varsity rowing team, Lauren says the coach said she couldn’t do more than 15 hours of school, but she will be doing 26 hours a week. Therefore, she will row recreationally.
Lauren says she will be coming back to 100 Mile for Christmas and, hopefully, the summers.
“Just to spend time with my mom, and with losing dad, it made me realize how valuable the time is I have with her. My brother, mom and I have become pretty close and my family means a lot to me, so I’m sure I’ll be coming back.
“I also love 100 Mile; I think it’s great. It’s cute and I love knowing everybody in town.”