Almonte Lions Club announces the 2021 “Joy of Effort” award winners

The Robert Tait McKenzie Awards are unique in the province of Ontario. They represent a long history of partnership between Almonte District High School and the Almonte Lions Club.

For 55 consecutive years, we have joined together to celebrate the wonderful community in which we live, the life and legacy of Robert Tait McKenzie and most importantly, to celebrate the skills, talents, and hard work of a truly exceptional group of graduates!  This year there were nine finalists.

Finalists were identified in recognition of their exemplary contributions to school life, academic excellence, volunteer service and leadership in the greater community. These are the qualities and ideals which McKenzie himself modelled, and are represented on the Joy of Effort plaque which hangs outside the main office of ADHS. Every one of the finalists has the potential to change our world for the better.  The whole community should be proud of these young people, their families, and the school community which has nurtured their development.

For many of us, fond memories of our years in high school, and the big parties and celebrations that accompanied our graduation, are milestones that initiated our adult lives.  Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, this graduation class of 2021 has endured two years of school interruption, (or closure); been challenged to achieve academic goals, through at-home independent learning; faced a total absence of extracurricular and co-curricular sports, clubs, teams, music and drama; and suffered reduced or curtailed social interaction. What a year to be graduating! We can only imagine the challenges of achieving excellence in this environment.

The nine finalists have all shown remarkable resilience, determination, and strength of character, as they have continued to excel, and serve our community, despite the restrictions imposed. We must also recognize the outstanding staff at ADHS who have encouraged, supported, and nurtured all students through these last two very difficult years. We are truly blessed to call Mississippi Mills home!

The two students selected as scholarship winners this year are Grace Hill and Parker Deugo. Grace and Parker will each be awarded a $2000.00 scholarship. Each of the other seven finalists, Willow Franklin, Lilian Gray, Nathaniel Lowry, Kayleigh Vallier, Haley Wagorn, Ruby Watters, and Portia Whelan, will receive a $100.00 bursary in recognition that all nine are R. Tait McKenzie Award winners for 2021.

We invite the entire community to take great pride in the accomplishments of these fine young people.  In the absence of a formal awards ceremony again this year, we ask everyone to express their personal congratulations when you encounter them in the months ahead.  Our world, as it enters the post Covid-19 challenges, will need the strength, heart, and soul of these talented young adults.

Congratulations and best wishes!

 Bob Bassett, on behalf of the selection committee