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Emily Liu honoured as 2021 Hunting Hills High School Valedictorian

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Hunting Hills Valedictorian looks to pursue career in the medical field

This year has been like no other for the Graduating Class of 2021, but the valedictorian at Hunting Hills High School is not letting the pandemic stop her from achieving her goals.

Grade 12 student Emily Liu has been named this year’s Valedictorian at Hunting Hills High School.

“It’s an incredible honour to be named valedictorian. I was very proud of myself when I learned that I was going to be this year’s valedictorian,” she said. “In Grade 9 when I first received the honour of being the top academic student in my class, that really came as a huge shock to me because I always knew I performed well in school, but I never imagined I could be the top academic student. After that, it was something that I was really inspired to work towards, and it’s kept me motivated ever since.”

Emily added when she reflects on her high school experience, she could never have predicted we would be in the midst of a global pandemic.

“I don’t know if it necessarily took away from my high school experience, but it’s definitely hindered me in my day-to-day life whether it’s trying to pay attention during online school, or being able to hang out with my friends,” she said.

Graduation ceremonies for Hunting Hills High School will take place on June 25 at the Centrium. The day will include staggered ceremonies with three groups of graduates at a time in compliance with Alberta Health Services guidelines.

Emily said her message to fellow graduates is one they can carry into the future.

“If there’s one thing that this pandemic has taught me it’s that the relationships we have in our lives are so incredibly precious. When your only way of communicating with your friends or your family is through a screen or a phone call, there’s aspects of simple physical interaction that you really can’t get through in an online medium,” she said. “We need to treasure the relationships we have in our lives, maybe a little more. It may be a little clichè, but you really don’t appreciate what you have in your life until they are gone.”

Looking to the future, Emily said she hopes to soon be able to explore the world once restrictions allow. She has also been accepted to the University of Alberta.

“I’m going to study biochemistry. It’s one of my hopes to pursue a career in the medical field in the future,” she said, adding her volunteer work has given her an interest in that field. “I have been volunteering at the Red Deer Hospital for the past four years, and I’ve also been volunteering as a piano player at the Red Deer Hospice. I think my time at the hospital and hospice has been really enriching in the way that I am able to interact with people and learn more about people’s lives and maybe provide them some kind of comfort or support when they are in a really vulnerable moment.”

Christine Chappell, Vice Principal at Hunting Hills High School, said she is proud of Emily’s achievements.

“An accomplished pianist, community volunteer, and HHHS Leadership student, Emily possesses an incredible work ethic. In every endeavour, whether it be academics or extracurricular activities, she embodies kindness, determination, and tenacity,” she said. “Along with excelling in academics, Emily has completed her Grade 10 Piano with First Class Honours (Royal Conservatory). As a Leadership student, she has dedicated countless hours to our Bikeathon, Enviro Club and school activities. HHHS is honoured to recognize Emily as our 2021 Valedictorian and Governor General’s Medal recipient.”

RDPolytech Athletics

Red Deer Polytechnic Athletics announces Harrison as Queens Basketball Head Coach

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Red Deer Polytechnic Athletics has named Avery Harrison the new head coach of the Queens Basketball program.

“We are extremely excited to add Avery to the Red Deer Polytechnic coaching staff. He brings decades of experience, a proven championship mindset, and the ability to harness the potential in each student-athlete,” says Randy Stewart, Manager Athletics and Student Life. “In addition to being an excellent coach and mentor, Avery has the innate ability to develop a winning culture and to be successful at the highest level.”

The five-time Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year has helped to guide his teams to five ACAC Championships and three Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) titles over 23 years as a head coach in the league. Harrison has led his teams to the national championships 10 times, which is the most for an ACAC Women’s Basketball Head Coach. Harrison was also an ACAC Assistant Coach for 11 years.

In this role, Harrison worked with legendary SAIT Trojans Head Coach Phil Allen, who is an ACAC Hall of Fame Coach and a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, and a major influence on Harrison’s coaching career. Together, they led the Trojans to four ACAC Championships and one CCAA gold medal.

Harrison has had post-secondary coaching stints at Mount Royal College, Lethbridge College, SAIT, and most recently at Olds College from 2017 to 2020. During his tenure in Olds, Harrison built the Broncos into both ACAC and CCAA Champions in 2019.

With Harrison’s leadership, 46 of his players have earned spots on ACAC All-Conference teams and 12 student-athletes have been recognized as All-Canadians.

Harrison is looking forward to coaching and sharing his expertise with the Queens, who qualified for last year’s playoffs for the first time since 2009/2010.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to join the Red Deer Polytechnic Queens Basketball program as their new head coach,” he says. “We have a great mixture of veterans and I think one of our first goals is to establish a winning culture in our locker room. We need to create an on-court identity that the team can be proud of, so we can go out and give our best effort every night.”

This past season, the Red Deer Polytechnic Queens (7-9) finished fifth in the south and then were downed by the Medicine Hat College Rattlers in a playoff division quarter-final.

Looking to the 2022/2023 season, the returning players and new recruits will all benefit from Harrison’s leadership.

One key returning student-athlete to the Queens is Amy Szymanek, who has been a leader on the team and within RDP Athletics. The team MVP and co-chair of the Polytechnic’s Student-Athletes Advisory Council (SAAC) is entering her fourth season. She led the Queens with 15.1 points per game last year. The Bachelor of Education student’s talent, leadership, work ethic, and impact on the game resulted in a 2022 ACAC Women’s Basketball Second All-Conference team selection. Sophie Melin (12.6 points per game), Lauren France (10.6), Heena Sidhu (7.7), and Keanna Richards (6.1) are also expected to return for the 2022/2023 season.

Harrison will immediately step into his head coaching duties at the Polytechnic.

More information about Queens Basketball, including the roster and schedule, will be available in the fall at: rdpolytechathletics.ca.

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Conference inspires local Indigenous youth to become future leaders

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More than one hundred Indigenous youth from Red Deer Public Schools and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools took part in a conference that allowed them to learn, connect, and be inspired by Indigenous leaders in their community.

The Inspiring Success Youth Conference, sponsored by We Matters, took place on May 10 at Red Deer Polytechnic.

Grade 8 students from across both school divisions had the opportunity to meet new friends who they will attend high school with, reconnect with peers in their current school, and build a deeper sense of strength, belonging, identity, and pride in their Indigenous heritage.

“We were very excited to bring this opportunity to Indigenous youth in Grade 8,” said Hayley Christen, Learning Services Coordinator with Red Deer Public Schools. “It was an excellent opportunity for them to meet new friends and connect with other Indigenous youth in Central Alberta. We wanted the young people to know they are not alone and we also hope the connections they make today will carry forward when they go on to high school. This was a fun, engaging, and meaningful day for all the youth involved!”

Throughout the day, youth were able to participate in 10 different sessions that included topics on goal setting, student success, resilience, Reconciliation, and Indigenous games, along with the opportunity to hear the personal journeys of several Indigenous mentors and leaders.

“This conference has been a beautiful event for the students to witness firsthand the success of other Indigenous people in the local community and come together to connect with Indigenous Grade 8 students,” said Selena Frizzley, Coordinator of Indigenous Education Services with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools. “We had students attend from Rocky Mountain House, Olds, Innisfail and Red Deer. Students left feeling empowered and hopeful after gaining traditional teachings from Elders and Knowledge Keepers.”

“We were thrilled to collaborate with Red Deer Public and Catholic School Divisions, in conjunction with several community groups, to host central Alberta Indigenous youth for Inspiring Success Youth Conference at Red Deer Polytechnic,” said Kylie Thomas, Red Deer Polytechnic Vice President, Academic and Provost. “We are extremely proud of the leadership roles that RDP Indigenous learners, including keynote speaker Logan Beauchamp, and Polytechnic staff assumed throughout the planning and delivery of this impactful conference. The collective efforts from all partners has helped to inspire Indigenous youth both in and out of the classroom.”

“This conference was a way to introduce Indigenous youth to positive role models from their own community. It was also a great way to introduce these youth to more aspects of our cultures, something that a lot of Indigenous youth feel disconnected from,” said Logan Beauchamp, Ambassador of Hope with We Matters. “As well, we were able to highlight some resources and organizations that are doing great things in our community that these youth can access. Most importantly, this conference was hopefully able to help these youth create their own definition of success and help them envision and plan how they can get there”

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