Compassion just comes naturally to Jayda Lauzon.
The Grade 12 student at Frances Kelsey Secondary School made it her mission this fall to make sure that students who were being homeschooled because of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t feel isolated from their peers. Most years, the school offers a peer counselling class, but COVID restrictions prevented that from happening this year, so Lauzon started a peer counselling club to fill the same role.
Those efforts, and other outstanding qualities, helped her earn the Rotary Club of Duncan’s Student of the Month award for December.
“I was just raised to be a really caring person,” Lauzon explains. “I have a passion for helping people. I don’t feel like I have to do it; it just comes naturally.”
According to Kelsey principal Jeff Rowan, who nominated Lauzon for the honour, the school usually has fewer than five students being homeschooled. That number has risen to about 30 this year, often where a student or someone else in their home has a health condition.
As part of the club, Lauzon has created a pen pal program, matching up homeschool students with someone who is attending the school to exchange emails.
“It’s good to have someone to check in on them and have a connection to the school and school spirit,” Lauzon explains.
Regardless of its form — as a course or a club — peer counselling is a valuable program at the school, Lauzon says, providing a safe place and assuring students that they aren’t the only ones going through whatever is bothering them.
“It’s just something I’m passionate about,” she says. “I love meeting new people and being able to be there for them, and that’s the main thing about peer counselling.”
Lauzon’s sincerity toward her fellow students is obvious to Rowan.
“She cares about their mental health,” the principal says.
As the Student of the Month, Lauzon received $100 from the Rotary Club of Duncan and a certificate sponsored by PrintCraft. Program coordinator Kim Barnard pointed out that Lauzon appears to be a natural facilitator, which is a key value in Rotary.
In addition to peer counselling, Lauzon has been on her school’s student parliament for the last two years, serving as Minister of Environment, and outside of school, she is a member of the Cowichan Valley Earth Guardians. She is also an accomplished athlete in volleyball, soccer and track and field, and was identified two years ago as a potential national team rower, through the RBC Training Ground program. She had been training with the Canadian Olympic team until she dislocated both her shoulders.
On top of all that, Rowan points out that she is an excellent student. Keeping her options open right now, Lauzon plans to attend Vancouver Island University, Camosun College or UVic next year, with the eventual goal of taking physiotherapy at UBC.
Now in Grade 12, Lauzon says she didn’t really get involved in extracurricular activities in her first year at Kelsey as she adapted new a new environment after attending Queen of Angels School in Duncan for grades 2-9. The pandemic has forced her to be creative with some of her pursuits, to the point where she has started doing PA announcements at Kelsey once a week, “just to make things interesting.”
“You kind of have to go with the flow now,” she says.