Sustainable Orillia Youth Council Scholarship Recipients

By Fred Larsen – Special to SUNonline/Orillia

Three local high school students are receiving the newly inaugurated Sustainable Orillia Youth Council Scholarship student scholarship at their schools’s commencement exercises on June 29.

The three 2023 graduates—Blythe Wieclawek and Weiqi Xufrom Twin Lakes Secondary School and Ceylon Auger from Orillia Secondary School will each receive a $500 award. The awards are co-sponsored by Sustainable Orillia and Orillia Power Generation.

The idea for the creation of the award came from this year’s youth council members to recognize and encourage membership in the youth council from Orillia’s three high schools. The students making the proposal envisioned the scholarship award being initiated in the next school year, June of 2024. However, when the Sustainable Orillia Board studied and approved the proposal for up to three annual scholarships, they decided to make the prizes available for the class of 2023 as well.

Blythe Wieclawek, president of the youth council for the past two years, will be going on to Harvard University in September where she will study pre-med. Blythe, who has been an outstanding member of the local Channel Cats swim team, will be representing Harvard in the pool. As the council president, she led the organization of the Sustainable Simcoe Youth Summit in May of 2022, attended by 200 students from SCDSB schools. She represented Orillia youth in consultations on Orillia’s plastic-reduction plan and during the discussions that led to Orillia’s Climate Action Plan.

“I plan to continue my change-making and sustainability initiatives while at school (Harvard), and I can’t wait to see what can be accomplished through the support of my university,” said Blythe

Blythe Wieclawek and Weiqi Xu

Weiqi Xu will be heading off to the University of Waterloo in September to study geomatics in the faculty of environment. A key member of the council’s executive for the past two years, he has also been a huge asset to Sustainable Orillia with his knowledge and application of computer skills to the organization of SO’s website.

“I plan to use the soft skills I’ve gained throughout my tenure with the council and other leadership roles (in high school) to play a leadership role within organizations that strive to make our world a more sustainable place,” said Weiqi

Ceylon Auger is looking forward to her environmental science/sustainability future at Dalhousie University. As the OSS representative on the youth council, she assisted in preparing the Student Summit in 2022 and helped run the youth climate lab activity. She also led the running of the council’s clothing swap at OSS. She has learned much from her work with the council.

“This group has been a fantastic way to connect with other youth in Orillia who are passionate about environmental action, and it has given me a youth-led activism experience that I will carry on into my future,” said Auger.

The awards will be presented to the three students at the coming week’s commencement exercises. We at Sustainable Orillia are grateful to these three for their leadership of the youth council during the past two years, as we are grateful to all our youth council members.  

As Blythe, Weiqi and Ceylon move on to their next chapters, they have ensured a successful leadership transition for this coming fall.  From Patrick Fogarty High School, Kate Sontage is the incoming Sustainable Orillia Youth Council president, supported by fellow PF Student, Anna Bivol, as vice-president. 


Support Independent Journalism