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Lucerne teacher Gary Parkstrom recognized for inspiring students

Danika Hammond presents Lucerne Elementary Secondary School teacher Gary Parkstrom with the Teachers Building Leaders Award during a recent ceremony.

Lucerne Elementary Secondary School teacher Gary Parkstrom recently received the Loran Scholars Foundation Teachers Building Leaders Award during a ceremony held in the Village of New Denver school.

The national award, started in 2015 is supported by the McCall MacBain Foundation, and recognizes primary and secondary school teachers who provide early inspiration, guidance and growth opportunities to their students.

To receive this award, a teacher must be nominated by a former student who has become a Loran Scholar - a young person selected for Canada's most comprehensive undergraduate award from a pool of over 4,400 applicants, on the basis of character, service and leadership.

Parkstrom was nominated by Danika Hammond, who was named a Loran Scholar in 2013, and recently completed her studies in Political Science & First Nations Indigenous Studies at UBC.

“When I reflect back, not only out of my teachers but also out of my community mentors, the first person I think of who has had the most profound impact on my life, is Gary Parkstrom," Hammond explained.

"I know I wouldn't be where I am now without his mentorship, guidance and support.”

From Grade 8 onwards, Hammond had several classes with Parkstrom. He also introduced her to a global leadership youth conference which set her life path in an entirely new direction.

“It was the turning point where I became heavily involved in directed, meaningful service activities in the school, the community and in a global context," she said. "Mr.Parkstrom had seen my potential and pushed me to act on it.”

Parkstrom joined Lucerne Elementary Secondary in 2007 and teaches Social Studies and Fitness currently. He was surprised and grateful to receive the award, as well as a congratulatory letter from the Governor General during graduation ceremonies at the school on Saturday.

“Mr. Parkstrom is a natural leader who builds capacity in his students," Lucerne Elementary Secondary Principal Trish Hawkins wrote in a statement supporting his nomination for the Teachers Building Leaders Award.

"Not only does he lead classroom activities and discussions that extend students' thinking and develop character, he takes them outside to build confidence and self-esteem."

Mr. Parkstrom has taken our secondary students rock climbing at Skaha Bluffs, mountain biking in our back country trails, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and camping," Hawkins added.

"He builds physical capacity and while doing so promotes emotional and intellectual capacity. His students are encouraged to take risks, to take responsibility and to demonstrate leadership for the younger students here at Lucerne. He builds leaders who in turn build leaders.”

For Hammond, the award represents a perfect opportunity.

“I find that people don't usually get to express their gratitude in such formal ways as the Teachers Building Leaders Award. I really appreciated being able to present it. It felt really exciting to share with the school and community the profound and lasting impact that Gary Parkstrom had on my life, to be able to reflect four years down the line and take the time to recognize his influence and the way he inspired me.”

ABOUT THE LORAN SCHOLARS FOUNDATION
The Loran Scholars Foundation is a national charity that partners with 25 universities to invest in young Canadians who demonstrate character, service and leadership potential. The Foundation selects up to 33 of
the top applicants from over 4,400 students as Loran Scholars, through a rigorous selection process involving up to three days of interviews at the regional and national level. Established in 1988, it has supported 572 Loran Scholars to date.

The Loran Award, valued at $100,000 over four years, comprises a $10,000 annual stipend and a matching tuition waiver (unique in Canada), up to $10,000 in funding for summer internships, a weeklong orientation expedition in Algonquin Park in Ontario, one-on-one mentorship and participation in the community of past and present scholars. For more information, visit: www.loranscholar.ca.