Profiles and thoughts on the ‘new’ world under a pandemic
Profiles and thoughts on the ‘new’ world under a pandemic
The 2020 Graduates, Part 2
In this issue, The Philippine Reporter features more 2020 graduates, one from high school and three from elementary school. Prompted by the positive response from our readers to our first feature story (TPR, June 12-25, 2020 Issue), we profile another set of achievers. The stories were contributed by people who know them best.
Ezekiel Alexis Carpio
By Julian and Catherine Carpio
Ezekiel Alexis Carpio is one of the 122 elementary graduates of St. Maria Goretti Catholic School.
Toronto-born-and-raised, fourteen-year-old Ezekiel or “Joma” as nicknamed by his parents Julian and Catherine, was a very active student both in academics and in athletics. He was a recipient of academic excellence and virtue awards. He participated in some extra-curricular activities, such as the WE Evening of Inspiration, Camp Olympia Leadership, and the Elementary Catholic Student Leadership Impact Team or ECSLIT.
On the court, he played in his school’s volleyball team and was a key player in his school’s basketball team, the St. Maria Goretti Griffins. They won 1st place in the Catholic Cup Division 2 in 2019 and brought home the gold medal in the Neil McNeil Invitational Basketball Tournament.
Outside of school, Ezekiel is a sports enthusiast and he loves to stay active. Ezekiel won several trophies, medals and 1st place ribbons in Taekwondo and in swimming competitions. He loves basketball and he started playing in the competitive level when he was 10 years old. He and his team have won numerous championships in the Filipino Basketball Leagues and tournaments and in the Ontario Provincial Cups.
“The Covid-19 pandemic took away our freedom to be active.” he said when asked about the impacts of the virus. “It also disconnected us from physical and social interaction with extended family and friends. I thought I was just having a one-week spring break, instead it was extended up to graduation and we graduated virtually. I didn’t experience climbing and walking through the stage to receive my diploma in front of fellow graduates and proud parents.” he added. “Covid-19 shocked the world. It was surreal that it forced Canada, among other countries to shut down. It impacted our economy and gave those living on the streets another worry. While most of us have a place to isolate harmlessly in our own homes, where were the homeless living? Were they given accommodation or were they being denied safe shelter? I thought about them, too. Never mind graduating without the traditional ceremony.”
On the topic about Black Lives Matter, Ezekiel said, “The Black Lives Movement is a movement too deep and sensitive for me to make a lot of comments on. I understand that the people of colour have been facing harassment and discrimination for a very long time. In fact, history said black people used to be slaves. Slave is a word we shouldn’t be saying anymore or to my disgust of the word itself, it shouldn’t have happened and should never be practiced. We humans need to do a lot better in treating everyone equally and we should not disfavor someone’s darker skin colour.”
Ezekiel will start High School at Senator O’Connor College School in September. His parents are happy and proud of his acceptance in the Advanced Placement program. “I don’t have a preference on how school will proceed in September, whether it’s online or in-class or a combination of both as long as it is for the safety of everyone,” he said.
“I’m a little scared but at the same time excited to move on to High School. I hope to have a safe learning environment and an enjoyable time. I wish for all children in the world to have access to free education and I wish that Canada will offer government-funded College or University!” he exclaimed. Finally, his message to his fellow high school students: “Stay in school and together let’s build a society where there is no poverty and where everyone can enjoy a pleasant life.”
Chloe Gonzalez Panganiban
By Christian and Evan Panganiban
“Graduation is a time that signifies the successful end of an academic adventure. It is more than a ceremony and celebration; it’s a time of reflection and excitement as we turn the page, ready to start a new chapter of our lives,” says Chloe Panganiban.
The coronavirus outbreak has flipped our society in ways previously unimaginable. For recent graduates, finishing their studies in the midst of a global pandemic was definitely something that nobody expected. It was a difficult end to the school year, the epidemic has limited our gatherings and forced all of us to isolate for what feels like forever, but nevertheless, the Class of 2020 prevailed.
Chloe is a recent graduate from St. John Henry Newman Catholic High School. She was heavily involved in both her school and in her greater community. For the past four years of high school, she has been a part of her school’s Student Council, and graduated this year as the Student Body President. She was also a mentor for incoming Grade 9’s, a part of her school’s Chaplaincy Team, and an extended French and Advanced Placement student. In addition to this, Chloe was actively involved in the school board as a part of the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s (TCDSB) Executive Student Senate for three years. In this position, Chloe coordinated and facilitated many leadership-based initiatives for both elementary and secondary students of the school board. She was also a part of the TCDSB Filipino and Safe-Schools Advisory Committees as a student representative, assisting in advancing equitable education practices and providing student opinion in decisional matters.
In her free time, Chloe often volunteers around her community. She is an usher at church, a French tutor at her old elementary school, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, and a helping hand at various homeless shelters around Toronto. She also enjoys rock climbing, reading classical literature and biographies, and travelling!
In September, Chloe will be attending the University of Toronto to pursue a degree in Life Sciences. As she takes this next step in her academic journey, Chloe reflects on her past four years at St. John Henry Newman CHS. “High school, to me, was all about camaraderie and love for community. I am so grateful for all of the teachers, mentors, friends, and family who have helped me along the way and have shared in my journey.”
Chloe adds, “There has been a lot of things that have limited us this year. We have experienced the unthinkable in this pandemic, but it has also taught us a lot of things – to be thankful for all our blessings, for family time, for our health and even the simple day to day things we can enjoy. It is important to recognize, that now, more than ever, we must be compassionate, hopeful, and vigilant. Congratulations to my fellow graduates! Keep on reaching out and doing what you can wherever you are. I have no doubt that our generation is bound for greatness.”
Jessa Coline Rayne Aquino
By Anna Criselda Cortez-Aquino
Jessa Coline Rayne Aquino graduated as the Class of 2020 Valedictorian at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Elementary School.
Rayne is an epitome of diversity and resilience. She was born in the Philippines and attended her preschool back home. O.B. Montessori and St. Scholastica’s Academy were the foundations of her education.
When she was six years old, she migrated to Italy so she could be with her Dad. Rayne was able to blend in right away even though she was new to the country. She made friends, learned the language, and loved the culture. Before turning nine years old, Rayne’s journey continued on by being in a new country – this time Canada which she is very thankful and proud to be a part of.
Rayne consistently makes her family proud wherever they go by being on top of what she does. She was an active member of the school community. She took part in many Sports Clubs, Extra Curricular Activities, and Leadership Programs. Rayne was part of the Basketball and Volleyball Team and was a Student Marshal for Track and Field and loves helping out by being one of the Office Monitors. She was also a Choir Member at the St. Thomas More Catholic Elementary School and at the St. Thomas More Parish.
In sixth grade, she transferred to St. Rose of Lima Catholic Elementary School which she considers to be the best elementary school ever. She continued being a role model not only to her two younger siblings, but to the whole school community. She was one of the Student Monitors and also a Student Ambassador for the Stop the Stigma Mental Health Program and has been a part of the Kids, Cops, and Computers Program where she became a Student Guest Speaker at the 15th Annual Celebrity Sports Mixer Event.
Putting God first in everything she does, giving importance to her education, having good character, and being able to build and keep relationships were just few of the many teachings that Rayne’s parents instilled to her while growing up.
Rayne recognizes that the current situation we are all into is a tough one but considers this as a good opportunity for us to re-think the priorities we have in our lives.
Appreciating the simple pleasures of life like being with the family, watching TV/movies, playing board games, and just being with each other are one of the many things that people should still be thankful for.
Although Rayne didn’t have the typical graduation she looked forward to, she encouraged all her classmates and friends to focus on the good times they spent together and the achievements they all worked hard for. She believed that graduation is defined by the perseverance to take the next step further and the courage to be resilient during these difficult times. “When times are tough, the resilient gets better through constant learning. It’s how we adapt to change, and how we reach for new opportunities.”
By Jonathan B. Canchela
In times of pandemic, graduation exercises have become physically non-existent. But many graduating students have become creative in finding ways to celebrate their achievements – mostly virtually.
“Graduating during these challenging times was difficult knowing that I couldn’t experience the graduation trip, school traditions, and spend more time with my friends,” said Malaya Canchela, who graduated as one of the two 2020 class valedictorians of Elder’s Mills Public School (EMPS) in Vaughan.
The announcement of being a valedictorian came through a simple Google Meet gathering of all EMPS graduating students. A sort of farewell meeting, the teachers prepared a slide presentation with videos documenting the various activities and memories throughout the years.
During her stay at EMPS, Malaya managed to balance her academics and involvement in other school activities. She was once a member of the Health Ambassadors and the Eco Club. She represented her school in a track-and-field competition. She joined a speech competition representing her class.
COVID-19 pandemic cut short the school classes and other activities. Students were required to take online schooling at home.
According to Malaya, transitioning to online school was a struggle for her. “In school, there was a schedule and everything was planned out for each week. In online school, however, I had to balance the time with my family and to make my own schedule.”
“But over time, I slowly got used to knowing my priorities. Time management and making a to-do list helped me a lot.”
With uncertainties in the world, Malaya is prepared and looking forward to her next learning journey in high school.