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Thursday, 22 June 2017 08:00

Bow Island teen wins Beaverbrook Vimy prize

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Madelyn Burgess, a Grade 11 student at Senator Gershaw School in Bow Island, spoke to the PRSD board of trustees about winning the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize along with her teacher Bill Ressler. Madelyn Burgess, a Grade 11 student at Senator Gershaw School in Bow Island, spoke to the PRSD board of trustees about winning the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize along with her teacher Bill Ressler. Photo by Rose Sanchez

A Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) student will  take a trip of a lifetime after being chosen one of 14 students to visit key First and Second World Wars historic sites throughout Europe.


Madelyn Burgess, a Grade 11 student at Senator Gershaw School in Bow Island, is one of the recipients of the Vimy Foundation Beaverbrook Vimy Prizes awarded this year to only 14 Canadian students ages 15-17.
Burgess spoke about the opportunity she has earned at the June 13 board meeting via video conferencing technology with her teacher Bill Ressler.
“In the fall, I heard about the Vimy Ridge prize and I put the poster up and talked to the students about it,” explained Ressler.
Burgess was intrigued enough to enter the scholarship competition which involved writing an essay that was more than 3,000 words about why she should receive the scholarship, as well as reference letters and supporting paperwork.
She also underwent a phone interview with the selection committee.
Waiting anxiously for the competition’s results, both Burgess and her teacher were thrilled to learn she had been chosen for the honour.
For two weeks in August, Burgess will travel from Toronto to Britain where she will meet up with other winners from Britain and France. The group will visit key historical sites such as Vimy Ridge, as well as attend lectures and visit other museums, battlefields, cemeteries and memorials.
In Canada’s 150th anniversary year, Burgess will get to see and experience Beaumont Hamel, Passchendaele, Dieppe and Juno Beach learning more about both the First and Second World Wars.
Burgess told trustees the opportunity is more than just a free trip. She is to become an ambassador for the community sharing the knowledge she gains through the experience.
“We’re going to be trying to raise awareness,” she added. “The focus is on informing us, so we can inform our communities.”
One of the projects as part of the scholarship is an initiative called “Bringing our boys home.” Each student is asked to find a soldier who fought in either World War and is buried in one of the main sites. Each student needs to research and write a biography about that person, in honour of them, and they will have the opportunity to visit that person’s gravesite. Burgess has chosen her grandmother’s uncle, who is buried at Vimy Ridge.
“I will be able to bring honour to our uncle...,”  adds Burgess.
When asked by trustees how Burgess felt about learning she had won the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize, she said it was a touch overwhelming.
“I didn’t really understand all of the implications. It’s a little overwhelming, but not daunting,” she said. “I’m excited to learn (this history) and to become a little bit of a resource in our community to know this (information) and share this (knowledge).”
Superintendent Brian Andjelic congratulated Madelyn on her win.
“This is such a positive learning experience for you. It’s one of those life-changing kind of things,” he said. “I know you will take full advantage of this learning opportunity.”

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor