Bianca Elias, centre, receives her Student of the Month award from Duncan Rotary representatives Kim Barnard and Gregg Perry, flanked by Chemainus Secondary principal Lori Hrynuik and teacher Kim Magnan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Bianca Elias, centre, receives her Student of the Month award from Duncan Rotary representatives Kim Barnard and Gregg Perry, flanked by Chemainus Secondary principal Lori Hrynuik and teacher Kim Magnan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Chemainus Secondary’s Bianca Elias named Rotary Student of the Month for March

Thetis Islander created a safe space for girls and novices to play basketball

When Bianca Elias started Grade 12 at Chemainus Secondary School last fall, she noticed an absence of girls sports. So she decided to do something about it.

Elias approached teacher Kim Magnan about setting up a time and place for girls to play basketball. There was already an “everyone welcome” time booked in the gym on Fridays, but it was dominated by older boys who played on the school’s team (there hasn’t been a girls basketball team at Chemainus Secondary for several years) and could be somewhat intimidating for the girls. Magnan set up a time for girls to play — Wednesdays at lunch — and Elias took over from there.

“In Alberta, my school was very big into sports,” she explained. “So coming to a school that didn’t have as much sports, especially girls sports, I wanted to change that.”

The girls-only session has since opened up to new and novice boys as well. About 20 kids attend the gym times.

“It fills the need for kids who need a safe space to learn skills,” Magnan noted.

For her efforts in making the gym and sports at Chemainus Secondary more welcoming for girls and new players, Elias was named the Duncan Rotary Club Student of the Month for March 2022.

Elias played and coached sports at her school in Alberta before her family moved to Thetis Island and she started school in Chemainus. Sports have always been a passion of hers, and she started playing basketball in Grade 9. As well as playing, she volunteered to help at the score table for boys basketball games this year, and helped referee one game.

This is Elias’s one and only year at Chemainus Secondary, but she has made an impact, bringing “positive energy and spirit” to the school, as well as a “girls can” attitude.

“She’s been a lovely addition to the student body,” principal Lori Hrynuik said.

Elias’s impact will be felt even after she is gone, as the school recently did inventory for its P.E. equipment, and realized it would need more girls basketballs next year. Elias, meanwhile, is planning to take a gap year before pursuing something in fashion and design.

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