The day Eilish Young found out that she was being honoured as the Rotary Club of Duncan’s Student of the Month for April, she was doing recycling pickup around Quamichan School with a friend, one of the many duties she has taken on as part of the school’s leadership group.
While Young was selected for the honour, she wanted to emphasize that she’s not the only student at Quamichan who gets things done.
“It’s not just me,” she said. “Everyone on the Leadership group is contributing to making the community a better place.”
According to Quamichan School staff, including principal Nicole Boucher, Young stands out, even among other leaders at the school.
“Eilish is an incredibly strong and quiet leader, who, in her way, has had a profound influence on the school during her two years here,” a small team of staff members wrote in a letter to the Rotary Club to explain their choice.
Rather than list Young’s contributions to the school, they brainstormed her many positive qualities.
“Eilish is an idea engine,” they wrote. “Whenever there are Leadership meetings, Eilish always has the most incredible ideas. And when she has ideas, she has all of the skills that it takes to make her ideas happen in small steps. Another great quality that she has is that when she puts an idea out, she listens to everyone’s feedback, and makes things happen based on a collective effort.
“Eilish is a quiet observer. She is so good at recognizing social issues. She can sense when something might not be quite right. She can find the root of the issue and can generate solutions that really help her peers. She does this with a maturity beyond her years — she looks to the adults and implores them to work with students in a way that builds empathy and compassion. She truly cares about people and wants everyone to be the best versions of themselves.
“Eilish is civic-minded more than any student we know. As our District Student Advisory representative, she truly considers the interests and perspectives of others, and represents them at the district level. Amongst the other District Student Advisory council representatives at the other high schools, Eilish is the only one we know of who participates in district level meetings and initiatives. She is usually the only student at various forums, and is so good about using her voice and contributing. And she has been doing this since Grade 8! In addition to her civic-mindedness, Eilish does a lot to raise awareness for the environment, and is a social justice activist in so many domains.
“Eilish embodies inclusivity, which, for her is a bit of an understatement. She goes out of her way to make space for everyone’s voice. In Leadership, she is an inspiration to the entire group. She is in-tune to the Leadership group, but also notices when our entire school needs a boost of something fun or something positive. She embraces other people’s strengths, and is so encouraging of their talents. With the Leadership group, she has been a pillar and a rock. When the teacher wasn’t able to attend a meeting, she asked Eilish to take on the role of chairing, and didn’t worry at all, knowing that it would go great — she is such a cheerleader of other people and their ideas.
“Eilish is genuinely kind, positive, and proactive. She is an inspiration to others, and staff are always sharing how much they appreciate not only her contribution, but her mere presence in the classroom and in the school. Eilish’s contribution to the school has been tremendous, in her own quiet and unassuming way. It goes without saying that we value her tremendously, and that we [will] really miss her next year. We have also told the staff at Cowichan Secondary that they are really lucky to be getting her.”
It was noted by Rotary Student of the Month coordinator Kim Barnard that when Young had her Zoom meeting with the Rotary Club, she was joined by three staff members who insisted on being part of the ceremony, as well as her extended family, including grandfather Patrick Maguire, a Rotarian himself from Nanaimo who is marking his 80th birthday this year.
Not only was Young surprised to receive the Student of the Month award, but she didn’t even know it existed. The motivation for all her hard work comes from elsewhere.
“I like to make change and improve on things I see that could be improved on,” she commented. “Helping people makes me feel joy.”