It didn’t take long for Ben Williams to make an impression at Duncan Christian School.
Just nine days after starting at the school in September 2019, he embarked on the school’s annual Grade 11 hike on the West Coast Trail.
“It started to become obvious to all of us that Ben was a natural leader,” DCS teacher and athletic director Tom Veenstra recalled. “He is always positive in his words to adults and peers. On the hike, he always took on extra things to carry if someone needed a hand. He volunteered to share devotions and leadership talks on the trail. It was like he was a chaperone for our seven-day adventure.”
Just over a year later, Williams was named the Rotary Club of Duncan’s Student of the Month for September 2020. The staff at DCS were asked to submit a name to the Rotary Club for consideration, and Williams was a natural choice. Students are usually presented with the award in person, but due to COVID-19, Williams, his family, and Veenstra joined the club for a virtual visit via Zoom on Sept. 28. Rotarians learned about his talents, including leadership, athletic ability, performing arts, and even mechanical aptitude, as demonstrated by a clever Rube Goldberg device he built for a challenge Veenstra created during the first weeks of COVID lockdown.
Unrelated to his selection as Student of the Month, Williams has also competed in the Rotary Club Hector McIntosh Speaking Competition, winning it three times.
Kim Barnard, the program coordinator for the Rotary Club of Duncan, spoke highly of Williams’s virtual interactions with the club.
“Undeterred by the unfortunate program limitations necessary this year, Ben Williams has a bright outlook and spoke highly of his school and opportunities there to serve and grow,” she said.
Williams received a certificate sponsored by Duncan PrintCraft and a cheque for $100 from the Rotary Club.
“I’m grateful to my teachers and to the school for being so accommodating, especially during COVID,” Williams said. “They’ve been willing to adapt to the scenarios we have and still provide a healthy learning environment.”
Reflecting on the recent death of a friend of a friend, Williams said the “impermanence of life” is what keeps him motivated to do so many different things.
“Life should be taken in full and not taken for granted,” he said. “Even in your younger years, you should still be doing things and making a difference in the world.”