Highlighting academic achievement and a commitment to learning, Merritt Secondary School (MSS) recently awarded its top scholastic performer of the 2021/22 school year with a prestigious award from the Canadian Government.

The Governor General’s Award is awarded to the students graduating with the highest average from a high school, as well as from approved college or university program, across the country. In Merritt, recent MSS graduate Portia Wainwright nabbed the prize. Although she graduated last year, Wainwright was presented her award last week due to COVID-19 restrictions and flooding delaying the small ceremony. 

Wainwright’s family watched on as Dave Andersen, vice principal of MSS, handed her the award and congratulated her on years of hard work. Still a student, Wainwright now studies at Edmonton’s University of Alberta campus, completing her undergraduate degree and working towards a career in dentistry. Her advice to the recipient of the next award? Keep working hard. 

“Continue to work really hard, and, as hard as it can be to go into university and its different environment, just try to focus and balance yourself,” said Wainwright. “It’s hard if you’re just focused on school, so try and do things that are not just for school.” 

Wainwright noted that the support of her teachers, family, and friends enabled her to succeed and achieve high grades throughout her secondary school experience. While she enjoys and excels at most subjects, Wainwright noted that math and science are her favourites due to their processes and patterns that can explain the world around us. 

MSS faculty and staff told the Herald that Wainwright was an exceptional student during her time at the school, noting her hardworking demeanor. 

“Portia, in her time here, was a stellar student, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that she is the recipient of this award,” said Andersen. “She’s very deserving, she’s worked extremely hard, and has a super bright future.”