Balfour Beacons - May 2018

In an effort to recognize the outstanding individuals that we have at Balfour Collegiate, we are going to embark upon recognition of these students.  The word ‘Beacon’ has long been associated with the bright light that stands out, that leads and guides, and is something to which many are drawn.  These are the exact characteristics we are attempting to showcase through the Balfour Beacons.

Past Beacons: November 2013 | January 2014 I March 2014 I June 2014 | October 2014 | January 2015 | April 2015 | December 2015 | November 2016 | February 2017 | May 2017 | November 2017 | February 2018


Ku Reh (Grade 9)

I was born in 2003 in Myanmar. From 2003 to 2005 my family lived in Myanmar. Then my family went to a Thailand refugee camp called Ban Mai Nai Soi in 2005 because there was too much shooting and killing in Myanmar by the army.  The Myanmar army was trying to kill my people, the Karenni.

I started going to school in grade 1 in the refugee camp.  All the children played, slept and ate food.  We didn’t do a lot of school work, just the A, B, C’s. My school was built with bamboo, just like my house.  We didn’t have a phone or a computer in our home in Thailand.  All we had was a battery powered radio.When I lived in Ban Mai Nai Soi refugee camp I would spend my days playing soccer, takraw, capture the flag and hide and go seek when I wasn’t at school.  In school I learned about English, Myanmar, Karenni, Math, Social Studies and gym.  I studied up to grade 6 in Thailand before my family got the chance to come to Canada.  We arrived in January of 2017 and I was put into a grade 8 class at Arcola School.  It was so cold when we arrived, people told me that it wasn’t cold, but it was to me.

Starting grade 9 I was neither excited nor scared about going to Balfour. Quickly I knew it was a good place.  I am learning how to read, do hard math, play sports and use the computer.  Classes are hard for me.  Sometimes I don’t understand my teachers but they try to help me.  I have met some friends here, they are from different countries too.  I am not sure what I want to do after high school, but I know that the people at Balfour will help me to be successful in whatever I end up choosing.

Alejandro Sich (Grade 10)

Still, I remember the first day that I stepped foot into Balfour Collegiate as a student. It was back on September 5th, 2016, and, as soon as I walked into the school, I felt welcomed. At Balfour, I loved the warmth that I felt from the people as soon as I walked into the building. Funny, I did not find the building itself to be warm because the heaters are never working.

Personally, I did not find it too hard to make friends because of the friendly people that automatically surrounded me. Later on into the school year, I discovered the sports and extracurricular programs. Although I did not join a lot of the sports teams or extracurricular programs in my first year, I did manage to find my place in handball and later on in the wrestling program, where we took first place in the dual city championships.

In addition to the warmth of the students that I noticed at Balfour, I recognized the dedication of the teachers. Here, the teachers are always there for the students. At Balfour, the teachers are not just an authority figure, but a friend that you can rely on. My experiences at Balfour have been fun, encouraging, and challenging.

For the future, I hope that my experiences and relationships will continue to can get better. In the end, Balfour isn’t just a school full of people; it’s a family.

Tamara Smiljic (Grade 11)

When I first entered high school, everyone told me the next four years would feel like four seconds. They were right, for the most part. The time just seemed to fly by. Suddenly I’m in grade 11 and all the time I thought I had, I don’t have anymore. Sometimes I still think graduation is so far away and right now time is passing so slowly, but when I’m on that stage, accepting my diploma, I know I will say the time just flew by.

School can be very stressful, and life outside of school can be even worse. For example, right now I’m preparing for Mosaic while at the same time I have two presentations, three tests, and multiple assignments due this week. It’s not easy, I won’t lie and say it is, but when I look back, I hope I won’t be remembering the stressful moments along the way. Instead, I hope I’ll be concentrating on the end result, and the fun I had in between the stress.

I truly believe Balfour has taught me so many lessons. One of them being, don’t let others stop you from doing what you want. If someone says you can’t accomplish something, try 100 times harder just so you can prove them wrong. Balfour has allowed me to grow and learn who I truly am. It has helped me find lifelong friends and it has introduced me to life changing teachers. I hope this school, and the people in it, keep being this reliable and encouraging.


EJ Cruz (Grade 12)

I can remember the first time, walking through Balfour Collegiate’s massive front doors and how nervous I felt. It was all so exhilarating and new to me. Being in Grade 9 “as one of the new kids”, it was hard to get a sense of where I belonged in such a large school. In Grade 9, I was known for often goofing off in class and not being an attentive learner. I was a troublesome kid who got kicked out of classes and was actually suspended twice. I also did not participate in many school activities. My choices in Grade 9 are something I regret now as I’ve grown to realize how I wasted my time here by not being involved and by doing stupid things.

My experience here at Balfour has been a rollercoaster with ups and downs. They say “high school isn’t easy” and I agree with that 100%. Since joining Balfour, I have learned that I have to strive to achieve my goals. I need to push myself to succeed not only for myself, but for my teachers, and my family who have wholeheartedly supported me throughout this journey.

Through all the amazing support at Balfour, I was able to become a better person and get into less trouble while still using all my energy and having lots of fun. I have learned to pursue many amazing extracurricular activities that were offered at Balfour, with little to no experience, and still managed to enjoy them and build lots of skills (physical, emotional, and social). These activities included wrestling, dance, handball, and ultimate frisbee, all of which have contributed to who I am today. By being part of many teams in these extracurricular activities, I was given the opportunity to learn how to lead and how to work together with my peers. I developed so many new talents along the way such as beatboxing and dancing, and learn so many new things.

As each year passed, I was able to develop into a stronger person. The teachers and students at Balfour are such a welcoming community who made me aspire to become someone others could look up to. I’ve grown more mature, hardworking, and active in extracurricular activities. It has become a part of who I am to be so involved with whatever is happening in the school. I wasn’t scared to fail anymore, knowing that I had so many people who would push me back up. Feeling this support only made me try harder to succeed.

Going to high school has been beneficial for my future and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’ve enjoyed every moment of my time at Balfour, by creating memories, developing academically and socially, and learning as a person. My only advice to students new to Balfour is to not be scared to fail. Take risks and try something totally new. It’s okay to make mistakes just as long as you learn from them. Try to be a better version of yourself each day by studying harder and picking up extra classes to learn. Also, remember to always have fun. Take the opportunity to go to all the sports games, join the clubs, go to the social events, and by doing this, make some new friends. High school goes by so fast, so make sure you enjoy every moment and experience before it’s too late.


 Past Beacons: November 2013 | January 2014 I March 2014 I June 2014 | October 2014 | January 2015 | April 2015 | December 2015 | November 2016 | February 2017 | May 2017 | November 2017 | February 2018

 photography by: Chelsea Bauer (grade 12)