Small deeds add up

MRHS stu­dent re­ceives Re­spect­ful Cit­i­zen­ship Award


Derek Smith is in his fi­nal year at Mid­dle­ton Re­gional High School, and he’s mak­ing the most of it.

As if his re­cent ac­com­plish­ment of be­com­ing a con­tender at the world pow­er­lift­ing cham­pi­onships this com­ing June wasn’t enough, he can add be­com­ing a re­cip­i­ent of the Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor’s Re­spect­ful Cit­i­zen­ship Award to his re­sume.

The award cer­e­mony took place on May 10 at Citadel High School in Halifax, where the award was pre­sented by Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Zach Churchill and Lieu­tenant-gov­er­nor Arthur Le­blanc.

Smith says he was hon­oured to re­ceive the award

“It’s hon­estly hard to put into words the grat­i­tude I have for re­ceiv­ing this award,” he said.

He added win­ning the award has helped him re­al­ize the pos­i­tive im­pacts of his ac­tions.

Say­ing that win­ning the award has “opened my eyes and made me re­al­ize that even though you may not feel like you’re mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in peo­ple’s lives, you ac­tu­ally re­ally are.”

About the award

The award is pre­sented to nom­i­nees in Pri­mary to Grade 12 that have demon­strated lead­er­ship and com­mit­ment to cre­at­ing and sup­port­ing safe and in­clu­sive spa­ces in schools and/or com­mu­ni­ties in Nova Sco­tia. Smith was given the award in recog­ni­tion of his lead­er­ship skills and his com­mit­ment to Mid­dle­ton Re­gional High School, which he demon­strates by tak­ing part in a tremen­dous amount of vol­un­teer ac­tiv­i­ties.

He’s a mem­ber of the stu­dents’ coun­cil, the grad­u­a­tion com­mit­tee chair­man and ac­tively vol­un­teers with the de­bate team and at school recre­ation events, such as dances. Smith also demon­strated a com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing stu­dents with spe­cial needs are in­cluded, re­spected, and val­ued as mem­bers of the school com­mu­nity. One ex­am­ple is through his in­volve­ment with Uni­fied Sports Bas­ket­ball.

“It’s a pro­gram that al­lows stu­dents with spe­cial needs within the school to come out once a week to a bas­ket­ball prac­tice run by stu­dents,” Smith ex­plained. “We play around and teach them the fun­da­men­tals of bas­ket­ball, then they have a big tour­na­ment at the end of the year. It’s a fun op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple that don’t al­ways get to be in­volved in com­pet­i­tive sports to come out and com­pete.”

Proud teacher

Bonny Hub­ley, Smith’s English teacher, nom­i­nated him for this award on be­half of his school. She says he seemed like the per­fect fit.

“When I was for­warded the in­for­ma­tion about the award, he was the first stu­dent who came to my mind,” said Hub­ley. “Be­cause, some­times, pro­mot­ing, among other things, a pos­i­tive space for stu­dents and adults, is not al­ways about do­ing one tremen­dously in­ge­nious thing or event. It is about every day, wel­com­ing staff, stu­dents, and com­mu­nity mem­bers and treat­ing ev­ery­one with re­spect and mak­ing their day a bit brighter.”

His pos­i­tive at­ti­tude goes a long way, she added.

“Derek wel­comes new stu­dents to our school very well, he takes them un­der his wing, he tries to show them why Mid­dle­ton is a great place to be, how they should be­have, what’s ex­pected here,” Hub­ley ex­plained. “And he does the same thing with his peers, he leads them with dig­nity all time, but holds them to a high stan­dard and wants them to rep­re­sent them­selves well.”

He is friendly with both his peers and school staff, she says.

“He is so per­son­able. Be­fore I knew him, he knew who I was as a teacher and would say, ‘Good morn­ing, Ms. Hub­ley’ to me in the hall or out­side,” she said. “I think that’s what makes our school a bet­ter place and our com­mu­nity a bet­ter place, and know­ing that that friendly per­son is al­ways there to help and to guide you and to set a good ex­am­ple.”

His lead­er­ship skills, she said, are demon­strated every day at the school.

“He leads qui­etly when nec­es­sary, works well in a group, but he can lead a team and pull them to­gether, co-or­di­nate events,” she said. “He is re­spectable to ev­ery­one all the time.”

That trans­lates into be­com­ing a role model for younger stu­dents, who turn to him for guid­ance in set­tings like school dances.

“He could be in the cafe­te­ria and two kids are start­ing to ar­gue with each other, he is the kind of stu­dent that would go over and say, ‘hey what’s go­ing on, ev­ery­body calm down, this isn’t how we do things here.’ And that sort of thing,” Hub­ley said. “So, hav­ing him around is al­most like hav­ing an­other pro­fes­sional around to keep an eye on things.”

Com­mu­nity in­volve­ment

Aside from mak­ing his school a bet­ter place, Smith has also spent a con­sid­er­able amount of time help­ing his com­mu­nity. He has vol­un­teered at a lo­cal nurs­ing home, the hos­pi­tal and as a mem­ber of the com­mu­nity health board. His mo­ti­va­tion? He says he “just re­al­ized that help­ing the older gen­er­a­tions and peo­ple who are sick is some­thing that I want to do.”

He also has a pas­sion for help­ing chil­dren, and plans to work this sum­mer with the Mid­dle­ton Recre­ation staff as a day camp leader.

“I think it’ll be a fun sum­mer. I’m pretty good with kids, and some­times I like be­ing five years old again, so it should be fun.” he said.

In the fall, Smith will head to St. FX Univer­sity to be­gin work­ing on his bach­e­lor’s de­gree in science and nurs­ing.

Smith says get­ting this award has shown him that small good deeds do add up, and any­one can make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in the lives of those around them just by do­ing the lit­tle things. He plans to con­tinue be­ing a leader and help­ing peo­ple once he moves onto univer­sity.


Derek Smith, a Grade 12 stu­dent at Mid­dle Re­gional High School, re­ceives the Re­spect­ful Cit­i­zen­ship Award from the Lieu­tenant-gov­er­nor of Nova Sco­tia Arthur Le­blanc, left, and Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Zach Churchill.

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