Durham Awards Ceremony 2015

Durham Awards Ceremony 2015

Durham Awards Ceremony 2015

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Durham Region Art & Essay Contest 2015 Awards Ceremony was held on May 20th, 2015, at the Ajax Convention Centre, with the theme of Volunteers: Heroes Among Us. The ceremony began with a showcase of the insightful and inspiring art and essay submissions of the finalists before proceeding with thoughtful speeches and an excellent dinner.

Shashi Bhatia, President of the Indo-Canadian Association of Durham, continued the evening by introducing Jerry Archer, radio host for KX96 New Country FM and widely involved in community service, as MC for the evening. Fatih Yegul, Executive VP of IDI GTA, then welcomed the guests to the fourth year of the Durham Art & Essay contest and thanked its sponsors. He announced that next year’s contest, which has seen a steady increase in participation by high school students of the region, would be renamed “Creative Minds Youth Awards” and would be introducing a video category.

After IDI’s own introductory video, Cathy Abraham, chairperson for KPRDSB, thanked IDI’s work, the impressive submissions from students, and reinforced the need for art in our schools. Jim McCafferty, chair of the Durham Catholic School Board, then thanked the organizers and explained that he saw contests like this as a challenge for students to become more than students and take steps toward their future roles as citizens. He acknowledged the students as heroes and expressed that the contest promoted peace and harmony in schools and communities.

Jerry Archer continued the ceremony with a letter from Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, who sent her greetings and praised the contest as an opportunity to reflect the efforts of volunteers and local heroes. She commended the IDI for their work in intercultural and interfaith communication. Finally she congratulated the winners.

Jerry Archer then took the opportunity to speak about the More Than One Story card game, which had received the Intercultural Innovation Award from the United Nations.

Joe Jackson, MPP of Durham, gave his congratulations to the contest’s finalists before introducing the night’s keynote speaker, Robert Howard, Chief Possibility Officer & Campaign Director for United Way Durham and a successful individual who is widely involved in community welfare.

Howard’s address stressed that to care and help our fellow humans would not only enrich our lives but ensure a community’s prosperity and well-being. Among lighthearted anecdotes about his family, M. Howard explained that our world was changing more rapidly than ever before, so a community would need its core values to see it through these changes, and most importantly: you do not leave people behind.

Following M. Howard’s thoughtful address, the guests enjoyed an excellent dinner and continued the tradition of Noah’s Pudding as desert.

Durham police chief Paul Martin applauded the IDI for their choice of volunteerism as a topic for this year’s contest and continued the universal praise of the students’ work.

The top three winners in each category were then announced and given their prizes. The finalists were also announced and given gifts for their excellent submissions. Gary Cubit finished the evening with remarks that volunteerism is important to carrying a safe and caring community. Below is the list of finalists and winners.


Prize Board Type First Last Grade School
1st DCDSB Essay Jessica Watters 10 Archbishop Denis O’Connor CHS
2nd DDSB Essay Raylene Stender 10 Eastdale C.V.I
3rd DCDSB Essay Jana Abi Rafeh 10 Archbishop Denis O’Connor CHS
Finalist DCDSB Essay Rachel Leck 12 St. Mary CSS
Finalist DCDSB Essay John Paolo Cabaluna 10 Archbishop Denis O’Connor CHS
Finalist DCDSB Essay Ethan Raphael Bautista 10 Archbishop Denis O’Connor CHS
Finalist KPRDSB Essay Hannah Belyea 12 Clarington Central SS
Finalist KPRDSB Essay Joelle Joncas 12 Clarke High School
Finalist KPRDSB Essay Kyra McAlister 11 Clarington Central SS
Prize Board Type First Last Grade School
1st KPRDSB Poster Emily Wentland 11 Bowmanville High School
2nd DDSB Poster Diana Lawryshyn 11 Maxwell Heights Secondary
3rd PVNCCDSB Poster Mercedes Bucholz 10 St. Stephen CSS
Finalist DCDSB Poster Justin Mezzapelli 11 Father Leo J. Austin CSS
Finalist DCDSB Poster Kate Malenfant-McNeice 11 Monsignor Paul Dwyer CSS
Finalist DDSB Poster Natalie Najib 9 Pickering High School
Finalist KPRDSB Poster Erin Cutler 12 Bowmanville High School
Finalist KPRDSB Poster Logan Sugg 11 Bowmanville High School
Finalist KPRDSB Poster Hannah White 12 Bowmanville High School
Finalist PVNCCDSB Poster Jaimy McDonald 10 St. Stephen CSS

It was a great evening celebrating the people who are at the heart of every community, making it brighter and enriched every day. The students’ works gave us thoughtful explorations of the topic of volunteerism and an excellent quality of work. We look forward to another successful year of submissions in 2016.

Durham Art & Essay Contest Awards Ceremony 2015