Inspiring role model for indigenous youth

Tucker Armstrong is the February Rotary student of the month

Tucker Armstrong, Penticton Secondary student and proud Syilx, has been chosen as the Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise student of the month for February.

Armstrong is a driving force behind the school’s multifaceted Indigenous Education program.

“Knowing about the land, culture and language of my ancestors is very important to me and I enjoy passing on this traditional knowledge to other students as a way to encourage acceptance of others, regardless of social differences,” said Armstrong, who receives strong support from his teachers.

“Tucker is without question a fabulous cultural leader and role model in our school and greater community. For the past few years he has been eagerly sharing his knowledge of cultural traditions in classrooms throughout School District 67, leaving his audience with an enriched appreciation of our past,” said Dustin Hyde, Pen High Indigenous Education teacher.

Lisa Stephens, the school’s Indigenous support worker, also noted Tucker’s strong leadership skills.

“Tucker is an exceptional student who is proud of his Okanagan heritage as demonstrated in his cultural teachings, mainly stick games,” said Stephens. His leadership skills are second to none and we love his wonderful sense of humour.”

Armstrong’s contribution to Pen High’s student body extends well beyond his cultural enrichment activities. Besides being active in the leadership program, he is heavily involved in several other extracurricular forums including the mental health, global awareness, forensics and debate clubs.

His interest in mental health stems from dealing with several friends and family members take their own lives.

“If only they had been able to talk to someone about their situation, they might still be here today,” Armstrong said.

“Tucker has been an integral part of the mental health club. He is a kind, caring, and empathetic individual who truly understands the challenges young people face as it pertains to mental health, anxiety and depression,” said marketing and economics teacher Pat Belbin.

Science teacher Scott Harkness said “Tucker is a strong, capable student with outstanding character. He positively contributes to the learning environment by participating in class discussions and encouraging his peers to engage as well. His kind and caring nature sets others at ease. He always comes into the Biology class or Forensics Club with a smile and a greeting.”

Armstrong has been a member of the rugby team throughout his four years at Pen High, including the team that placed second in provincials in 2017.

“During the three years I have coached Tucker, he has been asked to play many positions on the pitch where we felt he could most help the team and he always did a good job adapting to those new roles,” said coach Ken Sommerfeldt. “Definitely one of those utility players that every winning team needs.”

Tucker is praised by many of the school staff, including teacher-librarian Paula Baker.

“The most amazing thing about Tucker, aside from his wonderful hair, is his smile. Curious and comfortable with himself, he brings up interesting topics and then drives the discussion forward, listening carefully to each response.”

School custodian Richard Morgan added: “Tucker is always willing to help when asked and even if I am doing a task where I could use help, he’s one of the first to offer. A great kid who will silently appreciate being recognized.”

Armstrong’s two favourite subjects are automotive mechanics and physics, the former for “providing hands-on, practical training” and the latter for “explaining how things work in our universe.”

“Tucker is a fantastic student who is friendly, helpful, hard-working and well-liked by his peers,” said technology education teacher Grant Prothero. “I would hire him in a heartbeat. His mechanical knowledge and skills are developing well.”

With all this going on, Armstrong said time management is one of his biggest challenges. In addition to his school commitments and part-time job, he is also a leader in the 788 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps. He joined the Cadet Corps in Grade 7 and has risen to the rank of DSM Warrant Officer.

“Armstrong has a rich knowledge of the cadet program that makes him a skilled instructor for our younger cadets,” said Capt. Amanda Hazelton, the corps’s commanding officer. “He is self-motivated, willing to go above and beyond for his corps family and succeeds at any task he undertakes. I value his interpersonal skills in someone his age, especially during challenging times. “

Armstrong is uncertain of his career path upon graduation, possibly pursuing an RCMP or military track. Regardless, his ability to inspire, strong values and commitment to community will set him up to be a solid community member and change maker for the Syilx.

Student of the Month is a Rotary Club of Penticton-Okanagan initiative. The award recognizes outstanding students for unique achievement in scholastics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership and service to others. Rotary is partnering with both Penticton and Princess Margaret Secondary Schools, aided by a contribution from Gateway Casinos as part of their involvement in community service projects.

Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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