Branson Crawford is the Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise’s Student of the Month for April.
Crawford, a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School, is being recognized for excelling in education, sport and his role in the Penticton Robotics Club.
Born and raised in Penticton, Crawford has enjoyed his time at Maggie—its vibrant, collegial atmosphere and, above all, the stimulating interactions with his teachers.
“Their enthusiasm for each subject is infectious and they all go the extra mile to ensure that each student understands the material being taught, including freely offering remedial help after class, if needed,” Crawford said.
Robotics has become a cornerstone of Crawford’s life. This love affair was kindled in Grade 11 when his computer science teacher Josh Walker, the coach of the Penticton Robotics Club, invited him to join the team. He accepted and tirelessly labored over the summer learning the Java programming language as a prerequisite to serving as the club’s lead coder.
Beginning in September, Crawford and his Maggie and Pen High teammates spent many hours honing their skills for the 2023 Pacific Regional FIRST robotics competition held in Victoria in March.
The last eight weeks they toiled to 11 p.m. each school night and on weekends to build a robot capable of meeting the competition’s specific challenges.
His robotics journey required an immense effort and time commitment, totaling some 500 hours, and Crawford would not have changed a thing. To him, the experience vividly illustrates how a strong, focused work ethic ultimately pays off as their three-team alliance placed 6th overall.
“Filling the role as the lead coder for the robotics team surely ranks as my greatest achievement at Maggie,” Crawford said.
Moreover, he derived immense satisfaction from coaching junior coders to solve problems on their own, allowing him to hone his own skills while helping others.
“Self-motivated, he spent many hours learning, writing and debugging code all alone. When I asked him for a coding solution, Branson would either deliver or explain why coding could not solve the problem or find another solution,” said Walker. “Clearly, he played a vital role in our club’s success this year.”
Crawford’s relentless pursuit of excellence extends to the volleyball court. He has played on the Mustangs men volleyball team all four of his years at Maggie, the last two on the senior team.
Despite his taxing extramural workload, Crawford is firmly committed to scholastics. His grade average has increased from 89 per cent in Grade 10 to 91 per cent in Grade 11 and 95 per cent in the first semester of Grade 12 while carrying a heavy load of university foundational courses in science and math.
Crawford’s cites weightlifting as his favorite activity outside school. He said that loves all it entails, such as the nutrient-rich diet and the strict and painful program needed to maximize benefit. With patience and perseverance, he has seen amazing improvements in both his mental and physical health.
In the run-up to the FIRST competition, each night he went to the gym at 11 p.m. after an intensive coding session to wind down and relax, a strategy he often uses elsewhere in his life.
For leisure, Crawford absolutely loves the challenge of matching wits with friends in Maggie’s Chess Club with the ultimate triumph occurring when he finally beat a teacher after suffering many defeats. He also enjoys hiking with his mom, either along the KVR trail or at Giant’s Head.
Crawford has been accepted in the BSc in Computer Science program at UBC Okanagan. Upon completing a one-year Co-op program at a tech firm to gain career-related experience, he then wishes to obtain an MSc in computer science with a minor in French communications, as a prelude to working abroad and fulfilling his desire to experience different cultures.
The Student of the Month is a Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise project in partnership with local secondary schools. The award aims to recognize outstanding students for unique achievement in scholastic, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership, and service to others. The Rotary Club recognizes Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School as project partners and Cascades Casino Penticton for their financial aid.
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