Megan Francisco, a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary, is the Rotary Student of the Month for January. Submitted photo

Ballet to building roofs, Francisco finds time for excellence

Rotary Student of the Month in Penticton has strong work ethic

Megan Francisco, a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary, is a very busy young woman.

Francisco, the Rotary Student of the Month for January shows a commitment going beyond taking school seriously and achieving top grades.

Before classes start in the morning, Francisco is already active: in the school jazz band playing alto saxophone or in leadership class, chairing a weekly meeting with students from six different grades as part of the student-run Global Awareness Group. Their latest project is how to implement a new recycling program at school. She also devotes time to tutoring middle school students in math.

“Megan is really easy to work with. She is positive and always strives to do whatever the task is to the best of her ability. Megan is involved in a variety of activities around the school,” said her music teacher, Don Grant.

Francisco has helped fundraise for a number of causes, in particular helping support an orphanage in Tanzania, an ongoing project for students in the Okanagan Skaha School District.

Last year, Francisco produced a show at the Cleland Theatre, raising $5,000 to buy construction materials, and over the summer, spent a month in Tanzania, part of a group of 20 students from Summerland, Pen High and Maggie Secondary Schools. The students pay for the trip themselves, but they fundraise to buy construction materials, such as the $25,000 needed to roof a building, one of the projects she worked on.

“We worked really hard while we were there, building walls, floors and everything that doesn’t require specialized skills. Kids from the orphanage came to help in their bare hands and feet,” said Francisco. “At lunch, we played with them, we sang and had sleep-overs with them. I have made many friends there and I want to continue to help them.”

Maggie vice-principal and leadership instructor Sandra Richardson said Francisco has a work ethic not often seen in people her age.

“Never one to shy away from a challenge, Megan is innovative in her approach to problem-solving,” said Richardson.

Francisco admits there is one thing she finds difficult: saying “no.”

“Sometimes, I take (on) too much and become overwhelmed. Taking time to plan my day is a huge part of managing stress and learning to control my time,” said Francisco.

“I’m a perfectionist. I need to learn that not everything needs to be perfect all the time. To calm down, I talk with my mom who became blind as a result of a brain tumour in 2011. Having such a disability actually helps to provide a different and unique perspective on things.”

Francisco’s drive isn’t restricted to school. She is also a dancer and spends 10 hours a week training. Her favourite dance is classical ballet, though she also performs jazz, tap, modern, lyrical and contemporary and enjoys performing at community events like the OSNS Telethon, the Santa Claus parade and others.

After high school, Francisco’s goal is to attend UBC and pursue studies in environmental sciences, learning more about ecosystems and how they are affected by humans, green technology and more.

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

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