Sam Lasinski still struggles when he finds himself in the limelight, but to someone who knows him very well, it remains one of his most endearing traits.
Five years ago Pen Hi principal Alan Stel met Sam, now in his final year of high school, and knew immediately the boy had that something special.
“Sam is an exceptional individual. The first time I saw him was behind the piano in Grade 8 at KVR (Middle School) and honestly I’ve never seen a kid play with that kind of passion and intensity and that’s what he brings to virtually everything,” said Stel. “Aside from his many gifts and talents, and even above his drive and motivation, is the attribute of humility. Sam is humble. And for me, this is quite possibly one of his most admirable qualities.”
Born in Penticton, Lasinski is not only a talented classical and jazz musician (who also plays the saxophone) but is a well-rounded, accomplished achiever who excels academically and in sports, especially competitive swimming.
For these reasons Lasinski was selected as the first Rotary Student of the Month for the current school year.
The Rotary Club of Penticton Okanagan is partnering with Penticton Secondary School with financial contributions from Gateway Casinos to recognize top students.
Quiet and reserved, Lasinski joined the school’s leadership class, an optional program in grade 10 to expand his horizons.
“I realized that I only had three years left to work on my leadership and communication skills with the support of teachers and counsellors,” Lasinski explained.
Always wanting to be better, he saw the class as an opportunity to achieve that goal.
And, as his parents told him: “It is good to be studious, but many opportunities in life come from relationships and learning to build relationships is key to your future success.”
One part of the leadership program required students to volunteer several hours a week in school or the community. Lasinski chose Penticton Regional Hospital’s extended care unit, working to find a common ground with residents whether it’s playing the piano or just reading a book and talking.
“Time at the hospital is often the highlights of my week,” he said.
While Lasinski always tries to be the best he can in all disciplines, the sciences are one of the things he enjoys most and is looking forward to one day becoming a doctor.
Reportedly, words his classmates use to describe him are kind, helpful, obsessive, intense, and foremost, intelligent. Lasinski thinks this is a cop-out: “It is my reputation but I simply work really hard at school.”
Lasinski is proud of the fact he doesn’t settle for less than his best and his favourite quote is from Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius: “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
Looking forward to post secondary studies, he is currently considering his academic options including McGill, Toronto or Cornell with the goal of pursuing competitive swimming.
“You only get to be 18 to 22 once in your life. Studying away from home is a good opportunity to stretch yourself, try something new in an unfamiliar environment,” said Lasinski.
But with the love of his home province, the culture and his passion for the great outdoors, he will no doubt be back one day.
Whether it’s school, music or swimming, Lasinski almost always tries to make every situation a learning experience.
“Swimming taught me many lessons in leading by example, doing the right thing even when the coach is not looking,” he said. “Grumbling or grimacing when the coach is not looking not only limits my own development, but it affects the other members of the team.”
The same applied to his decision to try jazz three years ago ,an “adventure” after having played classical music on the piano since kindergarten.
“This was a setback for me, as it slowed down my development in classical music, allowing others to overtake me in earning accolades and awards. But, it made me realize that music is an art and in the end, turning to jazz was totally worth it,” he said.
Student of the Month is a Rotary Club of Penticton-Okanagan initiative. The award aims to recognize outstanding students for unique combinations of achievement in scholastics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership and service to others. Watch for the special feature in the Penticton Western News each month.