Scholarships put Whistler grads ‘in new tax bracket’ 

Being a teenager with high school almost over, on the cusp of something new, is a great place to be standing, even with final exams still looming.

It's an even better place with $10,000 worth of scholarship money in your back pocket.

Two Whistler Secondary School grads are in just that position and a host of their peers have also been given a helping hand in recognition of their high academics, community involvement or athletic excellence.

At last count Hailey Dekraker had amassed roughly $13,750 in scholarship money.

"That puts me in a new tax bracket," joked the 16-year-old.

Her scholarship winnings are the highest in her graduating class. She also tied for first place with Jen Barkman with the highest GPA in the class.

Then there's Blake Jamieson, whose three scholarships total $9,500.

"I'm a little bit awestruck," he said.

"You always hear about the kids who get scholarships and think, 'that's not going to happen to me.'"

Both were recognized for national awards where they were up against stiff competition.

Dekraker was one of the 100,000 Canadians who applied for the Canadian Merit Scholarship. After a regional interview, she was chosen to fly to Toronto for more rigorous interviews and asked her opinion on subjects ranging from politics to drugs to Sept. 11.

She was ultimately awarded $2,500.

Jamieson was one of 7,000 applicants across the country that applied for the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation Excellence Award.

As a local award winner he received $4,000.

Looking over both resumes, it's obvious to see the scholarships don't come easy.

They both have outstanding grades and are totally committed to different things in their lives.

Jamieson moved to Whistler last year to concentrate on his ski racing.

The Tsawwassen-born 18-year-old has been on skis since he was two and is now a member of the Nor-Am team.

This dedication to the sport has meant long periods away from school where it was tough to keep up his studies. His parents only allowed him to race provided he stayed on the Honour Roll.

But now Jamieson wants to concentrate on other things, even though he plans to race for the ski team at UBC in the fall.

"It's definitely still a large part of who I am. It's given me a lot more drive that I would have had," he said.

It's that kind of drive that led him to spearhead a group that would challenge the no hats rule at Whistler Secondary school in his first month there.


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