Award winners saluted by Central Okanagan trustees

Students and teachers cited for personal achievement and community service

David Withler (left) received the Young Citizen of the year award at the 2022 Civic & Community Awards earlier this year. (City of Kelowna photo)

Outstanding achievement was celebrated on several levels at the Central Okanagan Board of Education meeting Wednesday (June 8).

Sports, arts, music and academics were all in the spotlight for trustees to pass on congratulations to various award winners.

Mike Sodaro

Mike Sodaro

Mike Sodaro

The KLO Middle School teacher received recognition from the board of education for his 16U Barn Owls boys’ volleyball team winning a bronze medal at the 2022 Volleyball Canada Nationals in Edmonton.

The club team consisted of players from both Okanagan Mission Secondary (OKM) and École Kelowna Secondary (KSS).

The trustees also acknowledged Sodaro for receiving two City of Kelowna civic awards – the Bob Giordano Memorial Award Coach/Sport Administrator of the Year and as coach of the École Kelowna Secondary School boys’ volleyball team, winners of the Bryan Couling Memorial Award – Athletic Team of the Year honour.

KSS principal Troy White said the awards are well deserved for Solaro, noting personal notoriety is not what drives him

“He is all about the kids,” White said.

Tatum Wade

Tatum Wade

Tatum Wade

A Grade 12 student at Okanagan Mission Secondary, Tatum Wade was the civic award winner of the Augie Ciancone Memorial Award – Young Female Athlete honour.

Wade told trustees she grew up in a sports family and enjoyed trying as many different sports growing up as she could.

This past year she played basketball, earning a post-secondary scholarship at the University of Calgary and being named as one of the top 15 players to watch out for in B.C., track and field, cross country running and ultimate frisbee, along with holding down a job and getting top academic marks in class.

“We are all proud of her,” said Okanagan Mission Secondary principal Derek Lea.

Nathan Loo

A Grade 12 student at Okanagan Mission Secondary, Nathan Loo was the co-winner of the Augie Ciancone Memorial Award – Young Male Athlete along with Everett Schmuland, a Grade 12 student at École Kelowna Secondary who was unable to attend the school board meeting.

Loo spent the past year involved in basketball, volleyball and track and field.

“For me, I have always seen sports and academics as going hand in hand in school,” Loo said.

Loo said sports have taught him the importance of being physically fit and self-empower himself to see through to the end results of setting and achieving goals.

“I am super grateful for everyone who has helped me along the way,” Loo said.

Lea noted Loo is also the president of the OKM grad council and valedictorian of his class.

“We are proud to call him a Husky,” said Lea.

Dryden Bennett

Dryden Bennett

Dryden Bennett

The civic Teen Honour in the Arts Award is Dryden Bennett, a Grade 12 student at Rutland Senior Secondary, an award that also comes with a $500 entry scholarship to the UBC Okanagan Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies.

Bennett has emerged as an exceptional musician and composer. Besides winning the Most Inspirational Musician award at RSS in 2021, he plays first chair trombone for the Okanagan Youth Symphony Orchestra.

He began music in Grade 9 with no prior experience and has grown since into a mature music composer of concert band and symphonic music.

He has already written one original composition, “Tangerine Trees”, which was performed by the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, and another piece, “Rain at the End of Time”, which was performed by the youth orchestra.

“I am lucky to of had an amazing support group at RSS,” Bennett said.

David Withler

David Withler

David Withler

Dedicating himself to helping others earned the civic Young Citizen of the Year Award for David Withler, a Grade 12 student at École Kelowna Secondary.

“It’s not what David did for himself, it’s what he did for others,” said KSS principal Troy White.

Withler is the holder of a unique title: he is the youngest and most frequent plasma donor in Canada.

Besides rolling up his sleeves to donate blood, he also supported numerous community initiatives in 2021, including volunteering at long-term care facilities and helping raise awareness of the new Plasma Donor Centre in Orchard Park Mall.

Withler is also a passionate soccer player, while also serving as a mentor to younger players and refereeing local games. He also represented Kelowna at the 2019 International Children’s Games for soccer.

White called Withler an exemplary model of the idea that helping others is the most important thing you can do in your life.

18U Junior Heat Boys’ Volleyball Team

The team recently won a silver medal at the 2022 Volleyball Canada Nationals in Edmonton, under the tutelage of coach Paul Thiessen, athletic director at OKM and president of the Okanagan Central School Athletics Association.

The Heat players came from KSS, OKM and Mount Boucherie Secondary, the first time a Kelowna boys’ team has medalled in the Tier 1 Division, finishing second in the 32-team tournament.

Kelowna was also one of 350 club teams from across Canada seeded to play for a berth in the nationals.

“It was a huge accomplishment for a team from a district the size of the Central Okanagan. All the other teams in the top eight came from cities of more than one million people,” said Thiessen.

He said six of the team members were recruited by CIS teams while several others will be playing for college teams this fall.

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