District Highlights

2018 Leaders of Tomorrow: Marlee Van Balkom – Alouette

During the 2017-18 school year, Marlee Van Balkom was a Grade 6 student in her first year of The Wheelhouse program. She previously attended the Environmental School from kindergarten through Grade 5, and she enjoys sharing the knowledge gained from her experiences at this school with her peers.

She is very appreciative of the supportive and caring community that exists in The Wheelhouse program. Marlee describes the class as, “super nice and kind” and that “everyone cares about each other.” She says that this kindness is shown by the way the students interact with each other: “We include each other…we look out for one another.”

Marlee is involved in many activities outside of school including: community theatre, a youth group, and is active in her church community. She is also very dedicated as a competitive gymnast. She competes in trampoline and tumbling and has been in the sport since she was eight years old. She currently trains approximately 12.5 hours per week, and has competed at the BC Provincial Championships and also the Western Canada Cup. This year, she was awarded a first-place finish at the provincial championships in the synchro trampoline event.

What does it mean to Marlee to be a leader? “It means being responsible, being kind, making good choices and showing good judgment. Oh, and setting a good example.” When asked about what she has learned from good leaders, Marlee gives simple advice: “Be nice and kind – if somebody is sitting there and is sad, and if we don’t walk up to them and talk to them, they will just stay sad. And that’s no good!” Marlee’s peers will tell you that she is always happy and cheerful, and her cheerful nature is infectious. In fact, her speech topic this year was How to Spread Happiness!

One thing that stands out about Marlee is her commitment to healthy living and eating. Her family grows their own fruits and vegetables in a large garden at the house. Marlee explains that it is much healthier by avoiding the use of pesticides, sprays, and also cuts out the added pollution that would be necessary to transport food to the local supermarket. Marlee enjoys sharing information about healthy eating with her peers, and does so in a manner that feels casual and kind. She is determined to influence people to eat healthier!

In the future, Marlee would like to qualify to compete in gymnastics at the national championships – she hopes to make it in the next two to three years. She has already expressed a desire to participate on the Student Voice team next year in Grade 7.

Marlee has a lot of wishes for the world, but one stands out above the rest: “Stop eating processed and packaged food!” She would also like people to reduce their meat intake and eat more fruits and vegetables, but understands that cutting out meat this is not something that everyone is able to do. However, she does believe that eating meat in moderation is a healthier alternative. As for the fruits and vegetables? “Everyone needs their daily nutrients…if you don’t have them, you won’t have as much energy!”


About Leaders of Tomorrow

The Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District (SD42) has teamed up with the Maple Ridge News to celebrate local students who are making a difference at school and in the community. Elementary and secondary students featured as Leaders of Tomorrow were picked by their principals for making positive achievements in academics, sports, arts and community involvement.

The list is just a sample of outstanding students in the school district selected by their school during the 2017/18 school year – there are many others who were equally deserving of recognition for their exemplary achievements both inside and outside the classroom.

Every Tuesday throughout the school year, SD42 will profile a student selected as one of the 2018 Leaders of Tomorrow.

Our vision
Our vision is for every individual to feel valued and for all learners to reach their potential.
Our mission
Our mission is to support all individuals in their development as successful learners, and as respectful, caring and responsible members of society.