(From left) St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School principal Ryan Sawula, Grade 6 student Addison McMahon who goes by Addi, and homeroom teacher Krista Vande Brink posed for a photo Tuesday at the school. The teacher and the school principal are proud of McMahon accompolishments and her community involvement. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Red Deer student excels: 11 year old hosts fundraiser to help kids

A Red Deer youngster is like most students, with a few exceptions: she excels at both her schooling and at community involvement.

Grade 6 pupil Addison McMahon, who goes by Addi, received a Circle of Courage award from St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School in four categories in November.

“I was pretty proud of it, it was pretty awesome,” McMahon said this week.

The Circle of Courage award recognizes McMahon’s generosity, belonging, independence and mastery.

School principal Ryan Sawula said it’s not usual to recognize one student in all four categories.

“Usually, it’s just one of the categories. Certainly, we try and honour students anytime we see them demonstrating any of those pillars – it’s all about making our community stronger and having a positive contribution back,” Sawula said.

Homeroom teacher Krista Vande Brink said the school chose to recognize McMahon because of the potential she demonstrates.

“We see so many things: she’s independent, she tries to master everything she does, she also helps with class belongings and helping out her friends, making them feel welcome,” the teacher said.

She is also very generous, the instructor said, referring to McMahon’s donation of personal books to the school. The student has a 90 per cent grade average.

“Think for someone who is able to balance like she can, so she does really well in school, but also plays high-level ringette and still finds time to volunteer.

“I think that speaks highly for her and her character, and she is able to balance that out and we’re proud of her for that,” the principal explained.

McMahon plays ringette in winter and fastball in summer. She wants to help other athletes who may not be able to participate in sports. That’s why on Dec. 29, she will sell hot chocolate as part of a fundraiser for Jumpstart.

“It’s a charity that helps kids who can’t play sports, like maybe they’re not fortunate enough or they can’t and it helps them so they can,” she said.

McMahon said she chose the charity because she firmly believes “every kid deserves to play.”

This isn’t the first time the young Red Deer resident has raised money.

“I’ve done a couple ones for cancer when I was five. I made key chains and I raised over a $1,000. Me and my friend did a dance for cancer when I was in Grade 4,” she said, remembering some of the past fundraisers.

When she grows up, the 11-year-old wants to be a teacher, or a librarian or gym teacher – a role that will help her support children.

Sawula said the school encourages any student who helps people feel like they belong in the community.

“Her internal passion for social justice and helping others is something you don’t see all the time, so it’s nice to have that,” said the principal.

Sawula said he loves to see students making a difference, understanding “that piece of giving back to the community and that piece of social justice, and that’s key and it feels like we’re in good hands, and it’s always good to hear when a student wants to be a teacher.”

McMahon’s upcoming event is at Rosedale Rink between 1 and 3 p.m.

“We’re going to go skating there, and sell hot chocolate, and whatever you buy, the money goes to Jumpstart,” said McMahon.


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