Red Deer graduate William Welikoklad, who earned top academic marks at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School, says Grade 12 was difficult during COVID-19, but good preparation for university.
Welikoklad received the 2020-21 Governor General Academic Medal for achieving the school’s highest grade average.
The 17-year-old is now studying business administration at Western University in London, Ont. where his classes are either online or a hybrid with in-person instruction.
“A lot of it is about adapting and making sure you’re always on top of things,” said Welikoklad about the importance of students being open to schedule changes and figuring out what works best for them so they can succeed in class.
He said switching to online learning in the spring when the pandemic first hit was initially a challenge, in addition to keeping up with extra curricular activities, like coaching with Red Deer BMX and leading the school’s student financial investment club. But maintaining a balance was important for mental and physical health.
Welikoklad, of Red Deer County, said he came up with the idea for the investment club after being inspired by a summer program he took through the University of Pennsylvania.
About 18 students in the club learned about investment strategies and participated in a simulated investment competition based on real-life businesses. Each student started out with $100,000 and were free to pretend to invest in any businesses.
He said some students were quite successful.
“There were some people who got off to a rocky start, then picked it up. And there were some who just impressively performed well off the start.
“We definitely had some people who were willing to take risky gambles and risk it all to see if they can make a bunch of money and be on top.”
Welikoklad said whatever students decide to do in school, or after graduation, he encourages them to do their best so they don’t look back with regret.
“If you want to go get it, make sure you’re setting goals and working hard to get it. Make sure you commit yourself 100 per cent to it,” Welikoklad said.
Notre Dame vice-principal Curtis Lansing said Welikoklad was a student who always saw the positive during the ups and downs of COVID and found a way to persevere.
He said COVID threw all students a curve, but they kept going.
“They had every reason to give up. They had every reason to not engage. But they still found a way to motivate themselves.”