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Mary in Grade 9

A Pickering College student with an entrepreneurial spirit is making some waves globally.

Yawen (Mary) Liu, a Grade 9 student from Aurora, recently won the 2022 Young Entrepreneurs Festival, an international competition that showcases students’ entrepreneurship skills. Students are challenged to develop a business idea, and market and promote it with a goal of launching a business by the conclusion of the competition.

Mary won with a business idea that was borne out of the pandemic. She developed a non-profit enterprise called “Toronto Virtual Tutoring” that matches students looking for volunteer hours with elementary school students in need of tutoring support, who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

“I know that a lot of high schoolers were looking for volunteer hours, especially online. And [due to the pandemic] a lot of families were either financially struggling or at least not as well off as before. So, I came up with the idea of online tutoring where high schoolers would tutor the elementary students for free,” Mary explains.

“The sheer ingenuity and community building in her idea, along with absolutely perfect implementation, were what won her the competition,” says Hasina Lookman, CEO of Explorer Hop, a global education hub that promotes financial literacy and entrepreneurship in students. Explorer Hop hosts the annual entrepreneurship competition that saw 1000 students from 15 countries participate.

In addition, Mary was recently part of the Canadian team that competed in the Wharton Global High School Investment Competition, an opportunity through the University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School for youth to use and build their analytical, teamwork and communication skills through the world of investing. More than 5000 students around the world participate each year, preparing a portfolio that meets the needs of clients to win their business. Mary and her team placed in the top 5% worldwide.

“It was a really challenging and interesting learning journey,” Mary says. “I was in situations that I had not experienced before, and it pushed me to problem solve and stay calm. It taught me a lot of skills and basic knowledge of investing, and how different things happening around the world connect to the stock market.”

Sustainable stitches event

On Wednesday, February 10, Grade 12 students Shyam and Brooklyn hosted Sustainable Stitches, a fashion event designed to draw attention to the pernicious implications of fast fashion on the world both ethically, and environmentally.  The event showcased many talented and hardworking designers from around our community to help highlight the sustainable choices in fashion that are all around us. 

“Given the ubiquity of fast fashion and the fact that we can buy a new outfit on SHEIN for cheaper than a meal at McDonald’s, it is in the hands of us as consumers to hold fast fashion brands accountable for their behavior.” – Brooklyn and Shyam

Audience members saw three designers showcase their collections, explaining their design ethic and how sustainability is important to their process and outcomes. Then, Shyam and Brooklyn led a Q&A panel for audience members to learn more about areas of interest. At the end of the event, audience members were invited to visit the designers at a reception where their work was on display and could be seen up close. Students and guests were very engaged and spent a lot of time discussing the items with the designers. Guests were also treated to hot drinks and baked treats from Fleets Coffee, a very generous gesture from the Tobias family.

Designers highlighted included:

Ethan Cordner:

Lior Iliaev:

Megan Glanfield (Revolution Now):

As guests were socializing at the end of the event, many commented on how impactful it was. Well done Shyam and Brooklyn!

Holocaust survivor shares his story

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to host guest speaker Andy Réti, a child Holocaust survivor who was born in Hungary in 1942. His poignant presentation provided our students with a first-hand account of the horrors faced by his family at the hands of the Nazis, and the twists of fate that allowed himself and his mother to survive. We are deeply grateful to Andy for sharing his story, and pledge our collective commitment to ensure hate does not grow so that events like the Holocaust never happen again. 

Afterwards, he visited Mr. Thompson’s Grade 10 Canadian History Class for a Q&A with the students. In addition, he presented each student in the class with a copy of his book, Stronger Together, where he inscribed a personalized message – an amazing gesture!