Week 14

Downsview Secondary School
Student of the Week
Week of January 6, 2020

Foyin A. & Valyn D.


Downsview, for the week of January 6th, your Students of the Week are Foyin A. and Valyn D.
Foyin and Valyn are both in the twelfth grade; this is their graduating year. All were members of the Black Brilliance Executive Team, and they are part of a larger team of recipients of this award.

Hear this, from Mr Wallace: “This year's Black Brilliance Conference Executive are exceptional as individuals and as a team. They are all people of character, committed to their learning, but also committed to their community, or rather communities. They do Downsview proud, but their reach goes far beyond these walls. They delivered, along with so many others, a wonderfully affirming, focused, hard-hitting conference. The voice of Black youth was heard with respect and celebration. Organizing an event of this magnitude can be a grind. Detail after detail have to be worked out. Relationships that produce trust and confidence must be nurtured. Other commitments must be managed on top of it all. At any moment, the temptation to walk away from the worry and stress can be strong. The sense of responsibility can be overwhelming. This group embraced the task and excelled. As workshop leaders, mentors, tone-setters and go to trouble-shooters, they responded to every challenge they faced. It continues to be an honour to work with these fine people; I feel very lucky.”

These students have earned this award in large part due to their ability to excel and produce as a team. It follows that they are individually strong. Mr Wallace continues with this: “Foyin is a dynamic high achiever, but she is no robot churning out strong work. She engages her heart with her intellect. The result is deep engagement. Never, though, is that engagement quiet. She demonstrates that the life of the mind can be loud, angry, and frustrating. Taking on big ideas is disruptive; to move forward with one's learning is to embrace struggle. For someone like Foyin, who is ambitious and can be impatient with herself, the struggle is accepted. She can whine, but she laughs more. Her example tells us that the struggle is real, but for all the discomfort, welcome. She has embraced the opportunities and challenges at Downsview, such as Black Brilliance, and we are all stronger for it.

Valyn is a quiet force. She is kind, loyal, and hard-working. That combination of empathy and determination infuses everything she does. Student Council, Black Brilliance, U of T See: what does Valyn not connect to? She is a team player who always contributes more than she gets. Her capacity to reach across boundaries is based on a deep insight about the humanity of all of us. You want Valyn on your team.”

The photo of our winners showcases these two students on their own. There is no adult standing by their side. This is intentional. While many adults supported this event, this student team lead the event. At the conference and in this photo, they strongly and confidently represent themselves. What an excellent way to start the new year, with the power of student voice front and centre. Congratulations once again to you, Valyn and Foyin, our Students of the Week.