Aaron Halsall knew what he wanted from high school before he even got there.
As a Grade 7, he keenly followed around his older brother, Robert, collecting tinned goods for a Christmas can drive organized by Woodlands Secondary School student council.
Looking back, there was never any doubt, then, that he would himself be a student council leader, a top graduate, one of this year’s Best and Brightest.
Halsall said his Grade 12 year at Woodlands last year felt a little different than the others.
“You’ve been kind of doing the same thing for 14 years and then finally you’re in your last year and you realize it’s going to be all different after that,” he said. “In my grad year, obviously I tried to have the best grades possible, but I tried to do as many other things, too, make it as fun as I could.”
Halsall played house-league soccer and high school volleyball, and was an all-star basketball player with the Eagles, one of the city’s top rebounders in 2012-13.
“I’ll always remember all those close games and even the not close games that we just had fun, and the big plays and stuff,” he said. “It’ll be a strong memory from high school.”
He tried to share his passion for school sports with his peers, as he organized pep rallies and tried to promote and support not only his own teams, but other Eagles teams too.
Outside the gymnasium, he provided service to his school in other ways, helping out with Grade 8 homeroom and Grade 9 peer tutoring.
His studies came first, and he excelled across the board, winning the Governor General’s Academic Medal for the highest average at his school. He was also recognized with Woodlands’ Top Science Student award and the Staff Award of Excellence. He earned a full-ride President’s Entrance Scholarship from Vancouver Island University, where he will study science like his older brother.
At a time when his alma mater is being considered for closure, Halsall pointed out how Woodlands gave him every opportunity to achieve his goals.
“Every high school student is going to like their high school the best,” he said. “It’s partly because of the students that were there, but the staff is just remarkable and all our administrators were always behind everything we ever wanted to do.”
And Halsall has always seemed to know what he wanted to do, ever since he tagged along behind his brother, collecting cans.
“I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps,” he said. “I have so far, and I’d like to continue.”