From the moment Jay Panchal saw a behind-the-scenes special feature on Monsters Inc., the then-eight-year-old knew animation was what he wanted to do.
It was only recently the Dover Bay student realized his dream is also telling stories.
Panchal, 17, has set his sights on art and animation, with plans to get into Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont. and eventually make his way to California.
“I am hoping to make positive change on this planet – a far-fetched goal,” he said, with a laugh. “But it’s what my heart is telling me to do … I want to make stories and I want to share stories in whatever form, any form of storytelling that moves people, that inspires people, that brings people to action of any kind.”
The teen, who moved with his family from India to Canada when he was two, has spent a lot of his time at high school volunteering around art, public speaking and sharing messages.
He’s designed posters for school plays and he was the mastermind behind Dover Bay’s new dolphin logo. He was also a facilitator with the Canadian Red Cross’ Beyond the Hurt program, where he made presentations to younger students on how to prevent bullying and harassment, and he helped the school Eco Club handle correspondence, communication and school presentations. Most recently he’s leading a mural project on the school’s garden shed.
If students don’t know Panchal for the work he does at the school, then they’ll recognize his voice. He kicks off daily announcements with his catchphrase ‘Goooood morning Dover Bay’ ringing out over the loud speakers as he runs over the day’s events.
“I love public speaking, it’s so cool,” said Panchal, who admits he also doesn’t like that nerve-racking feeling before giving a speech in front of a crowd but still finds it exhilarating. “It’s like being on a rollercoaster.”
If he’s not sharing messages, Panchal plays the trombone for a small music group called Artistic Differences and is a black belt in karate, which means mentoring younger students.
“My week is always completely full,” he said.
Don Balcombe, principal at Dover Bay, says Panchal is a big presence in the school and seeks out opportunities to contribute whether it’s musical theatre, playing trombone or involvement in the Eco Club.
“I think younger students aspire to be as involved, make as big a contribution. He truly leads by example,” he said.
As for his graduating class, they’re making good use of his love of storytelling – he’s just been named valedictorian.
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