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'Incredible' students up for Orillia Young Woman of the Year award

Emily Hawton, Alyssa Mandarino and Julianne Pires up for annual honour from OBWA; 'I can’t believe what they’ve accomplished at such a young age,' official says

Three exceptional high-school students have been nominated for the Lisa Brooking Young Woman of the Year award.

Emily Hawton (Twin Lakes Secondary School), Alyssa Mandarino (Orillia Secondary School) and Julianne Pires (Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School) are up for the award that is given annually by the Orillia Business Women’s Association (OBWA).

The award recognizes a high-school senior who goes above and beyond as both a student and volunteer, and this year’s nominees certainly meet the criteria, said OBWA president Shelle Hossack.

“I can’t believe what they’ve accomplished at such a young age,” she said. “Besides their school work and volunteer work, they work jobs. They’re just incredible young ladies.”

The winner is announced alongside the Nelle Carter Woman of the Year recipient during a gala. This year’s event was scheduled for May 13, but it has been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The gala will go ahead once restrictions on gatherings are lifted or lessened.

“I didn’t want to see that class of 2020 miss out on the opportunity,” Hossack said. “It’s really important, especially now.”

OBWA members are all about supporting and promoting each other, and the nominees for Young Woman of the Year will become role models even more than they currently are, she said.

“They’re going to be those supporters and promoters,” she said. “Every year, we see the up-and-coming young women who are the women of the future. It’s quite phenomenal to see what they’ve done.”

About the nominees

Emily Hawton has been on the honour roll with distinction every year in high school, maintaining an average of more than 90 per cent.

She is also a member of the Sustainable Orillia Youth Council, serving as the representative for Twin Lakes. As part of the youth council, she started the Boomerang Bag Project. The hand-made, reusable bags are made from textiles donated by the community. They are placed at participating stores as an alternative to plastic bags, and customers can return them when they’re done using them.

She currently serves as minister of the environment on the Twin Lakes student council. She has also participated in athletics, music, school productions and more while working part-time jobs.

Her goal is to study environmental sustainability at Lakehead University, followed by advertising and marketing at Georgian College.

Alyssa Mandarino has held a spot on the honour roll all through her time at Orillia Secondary School.

She is a member of her school’s student council and LINK crew, which sees her assisting Grade 8 students who are about to enter high school.

She volunteers at Orchard Park Public School, has helped with daycare bake sales, and has volunteered to reshelve books at the Orillia Public Library as well as usher at the Orillia Opera House. She has amassed 230 hours of community service toward her graduation requirements.

She wants to become a lawyer and plans to study criminal justice at the University of Guelph.

Julianne Pires has been an honour-roll student since she started Grade 9 at Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School. With a love of learning, she studies at the demanding academic/university level.

She has served as a mentor for incoming Grade 9 students. She has also helped organize the school’s annual Fall Harvest Dinner and Market, has taken a leadership role in producing the yearbook, has served as a school photographer and produced promotional videos that help with the transition to high school for Grade 8 students.

Since she was in elementary school, she has helped with the annual Christmas Wish Dinner at Guardian Angels Church, when community members are invited for a full Christmas meal and are sent home with a gift bag filled with essentials.

She plans to study commerce at the University of Ottawa.


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Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the desk editor for Village Media's central Ontario news desk in Simcoe County and Newmarket.
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