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Gordon Bell High School celebrates Our Stories of Hope

June 5, 2024
 April 30, 2024, Gala Opening with words from Janice Millar

On April 30, 2024, more than 250 members of the Gordon Bell Community, along with many community members, family and friends and distinguished guests, gathered at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to celebrate this year’s annual Our Stories of Hope Project. This celebration of stories is a fairly new project for Gordon Bell High School. Starting back in 2021, an idea brought up by Peter Leipsic, a local business innovator and philanthropist, wanted to give students of Gordon Bell an opportunity to be uplifted and inspire others through the sharing of stories. Three years later, this project continues to do just that and more for multiple students. It has allowed students to have artistic freedom in sharing and bringing light to a story centered around the themes of hope and resilience. 

Stories submitted can vary from touching on grief and loss, childhood, lived experiences, culture, traditions, and numerous others. Each year, students submit their stories and present them through a medium of their choice. Whether that be a literary piece, video composition or other personalized art piece. Award recipients receive monetary bursaries. This year will be the second year in which selected students have had their stories showcased and celebrated at a gala event at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The opportunity to celebrate at such an event is significant to the recipients, celebrating their strength and perseverance. With the support of Technical Vocational High School, Gordon Bell students involved in the project received the chance to make videos to bring their stories to life. Tec Voc students and their teachers were also instrumental in running the sound and video for the gala event.

Two of this year’s Our Stories Of Hope award recipients, Divine Favour Ogunrewo and Salam Karim Alddin, express why the project is meaningful to them. Their stories were two of the 17 stories celebrated and showcased at this year’s gala on April 30th. 

“Our Stories of Hope project gives us a way to express our emotions and our struggles and how we overcome them. I wanted to inspire others to know that with great adversities and complex environments, great things can still emerge from the individual who experienced them. I want to show the world the power that comes from a troubled past. Participating in our stories of hope is one step closer to achieving my goal. I’m excited to attend the gala because being awarded first in my category not only celebrates my achievements but also gives me a platform to share my journey, showcasing the struggles I’ve overcome and the path that has shaped me into the person I am today,” said Salam Karim Alddin. 

Our Stories of Hope has continually been an astounding opportunity for students at Gordon Bell High School, creating a space for sharing experiences of growth, hope, and determination.

“The Stories of Hope project is important to me because it reminds me that even in our darkest moments, there is always a glimmer of light to guide us forward. It helped me deal with my grief by showing me that an outlet for dealing with my grief was to write about it, process it and feel the underlying emotions I might have ignored,” said Divine Favour Ogunrewo.

Celeste Onipe (Grade 11, former winner) Salam Karim Alddin (Grade 12 category winner) and Erika Lengsavath (writer and former winner).

Gordon Bell Senior High Choir, directed by Kelsey Shiaro, accompanied by Kimberly Lapatha (piano) and Willa McPhail (Grade 9 student, violin)

This article has been written by Gordon Bell High School's Grade 11 student, Erika Lengsavath.

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