As Isaac Burdge stands outside Lake Cowichan School talking with the presenters of the Rotary Club of Duncan’s Student of the Month Award for February, it becomes clear immediately that he’s not just an ordinary student.
Other students file past on their way out the door and home, and many of them, of all ages, say hi or wave to Burdge.
As teacher Sean Battye attests, Burdge, who is in Grade 11, is well-known throughout the student body, from grades 4 to 12.
Burdge has emerged as a leader among students at LCS, and that’s not an accident.
He explains as he gestures toward another student nearby, “When I was his age, I didn’t have anyone to look up to like that. I just treat everyone the way I want to be treated.”
It’s not that Burdge was bullied or anything. He just didn’t have any role models at the school.
“I was treated fine. I just never had anyone to look up to,” he explained. “I thought, ‘I want to be that guy.'”
A self-described “quiet kid” in Grade 8, Burdge had an epiphany the following summer.
“I did a leadership program at camp and decided that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
He now has his sights set on obtaining a degree in child and youth care, and maybe becoming a youth pastor. He’s already been training informally at Camp Imadene, where he lives, and where his dad is the program director. Burdge became a full-time staff member last year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the camp to alter its plans and offer day programs instead of having campers stay on site.
In addition to his leadership efforts, Burdge is visible at the school as photographer for the journalism class, and started helping out with the lunch program when he noticed that one person had to do it all by herself.
That’s not to mention his academic efforts.
“As a teacher, he’s great to have in the classroom,” Battye said. “He’s always adding to classroom discussions.”
Battye taught Burdge last semester in Genocide 12, and has him this semester in his Socials 11 and Law 12 classes.
“I’m looking forward to having him in Social Justice 12 next year,” Battye added.
When it came time for staff members at LCS to name the Student of the Month for February, Burdge was a no-brainer.
“It was instant when we heard the criteria,” Battye said. “We’re very proud of Isaac. He’s perfect for the award.
“You wouldn’t have one staff member who would disagree with what I said.”
The feelings are mutual, as Burdge has a deep appreciation for the LCS staff.
“The teachers here are phenomenal,” he said.
Burdge was pleased to get recognition from his school.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “It shows that I guess I’m doing something right.”