The Rotary Club of Penticton Okanagan has launched a high school student recognition program — the Student of the Month.
The award recognizes outstanding students for their unique combinations of achievements in academics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership and service to others.
“The purpose of the award is to highlight young people who exemplify Rotary’s universal code of ethics — honesty, fairness, goodwill and helpfulness,” said club president Mac Paterson, adding Rotarians understand the importance of the community’s youth.
The Rotary Club of Penticton-Okanagan is partnering with Penticton Secondary School in initiating the program, aided by a financial contribution and input from Gateway Casinos as part of their proactive involvement in wide-ranging community service projects. Each selected student will receive a $100 gift certificate and be formally recognized both at a regular Rotary Club meeting and with their name inscribed on a plaque in Pen High’s entrance display cabinet.
The first recipient is Connor Trovao, a senior student in the Food Studies Department at Penticton High School. He is described as an excellent cafeteria student by Pen High principal Alan Stel. Trovao is refining his skills and enhancing his learning by working as an apprentice at Earl’s Restaurant. He volunteered for the Soupateria Souper Sunday competition, where he enjoyed the competitive spirit and contributing to a good cause. Trovao is also a volunteer with the BC Winter Games preparing meals and lunchboxes for the participants.
“It’s really nice to be recognized for something other than athletics. This involves other factions around the school,” said Trovao after learning of his selection.
He plans to enrol in the Okanagan College Culinary Arts program in Kelowna to further his education and become a Red Seal Chef. Once certified, he would like to find a position in a local restaurant with the ambition of owning his own restaurant one day.
It’s what he has learned from his high school mentor, chef Chris Garvey that has been his greatest inspiration to follow his culinary dreams.
“I didn’t know a ton about cooking from prior experience but chef Garvey at the cafeteria has been really good at showing us different techniques and stuff and things to make that no one has really tried here,” said Trovao.
One of his real thrills was taking part in the first annual Soupateria Souper Sunday competition where two chefs squared off to see who could make the best soups as judged by the many needy people who go to the centre for their midday meal. Trovao was paired with executive chef David Stern of Theo’s Restaurant, working as his sous chef.
“It wasn’t the first, but definitely one of the better kitchen experiences to be able to work side by side with professional chefs to see all the techniques they use and the strategies,” said Trovao. “It definitely strengthened my perspective on what I want to do, it gave more insight of what I can do and what I am able to do.”
Trovao is described as a quiet leader. He knows when to work, when to make suggestions and when to step up and help others. When asked how his friends would describe him, Trovao thought “quiet and understanding” would likely be the words that would come more often, while he describes himself as “curious and shy.” One of the accomplishments he is most proud of is to be the only male recognized for his academic achievements in middle school.
Trovao enjoys combining things to create something different, and has discovered that chemistry class provides great learning. His passion for food stimulates his creative juices and when asked what was his favourite course of a meal is, with no hesitation, the main course was the winner as it provides an amazing array of presentations and taste. Like his classmates, Trovao’s most enjoyable challenge this year was preparing a turkey dinner for 800 people under the supervision of chef Garvey.
The commitment he brings to his studies, combined with an eagerness to explore new ideas, makes him successful at what he attempts.
Watch for the Rotary Club of Penticton-Okanagan Student of the Month each month in the Penticton Western News.