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Top honours for Cape Dorset grad
Ama Alariaq presented with Governor General's Academic Medal for highest academic average in class

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Good grades earned graduating student Ama Alariaq more than just a high school diploma. She received a bronze medal from Rideau Hall as well.

NNSL photo/graphic

South Baffin MLA Fred Schell, left, presents the Governor General's Academic Medal to Ama Alariaq, who graduated with the highest academic average from Peter Pitseolak School in Cape Dorset this year. The graduation ceremony was held June 22. - photo courtesy of Timmun Alariaq

The Governor's General Academic Medal is awarded to the high school student with the highest academic average. At the high school level, students are awarded a bronze medal.

Alariaq received the medal, to her surprise, when she graduated from Peter Pitseolak School in Cape Dorset on June 22.

"I knew I was good in school but I just didn't think I'd ever get the governor general's medal," she said. "It means a lot because getting the medal, only a few people in Canada get it. I just was happy to get it because it shows, I guess, a sign of excellence and I exceeded in high school and stuff like that."

The 16-year-old also received school awards for outstanding student and for mathematics and English achievements.

Principal Ed Sheppard was all praises for Alariaq.

"Generally, (Alariaq is a) very responsible student and able to work very well on her own, in addition to working well with other people," he said.

Alariaq is the youngest of four with one brother and three sisters. She was born in Iqaluit and raised in Cape Dorset until the age of 13, when she moved to London, Ont., to attend Grade 8 at a private boarding school. She returned to Cape Dorset and moved again in December 2009, to Regina for Grade 10. She then moved back to Cape Dorset. She is trying to apply at Fanshawe College in London for the fall.

She currently works part time at both the Northern store and Huit Huit Tours. She said having a job allows her to stay organized and plan for the future.

"It just keeping my mind focused on something and then I guess, I can do anything I want," said Alariaq.

Adding on to her talents are her artistic skills. She painted a mural depicting a five-dog sled team near the gym, earning her school credits. Alariaq stated she choose to paint a dog team because her parent used to own between 12 to 16 dogs until the expenses of feeding to team forced the family to part with them last year. Alariaq said she is more used to sketching so the project of painting a mural was a challenge.

"By painting the mural at the school, I guess I left fingerprints of one of my favourite pastimes and a part of our culture just on the wall," stated Alariaq via e-mail.

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