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Sustainability essay honoured internationally

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An environmentally-savvy student from Winnipeg is now on the international map.

Jonathan Lee, a Grade 12 student at St. John’s-Ravenscourt, received an honourable mention in the Trust for Sustainable Living 2014 International Schools Essay Competition — Secondary School age category.

Lee, 18, was one of 1,094 entries from 420 schools which entered the competition.

"When Mr. (Matt) Henderson (Lee’s Global Issues instructor) gave me the assignment I really didn’t know the full extent of it," Lee said. "I wrote about sustainability, which has been the main focus in our global issues class this year and I basically wrote about steps which we as a global society can take to create a sustainable planet."

His 500-word piece certainly caught wind internationally.

"This year, we received more than a thousand essays from students in over 70 countries around the world, a great many of which contained a huge array of imaginative ideas for sustainable living, in addition to being of excellent quality and composition," said Karl Hansen, director at The Living Rainforest (Trust for Sustainable Living) in Berkshire, England.

"The Trust for Sustainable Living’s 2014 International Schools Essay Competition and Debate has a very strong international perspective which gives students the opportunity to work with some of the best young minds around, drawing inspiration from others, sharing knowledge and fostering co-operation.

"We therefore very much hope to see Jonathan participating in our International Schools Debate which will take place in the United Kingdom in July."

Lee, a resident of Tuxedo, was excited and grateful to hear the news.

"Oh, I was ecstatic. I was over the moon," Lee said. "I was on spring break when I got the email from Mr. Henderson. I was so surprised. I looked at this as a regular global issues assignment and the judges took note of my work, which I am very grateful for."

Lee credits much of his success to Henderson, who has meant a lot to him over his tenure at the school.

"He’s incredible," said Lee, who was taught Canadian history and law by Henderson in the past. "I was lucky enough to wind up in his global issues (class) this year. I would think he is the most important teacher that I have had. He really gets the students to care about what they are learning about and engages them."

Henderson said he is proud of his enthusiastic pupil.

"Jon’s essay really speaks to his transformation in terms of his ability to see himself as part of many systems on Earth," Henderson said.

"He has really become ecologically literate and a critical thinker through the global issues course. He has also become a wonderful writer in the last two years that I have worked with him."

An avid fan of the TV show Suits, Lee is Head Boy at SJR — a liaison between the student body and the school’s administration — and is head of the SJR student council. Outside of school, Lee participates in track and field, training five days a week at the University of Manitoba.

Lee said he unfortunately won’t be making the trip to the U.K. for a formal ceremony as he is preparing to head to the Richard Ivey School of Business at University of Western  Ontario, in London, Ont. this fall. He said in five years, he would like to be coming out of Western with his honours in business administration and get a job in Toronto.

"I want to be in marketing, finance or anything like that," Lee said.

"I want to be in business, whatever that will look like."

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