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All-around excellence

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Maples Collegiate co-principal Verland Force, valedictorian Divya Punj, and school co-principal Blair Peppler.

PHOTO BY RON TUREK Enlarge Image

Maples Collegiate co-principal Verland Force, valedictorian Divya Punj, and school co-principal Blair Peppler. Photo Store

The amazing Divya Punj is no ordinary student; she shines at almost everything she does.

Divya, the 2013 valedictorian for Maples Collegiate, has had a most exciting high school career. Always a keen student, Divya topped the scholarship list with four awards. However, Divya’s series of stellar sports and student involvements is where she is truly "ahead of her class."

In her breezy valedictory address, Divya said: "I wish that the graduates here today, in our hats and gowns, will go on to achieve greater heights, not only for ourselves, but for those all around us and those yet to come."

Divya’s student involvement set a high mark at the Maples Collegiate. As president of the student council, her leadership and advocacy gave students a strong voice and a direct line of
communication to administrators and the superintendent. Together,they affected several positive changes for students and her school — including renovations to the school’s washrooms and the building of a new student commons area.

Divya is especially proud of her school’s Eco Club. The green initiative involves homeroom teachers leading the sustainability practice and students taking the responsibility to regularly clean-up the school grounds.

Manoj Nowrang, vice principal at Maples Collegiate said: "Divya is a natural in sports. She is a remarkable student that inspires her peers."

In badminton, Divya was ranked seventh in the province. She was the only Manitoban nominated to the national cricket team. She captained both the varsity basketball and volleyball teams. And, though she is not an imposing figure, she also scores big in shot put and javelin. She somehow even finds time to volunteer at Seven Oaks General Hospital.   

Divya’s parents, who immigrated from India in 1980, support her multiple sports activities, but on one condition — that education be her first priority.

With a University of Winnipeg entrance scholarship in hand, Divya is all geared up to study science at the U of W this September.

"Maples Collegiate has provided us (graduates) with a solid platform to build on, and to establish ourselves as successful citizens of the world," she said.

Derek Dabee is a community correspondent for The Maples. You can contact him at ddabee@mymts.net.

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