EDHS announces its Governor General award winner

- Josh Birch is no stranger to achieving academic excellence -

Recent EDHS grad Josh Birch earned the coveted Governor General Award for having achieved the highest average from grade 11 and 12 combined.

by Sylene Argent

When recent Essex District High School student Josh Birch learned he won the coveted Governor General award, he was surprised, yet excited all his hard work was recognized.

  The Governor General award is presented to a grade 12 graduating student who earned the highest average in grade 11 and 12 combined.

  Though Birch was surprised at the announcement, he is no stranger to receiving recognition for his academic achievements as he earned the Proficiency Award in grade 10. Each year, the high school hands out a Proficiency Award to the top student in each grade.

  When Birch received a phone call from EDHS Department Head of Student Services, Mrs. Ouellette, just after graduation, his immediate reaction was, “What did I do?”

  After having a chance to catch his breath and learn about the reason for the call, that moment of question turned into one wrapped in excitement as he learned about his most recent accomplishment.

  “I was just super happy and I guess proud of myself that I was able to do it,” the humble recent grad said.

The surprise of winning the award did not come from doubt in his academic abilities as he said he always tries his best; it was because there were a lot of really smart people in his class. He said those individuals pushed him to work and try harder throughout the school-year. Even though they were all competing for that top spot, they supported each other, too.

For Birch, high school offered four good years of learning. “I definitely made some good memories there, but I am excited to move away and start a new chapter in my life,” he said.

  This fall, Birch will attend the University of Waterloo to work towards obtaining a Bachelors in Mathematics, with a focus on actuarial science. He said this subject basically uses different statistical methods to determine risk.

He is looking forward to taking the program and engaging in its cooperative opportunities to get some hands-on experience. He will also enjoy being able to use an entrance scholarship, which will help him out a bit financially.

When selecting what he wanted to study post-secondary, Birch knew exactly what he wanted to do. “Math is my favourite subject. I like the problem solving. It is challenging.”

While at university, he said he is sure he will find a couple of clubs to join. He is excited to learn more math concepts, make more friends, and enjoy the overall experience of attending university.

  In leaving behind his days as a Red Raider, Birch said he will miss the people there the most.

  One component that stood out to him this past school-year is when his calculus teacher ran a math contest, which he found challenging.

  Though many others may not enjoy math, Birch said there are two top two things he always focuses on to excel in this subject, which others can use to their advantage, too: have a positive mindset when setting out to solve a problem and take the time to practice. He urged those struggling in this school subject to look at math as problems that need to be conquered, not just a question in a textbook.

Earning the Governor General award for EDHS was a great confidence booster for Birch, which is helping him believe he can definitely excel at the university level, too.