Sandra Rainville was a very proud mom on February 7 when her daughter, Grace Couchie-Rainville, was named as one of 5 recipients of the 2022 Great Students Awards bestowed by the North Bay Rotary Club. Grace is a 17-year-old student in Grade 12 at St-Joseph Scollard Hall Secondary School. She is one of the many students who bus from West Nipissing every day to attend the English Catholic school in North Bay.
Every year the Rotary Club honours senior students from each secondary school in North Bay for their involvement in community volunteerism, students who reflect the Rotary International (RI) motto of “Service Above Self”. The club strives to instill this philosophy of unselfish volunteer service in both its own members and the community at large. Each of the five students received a plaque honouring their efforts as well as a gift of $100. “Students who best exemplify “Service Above Self”, are selected based on the warmth and caring exhibited towards their peers or other members of our society, such as seniors, disabled or disadvantaged.”
Grace’s mother explains that each school’s recipient is nominated by the teachers and principal based on the Rotary Club’s criteria. “Grace has over 500 hours of volunteer time – we’re not exactly sure how many because some get mixed up there is so many. She is the student trustee for the North Bay Parry Sound Catholic District School Board… She’s also on the student council. She has organized several events, the hockey game with the Battalion for National Indigenous Day being one. She’s very involved. The Niigan Summer Camp for Youth, she’s volunteered at that camp from 12-years-old, and been going there since she was two.” That camp is operated by her grandfather George Couchie.
When asked what inspires Grace to be so giving of her time and effort, Sandra responds, “They do what you do. They see their parents, and that’s where it starts – at home. When the gentleman [Bob Cunningham from Rotary] read out for each student all their volunteer hours and the service they provided, it was like geez, it’s only 4 years of high school, but you [Grace] have done a lot. To have it all wrapped up, even for Grace, it was ‘Wow!’ To be able to sit back and see what she has accomplished in her high school career – she was happy with it. I’m a very proud mom, and [Grace] never does it for the reward or any kind of recognition. She does it because it’s what she likes to do.”