Weyburn girl wins prestigious scholarship

Student attributes success to her teachers, community

Grade 12 student Arliss Sidloski celebrated “a fantastic Monday” on June 1 by doing a cartwheel into her father Kevin’s office after receiving two phone calls within hours of each other, informing her that she will receive two scholarships for the University of Saskatchewan this fall, worth a total of $130,000.

She attributes her academic success to the high quality of education she’s received in Weyburn, and to the community for the many opportunities that she’s had for music, athletics and volunteerism.

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Arliss first found out that she was awarded the Chancellors’ Entrance Scholarship for $30,000, paid out in instalments of $7,500 over four years.

A couple of hours later, Arliss received another call from the U of S, informing her that she was selected for the Schulich Leader Engineering Scholarship, worth $100,000, also paid out over a four-year period.

Each high school in Canada can only nominate one graduating student each year for this scholarship, and 50 are awarded for grads enrolling in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math program at one of 20 partner universities.

Her dad found out the good news as Arliss did a cartwheel into his home office, and ended up on top of his desk when she then told him all about it.

Arliss is enrolled in engineering, but hasn’t yet decided which branch of engineering she will end up with as a major. Due to her high marks in high school, she was guaranteed a spot in the engineering program.

She knows she’s in for some hard work, as a condition of the Chancellors’ Scholarship is that she has to maintain an average of 80 per cent each year to receive the payment.

She said she feels very humbled that she has received both of these scholarships, and paid tribute to a number of mentors and teachers who have had a big influence on her life, both at school and in the community.

A number of teachers wrote her a reference letter, but the main ones she used was by her band teacher, Tanya Cameron, along with one from Tyler Hillstead of Weyburn Minor Soccer.

“Most of my success is due to the passionate teachers at the Weyburn Comp and how they can inspire students to learn,” she said, pointing out as an example she is admittedly not an English student, but her AP English class helped her immensely to improve her writing skills.

Her Physics class was her favourite, and she loved doing the demonstrations and experiments devised by her teacher, Karen Kennedy-Allin, such as the marshmallow launchers and ball-bearing rollercoasters.

Arliss also enjoyed the shop classes, including learning all about welding from teacher Rod Nieviadomy (who also wrote a reference letter for her).

“They definitely helped build my character,” said Arliss of shop, adding with a laugh, “That’s what my parents called them, character builders.”

“The Comp has a really flexible learning environment, which enabled me to do my math online through the Cyber Stone virtual school,” she said.

Among her many extracurricular activities, she is a piano student, working on her Grade 10 exam with teacher Cherith Alexander, plus she teaches a group of nine students, plus she took part in all the school music programs, from band to the Rise Choir and musicals, most of them with Tanya Cameron.

“I don’t know how she does it all,” said Arliss, adding, “We are fortunate we have so many high-level music teachers in Weyburn,” noting she takes piano, voice, speech arts and music theory with various instructors who are all based here.

On the athletics side, she was also able to compete at the highest level in soccer, basketball and track.

“It’s a testament to all the fantastic teachers and all the volunteering they do. Without them, I never would have been able to do all that,” she added.

“I’ve been playing soccer since I was four. My mom has always been a coach, so I started helping her coach young teams, and I started reffing as well,” said Arliss, adding she helped Hillstead coach players in the U7 and U9 age categories, as well as coaching of three and four-year-olds in the Happy Feet soccer program.

She helped Hillstead establish the All Abilities indoor soccer program, the first of its kind in Saskatchewan, with some of the children she worked with at Inclusion Weyburn taking part in this program.

“Weyburn is such a supportive community, and they have been receptive of organizations that help others,” she noted, pointing out the Rotary Club was another example, as through this service club she was able to take part in the Adventures in Citizenship program in Ottawa last year.

All of these people and groups have “set an example for me of how to build a community and give opportunities to youth,” said Arliss, adding she will continue with her volunteering as she’s able in the coming months, “depending on what opportunities will open up.”

Having visited larger centres like Regina and Saskatoon, she has appreciation that Weyburn “is small enough I can do everything,” where in a place like Saskatoon, if she volunteers for one organization she would be tied to them.

Meantime, she will be at home for at least the first semester of university, as the U of S has stated their classes will be online probably until Christmas. Arliss pointed out that she’ll at least be familiar with the programs needed, after taking the supplemental learning from the Weyburn Comp through Microsoft Teams.

For grad coming up on Saturday, June 27, she will be giving the tribute to the teachers and the school by video, as the ceremonies will be virtual this year. Teacher Donna Klein will be giving the reply for the teachers.