“She just brightens our hallways.”
Those are the words of principal Adam Moore.
This is Moore’s first year in that position at Langley Fundamental Secondary School, but when he arrived at the school in September, he quickly learned all about Grade 12 student Laura Stead.
And on Thursday night, the rest of the community also discovered just who the 17-year-old is as Stead was the recipient of the Township of Langley’s Pete Swensson Outstanding Community Youth Award.
She received the award at the Township’s annual Volunteer Appreciation night on April 5 at the Langley Events Centre.
For her part, Stead was surprised to win, especially after hearing her fellow nominees’ bios.
“I was so inspired and impressed by all the nominees,” she said. “It was huge for me just to be nominated.”
The award is presented to a Grade 11 or 12 Langley high school student to recognize athletic achievements, scholastic effort, community involvement and personal qualities. The award is in memory of Pete Swensson, an internationally recognized athlete from Langley who began the Langley Walk.
The other nominees were Alana Collmann (DW Poppy), Annika Szarka (Langley Fine Arts), Brodie Hofer (Langley Christian), Colin Ulle (Brookswood), Dannon Sturn (Walnut Grove), Jennifer Chu (RE Mountain) and Kalyn Hartmann (Langley Secondary).
Stead is a straight-A student who has earned the top student award in a dozen classes over the past three years. Athletically, she has starred on the Langley Fundamental volleyball and basketball teams since Grade 6, and has received the Tracy Bansham Memorial Scholarship while also earning several most inspirational player awards.
She is also involved with the school’s music program as both a vocalist and alto saxophone player and starred in the lead role in her school’s production of Beauty and the Beast.
Her outstanding work is not limited to just her school, either, as Stead has been heavily involved in her community, volunteering in the children’s ministry program at Langley Evangelical Free Church since 2014 and working at summer camps as a cabin leader and a counsellor in training.
These are just a snapshot of Stead’s extracurricular activities.
It was the efforts of her own councillors and church leaders who showed Stead the importance of giving back to your community.
“They just really poured into me as a kid and helped me develop my confidence and my personality and everything like that,” Stead explained.
“I just really wanted to continue it. I love that kind of environment, working with people, and I wanted to be a leader because I really looked up to the leaders I had.”
“The reason she is such a great leader is just because of her huge heart — people respond to that,” Moore explained.
“She has just bent over backwards and given up her own time and energy to do that.”
And while Stead is being lauded for her kindness and compassion — she is always rushing to help a teammate or opponent up off the floor — she also displays a fierce competitiveness.
“She is this incredible combination of a competitor when she hits the floor and kind, soft and compassionate the rest of the time,” Moore marvelled. “You don’t often see the two sides of the coin — the kindness and compassion and then the grit and the fierceness on the court.
“It is pretty amazing to see those attributes so prevalent in one person.”
As her high school days wind down, Stead plans on studying at Trinity Western University in the fall after being accepted into the nursing program.