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PECI in the spotlight with two Great Place Awards

Mayor Peter Mertens with Great Place Award winners Cassidy Allison and Nancy Etmanski and Educator of the Year Rob Garden.

This year’s Education Week celebrations ended in a trifecta for Prince Edward Collegiate Institute. On the heels of business and math teacher Rob Garden winning the Educator of the Year Award,  the secondary school is home to two prestigious Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board Great Place Award winners.

“It’s almost overwhelming,” says PECI principal Shelley MacKenzie-Coates. “We’re just so excited as a school that three of our own are being recognized by these wonderful awards. There are only about 10 of Great Place awards distributed throughout the entire board so for PECI to have two recipients is very exciting.”

While students gathered in the school library, education assistant Nancy Etmanski and student Cassidy Allison were standing by. Nancy believed she was attending to support Cassidy, and Cassidy believed she was to deliver a speech about Nancy.

Great Place Awards honour people who go the extra mile to make the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board a great place to learn and work.

The school board’s Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer, Thelma Goodfellow, trustee, and Mayor Mertens joined students, staff and winners’ family members for the surprise celebration.

“This is an occasion,” said Goodfellow. “The great place awards is the highest award given to people in the Hastings Prince Edward District School Board for going above and beyond.”

And the recipients were surprised.

“I’m not often speechless but I am today,” said Etmanski. “I was totally shocked. PECI is such a great place to work. There’s so much going on here and it’s such a great place. There’s always something to engage the students and I’m honoured to be part of the staff.”

“I know it’s a huge honour to receive a Great Place Award,” said Allison. “I never expected to be honoured by the board and by the mayor.”

Etmanski was nominated by Rob Garden, Kelly MacKay and Heather Munroe. Allison was nominated by Mayor Peter Mertens.

In her role as educational assistant, Etmanski works with students who have challenges or are at-risk and is also an advocate for the students in the community.
“Nancy Etmanski empowers students every day with her positive attitude and her ‘never quit’ attitude,” her nominators stated. “She is always inclusive and willing to go the extra mile for staff and students.”

Etmanski is involved with many extra-curricular activities within PECI and throughout the community. She is a lead member o the PECI Girls Group which works to help girls establish and grow their self-esteem. She was also involved with the PECI Prom Project and supported student efforts in the annual fashion show, musical and theatrical productions.

“Nancy is an advocate for special education and her belief that those who work in this vital part of public education should do so with reverence, respect and integrity,” her nominators note. “She gently reminds many people in the education world that everyone counts and should be treated as such… She has a way of making things possible when it may have seemed not so. She embodies a positive attitude every day.”

Mayor Mertens nominated Allison’s significant contributions as PECI’s Student Council Co-president, noting she led the students in numerous school and community events, including the Terry Fox Run and Relay for Life. Her highlight project was the planning, filming and production of PECI’s “lip dub” video involving more than 700 students and staff. The project was the first of its kind at the secondary level in Ontario and has more than 9,000 views through YouTube.
“Cassidy does what is right for herself and others,” Mertens said. “She acts with consideration of others and is very inclusive of the entire student body when organizing events.”
Mertens also pointed out her more than 200 hours of community involvement, including more than 50 hours as a program assistant in the Prince Edward County Figure Skating CanSkate and Pre-CanSkate programs.
“Cassidy is a hardworking and mature young lady who has made a lasting impression in her school and community,” said Mertens. “She is driven with a passion to contribute in an altruistic manner. Cassidy does not seek glory or recognition for the projects that she leads… Cassidy’s work captured the intangible spirit of the entire County of Prince Edward as well as our County’s school.”

Police officers who work as school response officers will also be honoured with Great Place Awards including constables Kim Guthrie and Nicole Lott, of the Prince Edward Ontario Provincial Police.

Another look at the Lip Dub:

Filed Under: Hastings & Prince Edward District School BoardLocal NewsPECI - It's a Panther Thing

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