Shads share impressive campfire stories
By Aimee Sheppard
Jennifer Sault and Kris Montano are enjoying their summer camp experience at Memorial and the friendships, fun and inside jokes that come with it. However, with resumes that outline international aid projects and adventures, the two are not your typical campers.
Kris Montano and Jennifer Sault are excited to share their stories of backpacking through Costa Rica and building schools in the Philippines with participants in the Shad Valley program at Memorial. Their tales of adventure and philanthropy become that much more impressive when you discover they are only 17 years old.
The teens are typical of the students you’ll find in Shad Valley, a four-week academic program for outstanding senior high schoolers. Shad incorporates entrepreneurship with engineering, information technologies, mathematics, science, and students participate in a variety of challenging lectures, workshops and group projects
“On the first day, I thought ‘Wow, we’re going to be exhausted,’” said Mr. Montano, a resident of Oakville, Ont. “It’s busier than I thought it would be but it’s all about the experience. My brother and sister are both Shad alumni. In fact, my sister came to Memorial in 2003, the first year the program was offered here. She wasn’t really looking forward to it but she ended up loving it.”
“Memorial was my first pick so I got really lucky,” said Ms. Sault, a resident of Winnipeg, Man. “I really wanted to travel to Newfoundland and meet 50 of Canada’s top high school students.”
And while the hectic schedule and intense academic sessions that comprise the Shad program doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, these two are grateful for a chance to challenge themselves this summer.
Mr. Montano spent two-weeks backpacking in Costa Rica as part of an Outward Bound expedition. “My pack was about 50 pounds which was more than half my body weight at that time. It was the toughest experience of my life but it’s incredible what we learned about ecology, life in the rain forest, deforestation and cruelty to animals. Since then, I’ve gotten my mom to buy free-range chicken and I conserve water.”
In addition to his outdoor adventures, Mr. Montano has spent more than 200 hours volunteering with a local hospital. He plans to start an outreach group in his school to encourage more young people to volunteer with the hospital. “I want to do an undergraduate degree in microbiology and genetics and hopefully go on to med school and maybe further specialize from there.”
Like Mr. Montano, Ms. Sault is also deeply committed to helping others. “I’d like to believe that if I needed help someone would help me. Helping others is my passion for life.” Two years ago, she started an organization called Overseas Educational Fund (OSEF). Working with the International Association of Transformation and OSEF, Ms. Sault started a daycare in the Philippines. “Our goal was to raise $1,000. That’s all it takes to provide education for 21 students, wages for a teacher, and a daily lunch program for a year. With that money we also paid for the construction of the building.” The school now has 21 students.
“OSEF started with five people and last year we had 50 people involved. We raised about $2,000 so with the extra money we’re looking at establishing a similar project in Africa,” she said. “Even though we are kids we can still affect change through small things.”
Shad encourages young people to stretch their imaginations and their abilities in a fun and challenging environment. “It’s definitely not what I expected,” said Ms. Sault. “Everything is so great here: the people, the place, the learning. There’s so much culture here and the Munnel system is really cool, too. In 10 years, we’ll remember this more than if we had just hung out at home for the summer.”