Peter Popalis: Canada’s Student of the Week

This week, we’re celebrating Peter Popalis as Canada’s Student of the Week.

Peter is an athlete, mental health advocate, school council president, and senior at Bill Crothers Secondary School.

CampusRankings caught up with Peter to find out what inspires his work, and how he spends his day-to-day.

If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, alive or dead, who would it be?

Steve Jobs. I would definitely love to see his insight of what he thinks of innovation and his approach in not fearing the unknown. I am still breaking my comfort zone of diving into unknown and he could aid this process, inspiring myself to bring innovation to my community.

If we had to describe you in a tweet (140 characters), what would it look like?

A passionate student and mental health advocate who is striving to make a form of positive change everyday, while trying to find the balance between family, academics, managing a school council and sport.

Favourite app?

Google Drive. The best tool to use when doing group assignments, hands down.

What’s been a major challenge that you have overcome?

Definitely winning the presidential campaign at my school.

In spring of 2017, we officially opened our presidential campaign for the next years student council president. With 6 other candidates, the compiling of culminating academic assignments and assessments, all while trying to keep physically intact to represent my school at the 2017 OFSAA Rugby Tournament. I was in somewhat of a panic.

I knew I needed to take it day by day, I would layout my 3 major goals for each day, wether it be to introduce myself to 5 new students, create and edit a new president campaign video, or to make it my job to aid any student who felt or looked upset. However, the late nights and constant public image I retained would eventually take it’s toll when I began to question whether I should even still run in this campaign. It took some thought however, I knew I needed to end what I started, I needed to find something within me.

Something I call, Belief.

I believed I held the resilience to finish this year and leave everything out there.

I ended up winning the election all while holding my highest academic average thus far and getting the chance to represent my school in the sport I love. I can only be thankful for the person I have become today from the lessons I have learned from this.

Favourite mentor at school?

Andrew McCutcheon and Mike DeVries, my rugby coaches at Bill Crothers since grade 9. They have taught me the importance of family and academics as our vehicle to success in life. They have also taught me to evaluate all perspectives and facts before forming opinions. All while being open to everyone, not judging, but taking the time to bring positivity to someone’s day. The BCSS rugby program players and myself have had the honour of having these men as coaches, mentors and best friends, their work must not go un-celebrated!

Favourite subject at school?

Calculus; because regardless of argument, reason or persuasion, there is only one answer. Calculus is a love-hate type relationship, however, nothing is more satisfying than coming to the correct conclusion.

What’s a life lesson most people should know?

Take a positive outlook on everyday. Seeing what we have in front of us today as an opportunity for us tomorrow. Taking advantage of every waking second we have.

How will you be remembered today?

A question I ask myself every morning, before I say anything, do anything or make any decision. It is critical that you take into account of all the values and opinions of the people around you and think how you will impact them with your actions. Regardless of making a change big or small, I hope to be remembered as the trustworthy source to approach when students needed emotional support.

Most important thing in a friendship?

Positivity. Friends hold great influence over you and must support your goals. Having someone there to ensure you that you can do something goes a long way however, someone who disagrees with you and puts you down will take its toll on you.

What’s on your plate right now, community involvement-wise?

I manage and run the student leadership council at Bill Crothers Secondary. I’ve played rugby for 7 years, representing the Markham Irish Rugby Club and my school, the BCRFC Red Army. I also aid in leading the student effort of Mental Wellness at my school.

I was also an ambassador and delegate of the 2017 Queen’s University Leadership Excellence And Development conference. I am an aspiring DECA member.

Why do you do it all?

Because I can. I’ve always been taught to take the opportunities I have in front of me or else someone else will. Taking these opportunities will allow me to live the greatest life I can and in turn, aid my peers in striving to live their lives to the best that they can.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, I would be interested in coming out of business school and using my new tools of knowledge to start some sort of organization that targets post-university grads in seeking a job in their field of specialist. With unemployment rates rising, I can be able to work with schools across Canada to ensure our grads are supported and hold a voice.

What’s a favourite memory you have from your extracurriculars?

Homecoming 2017. Speaking and being an MC at our pep rally of 1500+ screaming and dancing students at Bill Crothers’ was definitely one of the greatest/most terrifying experiences of my life.

What’s a life-saving life hack you love?

Having an agenda. I feel that with most high school students currently, we get very flustered when organizing our timelines mentally. Having it laid out in front of you or as your phone background will definitely relieve the pressure and execution of our goals.

Two things most people don’t know about you?

That I actually am a ski racer-turned-coach, with a CSCF level 1 certificate out of Craigleith Ski Club. I also am part of the alleged 35% of the population who were born without wisdom teeth.

Want to send a shoutout to anybody while you’re here?

BCRFC (my rugby team). Some of the greatest bonds I will ever hold with people outside my family.

P.S. If you’d like to be nominated for Student of the Week, please sign up to CampusRankings and create a profile — our mission is to recognize young people doing great things in their school, community, or otherwise.
Dana Iskoldski

Dana Iskoldski

Dana Iskoldski is the Editor-At-Large at Student Life Network. Also CGP (Chief Guinea Pig) in her search for brilliant career advice.