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St. John’s students to attend WE Day in Halifax

Students with the Social Justice Group at Waterford Valley High School in St. John’s were surprised on Wednesday when they learned 14 of them and two faculty members would get to attend WE Day in Halifax on Nov. 29-30.
Students with the Social Justice Group at Waterford Valley High School in St. John’s were surprised on Wednesday when they learned 14 of them and two faculty members would get to attend WE Day in Halifax on Nov. 29-30. - Sam McNeish

WestJet providing Social Justice Group at Waterford Valley High with airfare and hotel to attend event Nov. 29-30

A group of students at Waterford Valley High School had no idea why the strangers in the room were there.

As they gathered for their lunch-hour Social Justice Group meeting and short video, it appeared to be just another meeting … until it wasn’t.

When the faculty adviser for the group, Karen Anthony, revealed to the group that they had been selected for a special honour, it was as if it was Christmas morning.

A group of 14 students and two faculty members will have the opportunity of a lifetime to attend WE Day in Halifax Nov. 29-30 thanks to WestJet and the WE organization.

“You can’t buy tickets to WE Day, you have to earn them,” Anthony told the students.

“This is a huge deal. Because we are registered as a WE school, and the things we have done in support of others, we were selected to fly to Halifax for WE Day,” she added.

WestJet is covering both airfare and hotel for the students and faculty advisers, as for the fourth consecutive year, WestJet and WE are working together to give deserving students like those at Waterford Valley High School the chance to join tens of thousands of like-minded youth to experience a WE Day event for the first time.

“Congratulations, this is a really big deal. My mom is a teacher in Manitoba and we have been to a few WE Days, so I know how nice this is,” Tammy Sharpe, GSM for WestJet in St. John’s said while making the presentation.

Former Waterford Valley student Sydney Van de Wiel, currently a second-year student at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S, formed the Social Justice Group several years ago.

Waterford Valley’s Social Justice Group includes 20 dedicated students who are currently organizing a coffee house in honour of the RCMP’s fallen members.
The Social Justice Group also participates in WE scare hunger every year and collects stockings in support of the Thrive Community Network during the holiday season.

By providing flights and accommodation, WestJet will remove the barriers to attending WE Day for nearly 100 outstanding Canadian youth committed to making change in their communities.

“Be proud of yourselves. Those goose bumps you have throughout your bodies are because this is a really big deal,” said Descha Sooley, operations lead for WestJet in St. John’s.

One of those youth making a difference is Grade 11 student Madelyn Leonard. This will be her first time attending WE Day.

“I am really excited about this. It is an amazing opportunity,” Madelyn said.

“To get to hear people’s stories of how they are making a difference in the world and bring those stories back to our group, the Social Justice Group, is special.”

WE Day is a powerful, life-changing experience with world-renowned speakers and performers, mixed with real inspirational stories of change.

Katherine Dibbon, also a Grade 11 student, knows all about this, as she attended WE Day in Toronto two years ago.

“Just the energy in the crowd, everyone being so excited. The energy is what makes WE Day. It was an amazing experience,” Katherine said.
“The people are all talking about what they are doing. And everyone gets to celebrate the achievements of others and help collaborate with others in Atlantic Canada and across Canada, really, on a number of initiatives, and bring those ideas back here.”

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