Grade 12 Student Recognized for Outstanding Service
With the passion and commitment to service instilled in him at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS), one Grade 12 student was recently recognized for his outstanding contribution as a volunteer for Tennis Canada at the National Bank Open in Toronto.
This past summer, at just 17 years old, Joshua Carroll-Leong was named Volunteer of the Year by Tennis Canada, becoming the youngest recipient in the organization’s history to receive the honour.
“Being presented the volunteer of the year award out of 1,200 volunteers was very special,” says Carroll-Leong. “I can confidently say I did not see it coming, but it was nice to see that all my work and hours were recognized. I know that I did not take this role looking for recognition, but it was a great honour for me, and definitely a humbling experience.”
Raphael Leong, Joshua’s father, noted the qualities that made his son a perfect fit for the award, “Joshua is not only dedicated to his team, but he steps up to find solutions for them. The tournament had many challenges over the 10 days, but Joshua learned from those around him how to build team morale by always stepping up to support and help any team volunteer on-site and member of the public to make the tournament experience memorable.”
An outstanding service award and an important leadership role
Carroll-Leong started volunteering with Tennis Canada and the National Bank Open in 2019. In addition to receiving the volunteer award this year, he was also selected to be a captain.
“I think we were both taken aback and honoured to learn he had been chosen this year to fill this role. We never would have thought Tennis Canada would select such a young person to help lead such an important committee that would be front and centre in front of cameras and the public,” says his dad.
“My committee was in charge of overseeing all on-court player requests and ensuring that everything was ready for play. This included bringing the match bags to courts which consisted of towels and balls while also ensuring all drink coolers and air-conditioning units were stocked,” says Carroll-Leong.
“Going into this year’s tournament, I was undeniably nervous knowing I would be out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot along the way, and I was very fortunate to work under someone I am proud to call a mentor, teacher, and role model.”
He adds, “Throughout the tournament, I learned to better delegate and trust my team members rather than always trying to do things on my own.”
According to Carroll-Leong, his family collectively has over 100 combined years of volunteer service at this tournament.
“My family has a deep and rich history with the tournament, dating back to when my father was a ball kid/captain and committee head as a teenager,” he says. “My grandmother continues to volunteer, reaching 40 consecutive years of service this year, and my grandpa has surpassed over 15.”
A true pillar of service at SMCS
Service at SMCS is ingrained in the student experience from the moment they step foot in the yellow brick halls to their first walk through the Students’ Arch at their graduation.
“SMCS has taught our son the value and importance of how privilege/opportunities also carry great responsibility. The Basilian motto of educating the whole person through goodness, discipline, and knowledge has really had an impact on our son’s day-to-day outlook and how he carries himself in the community,” says Josh’s dad, Raphael. “My son has relished all of the school leadership opportunities afforded to him, beginning in Grade 9 as a Student Ambassador, to becoming a Grade Rep for the past two years, and now Head of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) group.”
His dad adds, “Josh has also learned the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship through his participation in various varsity sports, including swimming, alpine skiing, and tennis. Lastly, having the opportunity to be part of Tower Media as a daily announcer has opened his eyes to public speaking and the importance of non-verbal communication. Everything he has done through SMCS has led him to this moment, so we cannot thank the school enough, particularly the teachers, administration, and coaches, for their dedication and time.”
For Carroll-Leong, he is grateful to SMCS for solidifying his desire to get more involved in his community and is proud that he can take what he learns through these experiences back to his school to make it a better place.
“I am not surprised to hear of Joshua receiving such great recognition from Tennis Canada on being the volunteer of the year, as he has been outstanding with his work as an ambassador for our school with Admissions events with prospective families and students,” says Chris De Piero ’87, Associate Director of Admissions and faculty moderator of the Student Ambassador programme. “He embodies everything that St. Michael’s College School stands for. His willingness to be an example of what servant leadership and volunteerism are all about is a great example for our community. We are grateful for Josh’s involvement and certainly congratulate him on his award.”
A passion for serving the community
At SMCS, students must accumulate above and beyond the required 40 hours of community service. Students are expected to complete 20 of those hours before May of their Grade 10 year and must complete an additional 20 hours of Christian service in Grades 11 and 12 as well as participate in a Service Day.
“Outside of school, I volunteer when the opportunity presents itself, whether through local organizations or simply helping a neighbour shovel the snow or move something heavy,” says Carroll-Leong. “I think that giving back is one of the most important things I can do. I know how fortunate and privileged I am, and it is my mission to give back whenever I can.”
“Volunteering and getting involved can open your eyes to perspectives you may never have seen,” he says. “There is so much we can learn through volunteering and giving back to your community.”