Student Helps Make St. Joseph a Safe School for Everyone

Focus on Youth

By Phill Potter

Name: Princess Afram                                   

Age: 18

Address: Barrhaven

School: St Joseph High

Grade: 12

Parents: Prince Afram (father), Taku Afram (stepmother), Lovely Javier (mother)

Brothers: Ezra (2) and Noah (6 months)

Sister: Arielle (12), Centennial Elementary School.

Pet Peeve: “I hate when people don’t know how to apologize, or own up to their actions. Saying, ‘I’m sorry, but . . .’ isn’t a real apology.”

Part-time Work: “Personal shopper at Loblaws. I also work as a sales associate at Mastermind Toys. I’m so lucky to have two jobs that I really like.”

Favourite Subjects: “English has always had a special place in my heart, because I used to be an aspiring writer in middle school. However I’ve recently developed a love for all the social sciences. Because of this amazing teacher (Mrs Chiasson), I have filled my timetable with them (anthropology, psychology, sociology, human development and family studies).

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure? “I was a huge book worm growing up, except more towards the fiction area. At this point in my life, I had dreamed to write my own adventure books – like the ones I would dive in. Now I prefer reading more articles and news reports. I like to understand what’s going on in the world, and what events have been trending. I’ve taken a personal interest in true crime, so to me some news articles are like very interesting short stories.”

Who are your favourite authors?

“One of my two favourite authors is Hajime Isayama, who is also a Japanese manga artist. I had read his series Attack on Titan that he both wrote and drew, and I had been following it since the 6th grade, up until it’s recent finale last month.

“I really appreciate how amazingly written all the characters are, and the layers the story has from war, to politics, to systematic oppression. I like being on the edge of my seat while reading, and the thrill of being genuinely scared onto what could happen next. Sometimes I feel like I’m part of the books, from the way I emotionally attach myself to the characters, and genuinely feel impacted from the events in the plot.

“My other favourite author is Dr Seuss. My favourite book of all time is Oh, The Places You’ll Go. This book has stuck with me my entire life. It used to be the bedtime story my dad would read to me. The book talks about how you are on your way to something new, although unfortunately there will be some tribulations along the way. ‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.’ (Dr Seuss). I’ve always applied this book to everything new that’s happened in my life, and it always motivates me to keep going. Thanks Dad.”

What is your greatest accomplishment?

“My greatest accomplishment is to have been part of the creation of my school’s first ever Black History Month show. I was only in grade 10, and had been friends with Dannie Akat, who was in grade 12 at the time. Dannie was very passionate about celebrating Black culture, and bringing awareness to issues that happen in the Black community.

“She created a vision for a Black History Month at St Joe’s. Every day we would do something to celebrate diversity through messages over the announcements, playing music by Black artists during the mornings, bringing in Black guest speakers to talk about empowerment, Black history month themed spirit weeks, and lastly, a huge buyout at the end of the month to celebrate Blackness overtime.

“It was so amazing to have played such a huge role in this. I got to organize so many events, and even got to mc the show twice in front of the whole school. It was incredible to see 90% of the school come out to the show, using their own money to watch us preform.

“We had so many amazing dances, singers, actors, speakers, games, and even a fashion show. After Dannie graduated, I had decided to carry on her vision the following year with my great friends Sarah Tomta and Shukria Yassin.

“These next few shows and buyouts inspired us to create our very own St Joe’s Black Student Association (SJHBSA) where we get students of all grades and ethnicities to come together and figure out how to make St Joe’s a safe and comfortable place for everyone.”

School Activities: “As I love running, I had been on my school’s Track Team, along with being a loyal member to the SJHBSA (St Joseph High School Black Student Association). I’m also a nominee for this year’s valedictorian!”

Other Activities/Interests: “I like to paint, draw, write, and study film. During downtime, I like to watch anime with my little sister. Aside from these, I’m very interested in social activism and bringing awareness to issues. I hope to one day have my future children live in a world where they don’t feel scared or threatened over who they are.”

Career Goals: “I’m going to Carleton University for Child and Youth Studies as I am working towards becoming an elementary school teacher. I love working with kids. I want to be someone who inspires youth. I hope to be able to travel internationally for a few years, and teach children from different countries before settling down in Ottawa. On the side, I hope to fulfil my dream of writing children’s books.”

Comments: “School has been odd for everyone during the pandemic. Most clubs have been cancelled. Unfortunately, I missed out on all the typical grad events my school organizes. Despite all this, teachers have been trying their best to make the year as enjoyable as possible. I’m very thankful for that. I’ve personally struggled a lot with online school, and maintaining a balance between my mental health, and my school life. Nonetheless, I’ve worked very hard this year and it’s paying off. I’m excelling in my school work, and in both my jobs. Everything is all about finding balance and knowing when to take a step back. Your mental health should always come first, as your relationship with yourself is the longest relationship you will ever have.”