Recognizing Resilience: New Award Established

A new award will be handed out this June at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS).

The inaugural Norkus Family Resilience Award will recognize two Grade 11 students, who have faced a difficult situation --- whether a medical, family or personal crisis --- and who have exhibited resilience to overcome it, while maintaining their academics. Each winning student will receive $1,000 at the end of their Grade 11 academic year.

“My own son has fought for almost four years through depression and anxiety to maintain what he has always had a gift for and that is an exceptional learning ability,” says Joseph Norkus, describing the impetus for the award established by his family.


“We as a society still don't understand why, especially in recent history, so many of our children have been devastated by social, physical, mental or family difficulties,” he says. “One thing that has become very clear to us as a family is that receiving acknowledgement of these difficulties and being able to discuss them with others is paramount to getting through the difficult times, overcoming those obstacles and bringing fulfillment to our lives. It is achievable and our son is a testament to that. ” 

Norkus graduated from SMCS in 1972. His son is currently a grade 12 student. 

“Our hope is that just the mention of the award tells all those suffering that we hear them and encourage them to share what they feel so that we can help them through those difficult times,” he says.

Norkus adds, “I have chosen this age so that students who have shown perseverance over a number of years would be recognized and offered as examples of success over challenges. I would also hope that with one academic year remaining at St. Michael's they would foster a leadership role in helping others.”


Kimberly Bailey, Director of Advancement at SMCS, says the school’s Director of Student Affairs will ultimately determine which students will receive the award, through the receipt of submissions from faculty.

“It was easy to see the importance and Mr. Norkus’ passion for creating the resilience award,” says Bailey. “It’s an award that has not been suggested nor asked about in the past.  It’s certainly one of the unique awards given out at the school and in today’s society, an important one,” she says.

Adds Norkus, “we just want every child to know that most --- if not all of us --- understand that life can be difficult at times and that people care and are ready to help if they let us.”