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Oak Bay High student shoots for the stars, scores prestigious Schulich scholarship

Future students benefit from Evan Warburton’s fixation on night skies
Evan Warburton in the chem lab at Oak Bay High, where the Grade 12 student spent a significant amount of time this school year. Warburton earned a Schulich Leader Scholarship to study physics at the University of Victoria in the fall. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

To ward off the lure of video games and sedentary life, Evan Warburton biked Oak Bay streets after dark and found himself looking up.

The stars drew his attention.

With a love of learning and seeking to move forward rather than sit back during pandemic school interruptions, he pursued those night skies.

“When I find a topic I like to get fixated and try to learn anything I can,” Warburton said.

Alongside sciences in general, the Grade 12 Oak Bay High student enjoys drawing, painting, poetry and playing guitar. A French immersion student who will earn a double dogwood this June, Warburton is also a Schulich Leader Scholar.

READ ALSO: Schulich scholars choose UVic for first-year studies

The scholarship program spans 25 universities across Canada and Israel supporting students pursuing STEM education. This year 100 scholarships are being awarded – 50 engineering scholarships valued at $120,000 each and 50 science, technology or math scholarships valued at $100,000 each.

“Evan’s curiosity for learning is infectious and the support he brings to his peers is what sets him apart and what makes him a Schulich Leader. I cannot wait to hear about his future learning journey in university … and what amazing discoveries he will contribute to,” said teacher Scott Alexander, whose duties include scholarship prep at Oak Bay High.

“Evan is motivated by helping others access their curiosity and wonder of the night skies through his involvement with the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and establishing Oak Bay’s first-ever Astronomy Club. We even have a high-power telescope, thanks to Evan’s efforts.”

For his capstone project, Warburton built a radio telescope and took it to the April science fair. There he placed and headed to Alberta for the national science fair in mid-May.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay High students earn life-changing post-secondary funding

“I really treated it as a passion project,” he said.

That was easy, astronomy is a passion and much of his life revolves around it. He started a club at school, where up to a dozen students meet weekly for talks and explorations he organizes. The most recent chat revolved around Saturn’s moon Titan.

They’ve held star parties at Cattle Point and convinced the school parent advisory council to purchase a school telescope.

He’s also a volunteer and member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Victoria and volunteers at the Bob Wright Centre Observatory at the University of Victoria, his school of choice next year.

The next couple weeks are busy, with the national science fair, grad events and a Camosun physics class to wrap up among his other endeavours.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay High teacher receives Prime Minister’s Award

It’s been a year crammed full, Warburton admitted. He did the choir trip, biology trip to Bamfield and just recently returned from a trip with the outdoors club. He hoped to take a little downtime in June but he is on the board of the Victoria Swiss Society and has plans for a big hike at Witty’s Lagoon with that group.

Come fall, he embarks on a physics degree at UVic.

Evan Warburton volunteers giving tours of the Plaskett Telescope at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich. (Courtesy Evan Warburton)

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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