A student at St. Joseph Catholic school in Corunna is the first recipient of the Victoria Baertsoen Noble Service Award, in honour of the young Wallaceburg woman who died in a car accident last month.
Baya Vandenheuvel, 14, accepted the award at the school’s Grade 8 graduation ceremonies this week, alongside Victoria’s parents — both educators — Chris and Kerry Baertsoen.
“It has been a tradition at St. Joseph Catholic School that the Grade 8 Graduating Class do something special as a group for their elementary school,” said principal Mark Bernard. “This year the students wanted to create an award in memory of Miss Victoria Baertsoen who passed away in a horrible automobile accident on May 21, 2023.”
The award acknowledges Vandenheuvel’s “empathy, compassion and humility,” and was presented by Chris Baertsoen, a retired specialist physical education and health teacher from St. Joseph’s school, and his wife Kerry Baertsoen, also a retired elementary teacher.
“Chris would have taught the graduates for most of their elementary educational experience if not all and he was a beloved teacher of all of our students who have very fond memories of being taught by Mr. Baertsoen,” said Bernard. “The students also met Victoria and Kerry when they worked at our school as Casual Occasional Teachers this school year.”
Victoria recognized when others were in need of her ear, voice, and hand, according to the award description. Out of the goodness of her heart, she generously showed care and concern by being a supportive listener, giving wise words of advice and comfort, offering a helping hand to anyone who was in need of assistance, and making anyone and everyone feel welcome.
She never sought recognition or rewards in return.
“Victoria was an organized, conscientious, and goal-oriented student and teacher, and an incredibly talented and beautiful dancer.
“She was also a fun-loving, and dependable friend.”