Victor’s story is not just about school success, but also community

South East Cornerstone School Division

October 23, 2023, 1:50 pm
Norm Park

Victor Santos Cardoza (left) and his former vice-principal Scott Sully (right) were invited to address the SECPSD board members on October 11.

It’s a story book situation that doesn’t have an ending yet and it will be some time before it does, and that will please the Santos Cardoza family as well as McNaughton High Schoolers, graduates and the Town of Moosomin.

Victor Santos Cardoza and his former vice-principal Scott Sully were invited to address the South East Cornerstone Public School Division’s (SECPSD) board members on October 11 during their open business session. The purpose of the visit was to illustrate how the division’s System Goal 2 is reaping measures of success in real time and real life that includes school and community involvement.

System Goal 2 for SECPSD calls for “Our students to achieve at high levels.”

As one of the student presenters, Victor, a recent graduate, informed the board that he not only managed to succeed in the school, but did so with the backing of a community that reached out to his entire family.

Originally from Honduras, Victor and his parents arrived in Canada in 2011 when he was 11-years-old. They arrived in Moosomin in 2014 where Victor first entered elementary school and later McNaughton High where he graduated in 2022.

Now pursuing a journeyperson’s status as a carpenter in that town, he and Sully related various aspects of that journey for the board.

Sully noted how the roles played by the school and the community showed strengths at various levels.

“It’s what McNaughton does. We can work with individualized projects and provide special credits and what we can’t offer sometimes, is only due to scheduling conflicts,” Sully explained.

Whether it be aviation or computers and robotics sometimes two-hour class times are arranged so that students can “build things” without time line interruptions. Offers like that also extend to fine arts pursuits as well, Sully said.

As a former Saskatchewan Junior Citizen of the Year, Victor also pioneered as the town council’s first junior member, serving as a voice for Moosomin’s young citizens.

Canadian citizenship followed and Victor is currently absorbed in flying lessons thanks in large part to a local air cadet program that he was also involved in to the hilt.

Participation in air cadets, drama and sports, “taught me about dedication and team work,” Victor said.

Sully described Victor’s presence at McNaughton as providing a “wonderful role model in our school.”

“What you put into it, you get out of it,” Victor added. “I am honoured to be recognized for extra curricular involvement.”

His work with the town council was a positive experience he said, and the two-year term has now led to a new role for McNaughton students. “Others will have an opportunity to elect their peers to council,” Victor explained.

Many of Victor’s pursuits and successful contributions to the community have been recorded by the community’s newspaper, the World-Spectator, as the journey took on new routes and levels.

The Sask Youth Apprenticeship contract was started with Victor’s first hand involvement and it provided him with a foundation and comfort level in carpentry.

“I took pride in the work I did,” he said.

He credits the MacLeod Elementary School and most certainly McNaughton staff and administrators for making his incredible journey possible.

What added extra flavour to the entire story however, is one of a community wrapping itself around a family that had wrapped themselves within it as immigrants seeking sustainability and a sense of belonging.

“In 2017 our refugee claim was rejected and we were slated for deportation. The community rallied around my family (Father Victor Sr., mother Lesi and younger brother Edward), and an extremely rare ministerial order was issued staying the deportation order. We became permanent residents in 2018,” Victor said, projecting a photo of his family on the conference room screen that showed the family at their Canadian citizenship ceremony held in February of this year.

Former educator and now a member of the Cornerstone board of trustees, Devona Putland also played a significant role in the fight to keep the Santos Cardoza family in Moosomin and her efforts were also brought to light in the World-Spectator this past spring.

“This year was one of blessing and a new chapter in our book,” Victor said during acceptance of his Junior Citizen of the Year award.

To the board, he added, “there is no substitute for hard work and just know with a little perseverance and a positive attitude, all things will come to fruition. My story is just one example of success and achievement for every student in every school. I thank you for having me to the South East Cornerstone board meeting to share it with you,” Victor said, adding “Who I am today is proof I have come full circle because I was provided with a foundation both in the academic world and as an adult.”

Director of Education Keith Keating said the presentations from staff and students that day were heart warming and proof that through these SECPSD projects and personnel they are developing something even larger.