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Okotoks art school grad has sights set on nuclear research

AHSFA student Teagan Symon has thrived in musical theatre, excelled in English, math and the sciences, and is headed to the University of Alberta for engineering with her sights set on nuclear research. She's also a part-time Disney princess.
NEWS-Grad AHSFA Teagan Symon BWC 1479 web
Alberta High School of Fine Arts student Teagan Symon in the school's theatre on June 2. A student of both science and the arts, Symon thrived in musical theatre, but plans to pursue a career in engineering, specifically nuclear research.

An Okotoks student has defined herself as a jack-of-all-trades.

About to graduate from the Alberta High School of Fine Arts, Teagan Symon has thrived in musical theatre, excelled in English, math and the sciences, and is headed to the University of Alberta for engineering.

“I'm strong in math but I don’t love math, but I like creativity so I feel like it would be good to apply my math skills to something that I might actually enjoy,” said Symon, who is one of only five students graduating in 2022 with both AP Calculus and AP English, as well as AP Math.

“I’m really interested in nuclear engineering, that’s my plan right now. I want to work for SNOLAB in Ontario, because they’re doing cool things.”

The dream job would take Symon deep underground at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) Lab, a cutting-edge subterranean research facility located two kilometres beneath the earth.

With that focus, it should be no surprise physics is one of her favourite subjects, but she added her second option would be marine biology.

Placing an importance on creativity, Symon also takes part in musical theatre, as well as classical singing, performing in the Highwood Lions Music Festival for the second year running. In fall of 2021, she also had a role in the AHSFA’s performance of Legally Blonde.

"That was awesome,” said Symon, who played Vivian Kensington in the musical. “I really love theatre, it’s just a great community and I really enjoy performing and I really enjoy working towards something that is a collective.

“I plan to do arts in the future, like community theatre, but it’s just a passion.”

Excelling academically, not just in the sciences, Symon said her AP English teacher Matt Hanson had a profound impact on her studies.

“Mr. Hanson has been a huge role model for me since coming to the Composite,” she said. “He has made an incredible impact on my writing and ability to communicate my thoughts effectively.”

The respect is certainly mutual, with Hanson in awe of Symon’s ability and willingness to communicate.

“She’s a remarkable student,” Hanson said. “Even at the AP level, some students are reluctant to share their thoughts.

“Teagan came in incredibly confident in her abilities and her understanding of complex literature, and then she’s able to share and justify with everyone.

“There are so many people who prefer to take a back seat, especially with something as nebulous as English where it’s talking about your ideas and thoughts that aren’t concrete, she’s able to take that and have the confidence to stand behind her idea and her interpretation of a situation.”

The teacher is confident his student’s ability to communicate will serve her well in the STEM fields.

Referencing their study of the novel Frankenstein, he said Symon was uniquely able to see the scientific aspects through the literature.

“It’s something she could really grapple with,” Hanson said. “I think there is real importance in literature and how we see our world.”

Adding to her multidisciplinary juggling act, Symon is also a part-time Disney princess, operating her own business, Tiny Tiaras Princess Parties, dressing up as Elsa from Pixar’s Frozen for birthday parties.

If that was not enough on her plate, she also finds time to give back to the community by volunteering at the High River Hospital.

While not directly involved in Symon’s other activities, the English teacher sees her prowess across the board.

“I know how well she does at all those, she carries herself with confidence,” Hanson said.

“It’s very special as a teacher to take part in that love of learning and the depth at which she can approach any sort of problem and learning in front of her.

“She has a level of competence that goes beyond her age.”


Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and OkotoksToday.ca
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