Those fortunate enough to have enjoyed last December’s production of West Side Story on stage at BCSS were fortunate to catch Julia Baxmann’s performance in the role of Maria.
One of the central roles in the play, the part has a lot of lines. All well delivered. But there was a time—back when Julia was a child of six—that her performance would have appeared highly unlikely.
Julia explained that she didn’t speak any English at all when her family immigrated to Alberta from Germany and she found herself in public school with a huge learning curve ahead of her. So she kept quiet and listened and learned. So quiet in fact that she didn’t say anything at all for a long time.
“They all thought I couldn’t talk,” recalls Julia. “When I did, everyone was very shocked. I wanted it to be perfect when I spoke.”
Later, in Grade 10, the little girl who wouldn’t speak until she could speak correctly went on to win the Junior English Award in Grade 10 when she scored 100 per cent on the English provincial exam.
The family moved to Christian Valley in 2010. They’ve built their own home and live completely off the grid.
With 80 ewes on the ranch Julia says there is a two to four week stretch each year when you have to get up early and stay up late to make sure the lambing is going okay.
Julia attended large schools in Alberta and notes that studying at a smaller school like BCSS seems more like being part of a large family. “You can be more personal with the teachers than you can in a large school. at helps with your grades.” “One quality I’ve developed since grade ten is leadership,” says Julia. I came to BCSS from a large, formal school, which made it difficult to take action in any way. At BCSS the faculty is very supportive of students stepping up and taking on the role of a leader in an idea they’d like to pursue.”
On piano, she completed conservatory Canada Grades 1-5 and honours standing in 2009. Julia is a year younger than her classmates because she skipped Grade 7.
is fall she plans to be at UBC studying for a Bachelor of Arts followed by a Bachelor of Education—then to become an elementary school teacher.
“It is really important that early on students have good interactions with their teachers,” she insists. “If you have a really good elementary teacher it can make a huge difference. I had a really good one in kindergarten.”
She is looking for a local summer job. “I worked a lot at the ranch – having a large family (eight people) means you help out when you can.” Her immediate goal though is to get straight A’s in Grade 12.
A lot can be said in a good quotation, and students are invited to choose an inspirational quote to record in their exit interview file. Julia chose: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” – Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.