Earning 100 per cent on a grade 12 diploma exam is rare, but to have it occur two generations in a row is remarkable.

Bow Valley grade 12 student Taya Vlietstra had a perfect score on her Math 30 exam, written at the end of the first semester. She's following in the footsteps of her dad Scott.

Her two older brothers weren't so fortunate.

"When they went through high school and they did their math diplomas, they didn't get 100 per cent. So my dad kind of said, you know, maybe you could get 100 per cent and we could be a double 100 per cent family. And sure enough, I did.

Does she rub it in with her brothers?

"Yeah, I take it to them all the time, every day. I love to remind them."

Taya said she was in disbelief when she opened the envelope.

"At first, I thought there was a mistake, and I was like, no way. But when I looked at the total, it was true. Looking back, I did prepare for it for the entire first semester. I was really academically focused and because of that, I should have trusted my abilities and trusted that I could get 100 per cent on it. So yeah, I'm very proud of it."

Taya strives to score 100 per cent on all her tests and is particularly confident with memorization-based studies, like biology.

"I was surprised that I got 100 per cent in math because it's more problem-based and processes and so that just made it even more of a proud accomplishment in my mind. I definitely wanted to get 100 per cent on one diploma, I just didn't know it was going to be math."

Math teacher Stephanie Litschke speaks highly of Taya.

"Taya is hard-working, diligent, always got her practice questions done, and advocated for herself when she had questions. She is also involved in the community volunteering, and heavily involved in sports. Despite her busy schedule it never interfered with her academics. I am very proud of her and what she has accomplished."

Taya says some students say Mrs. Litschke is too hard on them, but she disagrees.

"She pushes us to be as good as we can be. She does not lay off us. I appreciate her strictness because I think it helped me become a better math student."

BVHS principal Shane Dempster calls Taya an amazing young woman.

"Not only did she accomplish something special on her DIP but represents our school in sports and is a candidate for this year’s valedictorian"

As it turns out, Taya was named the valedictorian yesterday (May 15) for Bow Valley's Class of 2024. It was an emotional moment that Taya got to share with her parents Scott and Lorraine, who were invited to the school.

"I was not expecting it because there are so many well-deserving nominees at Bow Valley. It is incredible the amount of skillset and kindness that everyone shows. I respect every single person that applied for valedictorian thoroughly. It honors me even more that they chose me among such a stacked cast of candidates."

On top of academics and being on the BVHS grad committee, Taya is sport-oriented. She played for Bow Valley's varsity girls basketball team and is a member of their track team. Outside of school, she played defence for the U18 Chaos, softball with the Cochrane Rebels, and spring basketball with the Cochrane Eagles.

On Monday, she won the gold medal in javelin and was second in 80m hurdles in the RVS divisional track and field championships. She's hoping to perform well at next week's south central zone championship so she can return to the ASAA provincials and improve on her seventh-place finish of last year.

Oh, and she has a part-time job at MacKay's Ice Cream. 

"So, whenever I'm not doing sport or studying, I'm working and scooping ice cream for customers."

Taya has one more set of diploma exams to write this semester and a chance for another perfect score.

"Fingers crossed. I want to strive for perfection, but if I don't get it, I won't be disappointed."

Upon graduation, she will be studying biological science at UAlberta. She intends to apply for the radiation therapy program after her first year.

"I really am fascinated with the treatments and the research of cancer. Everyone knows cancer is always going to be here and we've all had family members affected by cancer.  For a job in the future, I want something that's meaningful and something that is impactful for the world. I just think that cancer research is the perfect thing to do, so that's my goal."

She says it may not pan out, and plans may change, but you can't help but feel this determined young woman will find a way to make it happen.