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Meet Samantha and Ashton, high school students

21 Dec 2020
Embrace The Present 24 Stories to Tell Embrace The Present 24 Stories to Tell

Three qualities stand out when speaking to Ashton and Samantha Gillett: resilience, sensibility, and wisdom. These are invaluable character traits that everyone should develop. In fact, even older adults struggle to embody them.

However, they seemed to already be deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of these two Montreal teenagers. It was a joy meeting these two siblings with incredibly inspiring views and thoughts, and for whom 2020 was a unique milestone.

Samantha is a high school student in grade 9. She’s fond of her physical education classes and regularly played volleyball at school, an activity that’s on hold for the time being. Fortunately, she can take her passion for sports outdoors.

She spends summer on a bike and winter on the slopes.She and her brother have been downhill skiing since they were young and even did it competitively. In her spare time—something she has had a lot more of lately—Samantha loves to cook and she’s also an avid movie fan, with a clear preference for comedies.

Whether it’s due to her willingness to stay positive despite the circumstances, her empathy for those who have lost their jobs in recent months, or her sincere admiration for her two grandfathers, both doctors, this young woman radiates warmth and a quiet strength.

“I’ve often felt this year that things were changing very quickly and were out of our control. It was off-putting at times, but even when life gets hard, I try to stay in a good mood. I think I’m pretty good-natured,” she says with a smile.

Ashton is also in high school, but in grade 11. A true jack-of-all trades, he’s been a member of the Petit Chanteurs du Mont-Royal choir since he was eight years old. He also loves downhill skiing and was captain of his football team last spring.

Since he’s had more time for himself in 2020, he started lifting weights and running, and also found a renewed passion in reading. “I chose to see this as an opportunity to better myself, to become a better athlete, student, and person. Of course, it wasn’t the kind of year I would’ve liked, but I wanted to try to do something good with it.”

For the 16-year-old student, versatility is an important asset. He enjoys learning, performing well, and developing skills related to his many interests, including drawing and video games. He’s also inspired by Tyler, The Creator, a multi-talented hip-hop artist who he believes embodies versatility and whose musical creativity he really admires.

An open mind and attentiveness are values that Ashton holds dear. “I like to question the world around me, expand my horizons, and put myself in the shoes of those who don’t think exactly like me. We can always learn something from others, even more so if they’re different from us.”

Samantha and Ashton’s holiday season is usually highlighted by two distinct activities, the quest for the perfect Christmas tree in the forest and travelling to the United States to visit their father’s family. Ashton also used to sing at Christmas Mass at St. Joseph’s Oratory, a tradition he particularly enjoyed.

Of course, the Gillett’s holiday schedule will be greatly pared down this year, but the brother and sister seem to have made peace with the idea. What matters is simply being with their immediate family. The magic of the holidays will take care of the rest. 

We talked to Ashton and Samantha for only an hour, but even after they left our photo studio, their wise words and inspiring personalities stayed with us. It was like an invigorating breath of fresh air that proved the future will only be brighter with young people like them to carry it forward.