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Sandra BOLTÉ'73 & John L. Burns with Sandra's children Stephen Amell and Andrea AMELL Rees'03.
June 26, 2017
A Wedding Gift to Remember
Sandra BOLTÉ'73 & John L. Burns honoured with a named bursary and award

Branksome Hall has always felt like family for alum, past parent and current staff member, Sandra BOLTÉ'73. So, it was only natural that her children, Andrea AMELL Rees'03 and Stephen Amell, turned to the school to inspire the perfect wedding gift for their mother and her husband-to-be, John L. Burns (father of Allison BURNS'04.)

"Our mom has spent well over half of her life involved with Branksome Hall in some capacity—and before her, it was a tremendous passion of her parents," says Stephen. "We knew immediately that involving Branksome in our gift was the perfect way to honour and celebrate a monumental moment in her life."

Sandra was left speechless as her children rose at the December wedding reception to announce they were establishing the Sandra BOLTÉ'73 & John L. Burns Endowed Bursary at Branksome as well as renaming the school's Senior Athlete of the Year Award for their mother. Grade 12 student and Sports Prefect, Allie Kent, added to the surprise by entering the reception in uniform to present Sandra and John with a commemorative plaque designed in the style of Branksome's historic honour boards.

"I was in such shock," says Sandra. "All I could think was: 'What is Allie doing here? She should be studying for exams!'"

Both the new bursary and re-named Senior Athlete of the Year award have special meaning for Sandra and her family, given their love of sports and the fact they benefitted from needs-based financial aid in the past.

"I received a bursary while attending Branksome and we want to pass that opportunity along to others," says Andrea. "As for the award, my mom was heavily involved in Athletics at Branksome and so was I. It's so special to know a student will be receiving this award in her name each year."

The newly re-named Sandra BOLTÉ'73 Senior Athlete of the Year Award was presented at Branksome's Green Carpet Celebration on June 15.

"This gift means so much to me and was such a complete surprise," says Sandra. "I get emotional when I realize that, thanks to Andrea and Stephen's contributions, future generations of Branksome girls will be able to attend this wonderful school. Their gift was the highlight of what was already an incredible day in our lives."

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