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Thursday, June 29, 2000

London computer whiz-kid already giving back

By CHRISTINA VARDANIS, Free Press Reporter
  His elementary school principal says Keith Peiris is "just like any other Grade 6 student."

But, no matter what St. Bernadette's Catholic school principal Steve Szabo thinks of Peiris, the differences between the 12-year-old and other pupils his age were obvious at an awards ceremony yesterday at Northdale elementary school.

He was the only one, for starters, with president and chief executive following his name.

While other pupils received the awards, Peiris presented the first annual scholarship for computer excellence from his computer design company, Cyberteks Design.

"Northdale was my very first client, so I wanted to give something back," Peiris said.

The London computer whiz-kid was brought to Northdale principal George Hope's attention last June when he was profiled in a business magazine for his work with Macromedia Flash -- a design tool used for computer animation.

"At that point, we were redesigning the school's Web page and it made sense to me to support a student who had all the qualifications," Hope said.

"I called him and asked if he would take on our Web page. He called me back the next day with a prototype."

Peiris decided to return the favour with a $100 scholarship donation plus a $150 donation to the school's library.

"Currently, the amounts are small, but they may go up if the profits of the company go up," Peiris said.

This year's recipient was Grade 6 pupil Scott Elliot, who designs Web pages in his free time.

"Scott's heads and shoulders above the other students in terms of computer skills and innovation," Hope said.

Peiris said St. Bernadette's will also receive an annual scholarship for its educational support. A cheque for $250 and a plaque will be presented today to Grade 4 student Jonathan Avalos.

Since his first deal, Peiris has attracted large-scale clients, including Interep, the largest radio advertising agency in the United States, and KEWL Threads, a hockey apparel company founded by Shayne Corson of the Montreal Canadiens and Darcy Tucker of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With a busy summer of designing ahead, Peiris said he's looking forward to being able to spend a full nine-hour day on his company -- a luxury not afforded during the school year.

"Now, the weekends are really the only time I can spend a lot of time on it," he said. "Depending on whether or not I have hockey."

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