The community of Canora took part in graduation exercises at the Canora Composite School on June 29 in order to honour the graduating class of 2016.
The 25 members of the graduating class were: Aaron Badger-Bunnie, Elias Barteski, Shaelynn Bazarski, Jolene Boychuk, Brittany Hamilton, Tanner Kopeck, Benjamin Kuang, Patrick Labonte, Bryce McCormick, Tristyn Morozoff, Philomina Mykytyshyn, Mickyala O’Connor, Scott Popoff, Chelsi Reay, Hayden Slowski, Ethan St. Mars, Bailey Steciuk, Kyle Strelioff, Tyler Taylor, Megan Tomilin, Shale Tratch, Dale Weinbender, Matthew Wilgosh, Sadia Zbitniff, and Gonguyan Zhou.
The theme for the graduation was “Here’s to the next great adventure.”
Prior to the graduation exercises was a church service, held at the St. Peter & St. Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church. Rev. Brett Watson, Rev. Marg Janick-Grayston, Rev. Franklin Emereuwa, and Rev. Mavis Watson led the service.
Emereuwa spoke during the meditation to the graduates, telling them that they should try to make things happen, rather than being the people who just see things happen, or worse, the people who do not know what is happening. He assured students that they should never give up, as they can always trust in God.
Prayers and readings were provided by Dale Weinbender, Lisa St. Mars, Mickyala O’Connor, Helen Forbes, Scott Popoff, and Ethan St. Mars. Abby and Jill Gulka provided piano accompaniment, and Derek Barteski, Tyler Kopeck, Brett Popoff and Kelsey Chupa served as greeters.
The graduation exercises were led by Helen Forbes and Ronda O’Dell, while Kim Eiteneier presented the scrolls to graduates. Speeches were also made by the guest speaker, Thomas Lowes, and the valedictorian, Benjamin Kuang.
Twenty-one scholarships were awarded to students who met certain criteria.
The Access Communications Scholarship, presented by Ron Irvine, the regional manager, was presented to Dale Weinbender.
The Beta Sigma Phi Laureate PSI Chapter Scholarship was awarded by Doris Kopelchuk to Megan Tomilin.
The CIBC award was presemted to Brittany Hamilton by Ronda O’Dell.
The Canora AG Society Scholarship, presented by Cindy Sznerch, was won by Dale Weinbender.
The Canora Ambulance Scholarship was awarded by Carla Steciuk to Benjamin Kuang. Kuang also won one of the two Canora Chamber of Commerce awards presented by Steve Merriam, while the other was awarded to Megan Tomilin.
The Canora Composite Class of ’68 Scholarship was donated by the Pensioners Prom of 2015. Linda Skomorowski presented the scholarship to Brittany Hamilton.
The Canora Economic Development Co-op award, presented by Cory O’Dell, went to Brittany Hamilton and Shaelynn Bazarski.
The Canora Hospital Auxillary Scholarship was awarded to Philomina Mykytyshyn by Jaime Wasyliw.
The Canora Lioness Club, represented by Bernice Wilgosh, presented a scholarship to Bailey Steciuk.
The Community Insurance Scholarship went to Scott Popoff, as well as the Crossroads Credit Union Scholarship, which was presented by Sharlene Popoff.
Ronda O’Dell presented the Gateway Co-op Scholarship to Bailey Steciuk. Steciuk also won the Leson’s Funeral Home Scholarship, awarded by Shannon Leson.
The Richardson Pioneer Scholarship was presented by Ronda O’Dell to Shaelynn Bazarski.
The RCMP Scholarship was awarded by Sgt. Greg Smith to Matthew Wilgosh.
The St. Joseph’s Catholic Womens’ League, represented by Melinda Sevilla and Rev. Franklin Emereuwa, presented a scholarship to Elias Barteski.
The Town of Canora Scholarship was awarded by Cory O’Dell to Philomina Mykytyshyn.
The Ukrainian Catholic Womens’ League Scholarship was awarded to Shaelynn Bazarski by Pat Marchinko.
Kim Eiteneier, the principal of the school, told graduates to seize their chances for adventure, as each new experience could be the last. Near the end of the exercises, a slide show featuring students’ baby pictures and graduation pictures was played.
Canora Composite School valedictorian speaks on past journeys and adventures to come
Graduation is a time for much excitement and laughter, but throughout the valedictory address by Benjamin Kuang, he made it clear that Canora Composite School graduates should take this opportunity to reflect on the moments that brought them to the graduation on June 29.
“First of all, I’d like to personally thank the class of 2016 for allowing me to be up here,” Kuang began. “Out of all the people they could have chosen to be valedictorian, they picked the weird one, but it was thanks to them that I’m able to stand up here, and represent them by giving a weird speech.
“I would also like to mention that this is a huge, huge honour… for you guys, to be here, listening to me tonight.”
Kuang’s speech included many friendly jabs and jokes before he decided to try again.
“Greetings fellow graduates, teachers, honored guests, family, friends and strangers. Today we have all come together to celebrate the graduates of 2016. Today I’ll be enlightening you of our years spent together, our futures, how proud we are to finally graduate high school, and the tears that accompany it.”
He reflected about how much fun it has been to be part of the graduating class, and said that although bystanders may think of them as children who have eaten too much sugar, “After having spent countless hours with the graduates in and out of school, I can say they’re all people who would help a friend.”
Kuang went on to explain how the graduates became friends: “Our class has bonded quite interestingly throughout our various adventures together. We learned about each other, fought with each other, became friends with each other, and are finally graduating with each other. We’ve been together and suffered through the start of Justin Beiber, many bad haircuts, acne, puberty, ebola, multiple fire hazards, and Donald Trump.”
He detailed the funny experiences he remembers throughout the years, saying that the adventures have let the graduates bond and leave trails behind them to remind them of times when they were “together… young, careless, and stupid.”
“As we are finally reaching the end of this chapter in our lives, we’re excited to start anew. The graduates here tonight will become your future electricians, welders, mechanics, designers, famers, engineers, carpenters, and drug dealers (I mean, pharmacists).”
Kuang mentioned that some things may change with the departure of graduates and with the retirement of Calvin Tomilin from Canora Composite School, but that many things will stay the same, particularly the fact that “Mr. Lowes’ room will remain as the hangout room for the next batch of Grade 12 [students].”
“Graduation doesn’t only focus on the graduates. We have to also acknowledge the parents,” he continued. “Parents, you’ve had to deal with us longer than you should have. We’ve made you wake up at four in the morning to pick us up. You drove us to preschool, elementary school, to the sports and hobbies we’re interested in. You’ve supported us no matter what, in exchange to see us grow up, and become the adults we are now.”
Kuang also had plenty of others to thank: “I’d also like to thank the families and friends who have gathered today to watch us graduate. The teachers, who have had to spend sleepless nights marking the homework we handed in three months late. The janitors, who clean up after our countless stains and marks. Our neighbours, who watched us grow up. But most importantly, I want to thank the graduates of 2016 for making my high school life a really enjoyable experience that I will never forget.”
Grads told to choose their path in life not out of fear, but out of passion
During the graduation exercises for Canora Composite School graduates on June 29, Thomas Lowes, a teacher at the school, acted as guest speaker and presented a speech for the students.
The speech had students laughing as he provided them with one last test to show what his students have learned. The test questions were all riddles and jokes, as well as one simple question asking for today’s date. As Lowes explained, “My students always wanted a mark for getting the date correct.”
He also shared his top 10 memories of the graduating class before deciding to finish with parting words.
“Many people choose their path in life out of fear possibly disguised as practicality. My hope is that none of you will fall into this category. Make your decisions based on what you love and really want to do, regardless of how impossible or out of reach it may seem.”
Lowes continued with a story about the merits of trying again: “Jay Leno once said, ‘If you can’t get in the front door, go in the back door.’ Leno was not good enough for the Tonight Show at first, so he accepted every second-rate talk show, no matter how terrible, until he was good enough. Find a door and open it. Who knows where it may lead? The adventure begins now.
“It does not really matter what you do. Just do it and do it right!”
Lowes explained that sometimes the challenges and process of achieving success are just as important as the success itself, and though graduates will likely come across hardships, “It does not matter so much how many times you fall down, as long as it is one fewer than the number of times you get up. Even a misstep, if taken in the right direction, often leads to success. The key is to keep moving.
“I definitely took the scenic route on my way to becoming a teacher. I explored many options, but nothing seemed to fit. Once I started following a path that was truly important to me, I found a lot more enjoyment along the way.”
Lowes told graduates to follow their passions and never follow someone else’s path. The key is for them to break their own trails in life.
Lowes finished his speech by encouraging students to get right to their adventure: “So go to it. Follow your heart. Be bold. Be true. Be kind. Work hard. Check your oil and rotate your tires. Be the adventure. Live it!”