Even though the day was cloudy with a threat of rain and their Grade 12 year had been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there were smiles all around as the Canora Composite School Graduating Class of 2020 celebrated with a parade and outdoor ceremony on June 29. Organized by the Town of Canora and Brandi Zavislak, community development officer, the day began with the parade led by vehicles from the RCMP, EMS and the Canora and District Fire Department. The 18 graduates were driven through downtown Canora on open trailers, giving residents the opportunity to see them in the finest formal attire and celebrate with them.
After the parade, the graduation ceremony was held at King George Park. As a way of keeping with social distancing guidelines, the family of each graduate was seated in its own section, or pod.
Terry Dennis, Canora-Pelly MLA, was the emcee for the ceremony, and congratulated the graduates on their big day.
The grads were introduced individually by Kim Eiteneier, CCS vice-principal, who also helped those in attendance get to know them a bit better.
“Carson Barteski plans to work next year and hopes to eventually become a musician. Carson is best known for being the quietest one but having the best comebacks.
“Next year Megan Barteski plans to attend the University of Saskatchewan taking first year Arts and Science, incorporating sociology and criminology into her schooling. She would like to land a job into the criminal justice area of work. Megan is best known for tripping and falling.
“Jessie Biletski plans to attend SaskPolytech in Saskatoon for Mechanical Engineering Technology to achieve his two-year diploma and then work towards a degree. Jessie is best known for being very unpredictable, keeping all the teachers on their toes and hiding Mrs. Sznerch’s coffee. His favourite high school memory is sitting in Mr. Lowes’ room and blasting tunes loud enough to make the ceiling tiles shake.
“Decan Cybak plans to make money working next year and in the next few years go to university for video effect, editing and programming, eventually becoming a Federal Corrections Officer. Decan is best known for being the class clown.
“William Hauber plans to attend the U of S to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree focussing on anatomy and cell biology to work towards a graduate program. His favourite high school memories include dissecting and/or destroying the fetal pigs in science class.
“Durban Hleboff plans to go to university. He is best known for being late to class and his favourite high school memory is Grade 11 English class.
“Avigail Korolski plans to take next year off and then go into culinary school the following fall.
Avigail is best known for speaking a second language. Her favourite high school memory is receiving her first honour roll award in Grade 9.
“Jordelle Lewchuk plans to attend the University of Regina in the faculty of Education to become a mini Mr. Lowes. Jordelle is best known for her crazy red curly hair. Her favourite high school memory is travelling to Spain and Italy.
“Ebonie Martin plans to take a year off and eventually wants to become a veterinarian.
“Paige Motilaga has been accepted to the U of R but will be taking her classes at Parkland College in Yorkton next year to become a social worker to help children. Paige is best known for her red mustang ‘Miss Cherry Bomb’ and being in Jackie Guy's music video Right Now.
“Emma Mykytyshyn plans on attending Yorkton Parkland College as a U of S student working towards a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and then become an emergency room doctor. Emma is best known for having snacks all the time and napping lots.
“Austin Shewchuk plans on finding employment for a year then returning to school. Austin’s favourite high school memories are the lunch hours spent in Mr. Lowes’ classroom as well as the presentation in Mr. Knight’s class that went wrong.
“Ally Sleeva plans to attend the U of S taking pre-pharmacy courses to eventually become a
pharmacist. Ally is best known for distracting everyone in math class and getting distracted very
easily. Her favourite high school memories include Hoopla 2019 and laughing and joking around in Mr. Lowes’ room.
“Liam Spear plans to find a job and make money. His favourite high school memory is sliding down hills during lunch break.
“Madison Spear plans to attend Parkland College in Yorkton to become a nurse.
“The plans of Tessa Spokes include working next year and deciding what to do for post secondary school to be successful in life. Her favourite high school memories include friendships made.
“Ashley Stusek plans to attend the U of S in kinesiology with hopes of becoming a physical therapist and working with professional athletes. Ashley is best known for her style and being a Boston Bruins fan. Her favourite high school memory is the mannequin challenge in shop class with Mr. Machnee, as well as basketball trips.
“Rebekah Thomas plans to attend Parkland College in Yorkton next year, taking one year of Bachelor of Arts and Science, then apply to nursing school to become a registered nurse and eventually work in public health. Her favourite high school memory was reacting to her Hoopla 2019 pictures with everyone on her team.”
There were no person-to-person presentations during the ceremony, in keeping with social distancing guidelines. Graduates retrieved their diplomas from a table on the stage.
Graduates were awarded a total of 18 scholarships based on a fixed set of criteria.
Jessie Biletski received scholarships from Beta Master, CIBC, and Gateway Co-op.
Scholarships from Canora Ambulance and St. Joseph’s Catholic Women’s League went to Ashley Stusek.
Emma Mykytyshyn won Town of Canora and Canora Economic Development scholarships.
Rebekah Thomas received Canora Hospital Auxiliary and Canora Economic Development scholarships.
The Helen Forbes and Community Insurance scholarships were awarded to William Hauber.
Megan Barteski was the winner of the RCMP scholarship.
Jordelle Lewchuk was award scholarships from the Canora Lioness Club, Leson’s Funeral Home, and the University of Regina.
Ally Sleeva received the Crossroads Credit Union, Yorkton Curling Club, and Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Women’s League scholarships.
In the message from the principal, Cindy Smith reminded the graduates that “you’re living in a very notable part of human history, and no one got a practise run of how to handle this. We are left making our best guesses and being willing to change.
“You have the power to be whoever you want to be,” Smith told the graduates. “You are not defined by who you were yesterday. You have the right to grow and change. Graduation is a time where we think about who we will become. Many of you will leave your familiar surroundings and routines, your peer groups will change, and you will find an opportunity to redefine yourself. “Take your courage with you. It’s an old cliché, but a good one. Be the change that you want to see in this world. Make a difference, no matter how small. You’d be surprised how important small changes are. Small acts of kindness are magnified. They spread and they change culture. Be that spark in the world. We need you, your bright and engaged minds, your youthful energy, your hopefulness.
“Grads, from all of us at CCS, congratulations. We wish you all the best. We can’t wait to see where life takes you and what impact you have on this world.”
The guest speaker was Ernest Kozak, a former teacher of the graduating class.
“I had the pleasure of knowing and teaching most of the members of this class since Grade 5 and they were some of the finest young women and men I have met,” said Kozak. “Firstly, you should all be very proud of yourselves for accomplishing this goal. Well done! You have made history; you are the first class of CCS to have an outdoor graduation.
“Just as we thought the school year was coming to a smooth ending, we were suddenly faced with interruptions we never would have dreamt of. Classrooms were closed and you were faced with online learning. You lost the opportunity to participate in senior sports and drama and to display your school work and various projects. Probably the most significant change was the social interaction you lost with your friends.
“Losing your school year to the virus was not what you had planned, but it’s definitely an experience that will affect your lives forever with memories you will never forget. If the world is going to be a better place to live, then it will be up to you to change it.
“I feel that the most important thing in life is to have good health. Without it, you can’t live the life you want, so make sure you take care of your body and mind. Try to challenge yourself, even if others think it’s not a good idea. Think of yourself as a turtle. In order for the turtle to move ahead, it has to stick its neck out. There are going to be times in life when you’re going to have to stick out your neck. Instead of hiding in your shell, you have to go out and meet your challenges.
“Be nice to people. Trust and respect go a long way. It might even solve some of the world’s present problems. You never know when you’ll need to fall back on someone, so build strong connections with people early and maintain them.
“Never forget who you are and where you came from. Be proud of your parents, family and teachers, along with your school and community. Stay safe and the best of luck and success in the future.”
Father Franklin Emereuwa gave the blessing.
“Lord God, we are gathered here today, not of our own making but by Your benevolence. We thank You for guiding and protecting us through the pandemic. We thank You for our graduates, families and friends. We thank You for Your guidance and sustenance through this academic voyage.
“Lord, You empowered Your disciples after You groomed them under Your divine tutelage and strengthened them as You sent them into the world. Thus they were able to overcome their fears and weaknesses. They became successful and conquered the world.
“We pray that You come and strengthen our graduates who will be on another voyage of exploring further into the world. Imbue them with eyes to see opportunities, with the strength to conquer and the wisdom and ability to transform our society and the world for good.
“Bless our parents, teachers, guardians and all who have given their support to achieve this graduation. To the organizers of this event, for the time and energy they have put in, may You bless and reward them abundantly.
“May we always live to recount Your blessings and appreciate Your goodness in our lives. Grant these, through Christ our Lord, Amen.”
In his closing remarks, Terry Dennis encouraged the graduates to cherish their high school memories.
“Our class recently gathered for our 40th reunion, and I still remember a lot of the great times from high school.”
The ceremony closed with the grad/parent dance, where proud parents took a spin around the dance floor with their graduates.