Family, friends and teachers came together to honour 14 Canora Composite School (CCS) graduates on June 28 at the school auditorium.
Members of the graduating class were: Abbey Sakal, Amber Weinbender, April Jennings, Bryce Pelechaty, Cory Motilaga, Emma Eiteneier, Graeme Wilgosh, Janayah Merriam, Kaitlyn Landstad, Kody Checkowy, Logan Statchuk, Nathan Bucsis, Paityn Zuravloff and Taralee Bazarski.
In his opening remarks, Dustin Nielsen, teacher and emcee, said, “Graduates, it’s awesome to see you here. I’ve known you right from Grade 5 to Grade 12. Congratulations on this huge achievement.”
A total of 16 scholarships were presented to the graduates based on a fixed set of criteria.
Janayah Merriam won the Canora Hospital Auxiliary scholarship.
Taralee Bazarski received the Canora Ag Society scholarship.
Emma Eiteneier won the Beta Sigma Phi Scholarship and the St. Joseph’s Catholic Women’s League scholarship.
Kaitlyn Landstad received the Town of Canora scholarship.
Graeme Wilgosh was awarded the Canora RCMP scholarship.
April Jennings received the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) scholarship and the Canora Lioness scholarship.
Amber Weinbender won the Canora Ambulance scholarship and the Gateway Co-op scholarship.
Paityn Zuravloff was awarded the Canora Economic Development scholarship and the Crossroads Credit Union scholarship.
Abbey Sakal won the Crop Production Services scholarship and the Richardson Pioneer scholarship.
Logan Statchuk received the Community Insurance scholarship and the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League scholarship.
Cindy Smith, principal, presented the scrolls to the graduates and gave the administrator’s remarks.
“We are pleased to honour our graduates for their academic success and all the hard work, sweating and cramming that went into it. Your teachers have been with you since Grade 5 through your successes and failures, and encouraged you to keep trying. Today is a milestone for you graduates, but also for the teachers and parents.
“Even though you are graduating, always be proud of where you’re from.”
The guest speaker was Katherine LeBlanc, former CCS principal.
“It’s an absolute pleasure to be speaking to you today. I had the pleasure of meeting this graduating class and teaching you in Grade 11 History. I have grown so very fond of all of you.
“You have chosen the motto ‘So the adventure begins,’ but I would suggest ‘The adventure continues.’
“Attending school has taught you many things that will be very important in your lifelong adventure. You have been taught to learn. From school you have also learned resilience.
School has taught you perseverance, and how to work together for a common cause.
“So what adventure will you take? Will you go to university or college? Maybe you will take up a trade. Will you enter the workforce? Will you travel and see the world? Whatever your adventure is and where ever it takes you, I am going to ask you to follow some very important principles that I find to be valuable.
“One is respect. This is respect for others, for the environment, for our community and most importantly have respect for yourself. If you do not have respect for yourself, how do you ever expect anyone to have it for you? Live your life in a respectful way.
“The next thing I ask you it to be open and inclusive. Be welcoming of others. I think that is one of the things that we as Canadians are known for.
“Listen to new ideas and don’t be afraid of change. Change can be scary, especially when we are getting older. We like what is status quo. If we didn’t have change, I today would not be able to vote, to teach after marriage, be able to own land. Change happens, and we need to learn how to embrace it.
“Pay it forward. Be a good community member. This is something that I have tried to instill as a mother and as a teacher. My children and I would always give our time. One summer we volunteered at the hospital. Although the residents were grateful, it gave us something even greater. We felt pride. Helping others gives us a feeling of self-worth too. Please do not be wrapped up in this ‘me’ world. Give of yourself, it goes further than you can imagine.
“I ask that when you continue your adventure you aren’t afraid to make mistakes. Our world seems to focus so much on making sure we are perfect or we get the best marks or place in a competition. A grade does not define us. Failing does not mean we are failures. It means we need to find new and innovative ways to meet our goals.
“I want you to forge a path of your own. You are each armed with the necessary tools.
“Taralee, you are self motivated and determined, ready to forge your own path. Nathan you are the orator. You have the power to persuade. Please use this wisely. Kody, you have determination. I admire your drive and will to succeed.
“Emma, your loyalty shines through for your friends and your team, who else cheers as much for our Leafs? April, you are a champion to those who need one. You are devoted to friends and family.
“Kaitlyn, you have one of the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever met. This is something I admire so much. Janayah, I love your passion and your drive. I could see it in the way you lead on and off the court. Cory, you are caring of others. You have a gentle heart.
“Bryce, you have charm and charisma. Use this wisely. Abbey, you have spunk girl. You are determined, energetic and you will let nothing stop you from accomplishing your dreams.
“Logan, that smile and the way you can find humour in the things around you makes people gravitate towards you. Graeme you are artistic, articulate, creative and engaging. These skills will make you a great teacher. I am excited that you are entering my profession.”
“Paityn, you are a thinker. You have deep thoughts and good ideas. This will take you places. Amber, you are a true giver. You give of your time and yourself. This is a quality that I admire so much.”
LeBlanc left the graduates with a closing piece of encouragement.
“Life is not a remote control. If you want to make a change, get up and do it yourself because no one will do it for you.”
The graduating class chose Abbey Sakal as valedictorian.
“I’m here to reflect on our past years here at CCS, predict our outstanding, bright futures, and hopefully, reduce you all to tears. I’d like to start off by saying that this is a huge, huge honour, for you to all be here listening to me today.
“This speech is lovingly titled Life Beyond the Stench of the Chicken Barns and I should begin it by saying that I’m not going to give everyone the Hallmark version of a valedictorian address, you know, the traditional commencement of ‘as I stand here, I see future pioneers of technology, lawyers, and surgeons.’ So don’t get your hopes up. No, it’s cruel to give you such high hopes, because we are all going to be broke students for the next four to eight years, so get used to it.
“Having our time here at CCS come to an end is a bit surreal. Now we won’t have Ms. Forbes around anymore to stealthily steal the toast cart whenever we are hungry in her class, even though she knew that sometimes we just wanted to waste class time. More importantly, it accurately and concisely ends what has been for most of us, 12 years of education. That’s 12 hard, tough years.
“Throughout those years, we have created bonds with the school. We now know which classrooms are the coldest; its all of them. And we also know that we, or more specifically Kaitlyn, should not put snow on the thermostat sensor to make it warmer, because apparently if you do that to the furnace, you will end up breaking the furnace.
“We have also created close relationships with our teachers here at CCS and I think that I speak for all of us in saying that we all will value and miss those relationships later in life.
“Ms. Forbes, we will miss your lullaby-like voice that you use to so sweetly rock us all to sleep while you explain how carbon bonds to other elements. Or how you can make methylbenzene, ethylbenzene, isopropyl benzene, and bromobenzene. Don’t worry I have no idea what I just said either. Ms. Forbes, these past three years you have been our shoulder to cry on, our ray of sunshine, and the best bio and chem teacher we could ask for.
“Then there was Ms. Odell’s English classes, oh boy. Leave it to Nathan to get the whole class, including Ms. Odell, riled up over Trump, gun laws, or any other new touchy subject that arose. Listening to Ms. Odell and Nathan get into heated debates for almost the entire class will be something that was a privilege to witness and something that we will all remember forever. So thank you Ms. Odell, for putting up with Nathan, sitting through Bryce’s hilariously brutal king soliloquies in Hamlet, and for making me literate enough to write and speak this speech.
“Then we have Mr. Lowes. He taught us to always double check our signs. He taught us the right and wrong rims to get, and the best places to do donuts. OK, it wasn’t as much of a math class as it was an automotive class.
“He has a fantastic memory when it comes to his students. Even if he didn’t teach you for very long, he would have some sort of story about you. Mr. Lowes has given us a ton of advice slogans during our time here such as ‘just say no,’ ‘snapchat bad, math good’ and ‘don’t be a fool stay in school.’ Mr. Lowes, you will be greatly missed, and I’m sure more than likely the majority of us will be calling you up for help with math questions, or for car help when we leave here.
“Last but not least, there’s Mr. Nielsen and Mr. Baillie. I’m pretty sure if we didn’t have them to chirp everyday, we would all go crazy, especially Paityn, who, at every opportunity, made sure to put Mr. Nielsen in his place. He made sure that we would know every awful late 90s or early 2000s punk song that he played literally in every computer class, and also made sure we all knew to watch out when he would practice his golf swing in the middle of the computers.
“Mr. Bailee taught us that somehow we can still get good marks in gym class without doing a single fitness test all year. He taught us that gym teachers can also double as History 30 teachers.
“Being such a small class, I must say, especially looking at all of us today, we are 14 of the best-looking kids at CCS. As a class, we have gone through a lot together. There was the great butterfly disaster of Grade 6, when we lovingly raised caterpillars. They turned out to be beautiful butterflies, until we came back from a weekend to find them all dead on the classroom floor.
“Then Grade 7 came, and this weird Manitoban named Graeme showed up, and we were never the same. I would talk about Grades 8 and 9, but we don’t speak about those awkward, pimply, and hormone filled years. There was that one time we learned about Greek mythology for that one day; thanks Mr. Knight. After that, we entered high school, and I’d like to mention our class was the only one to be able to take Shop class, but not Home Ec. So, we can build ourselves a house, but don’t expect us to know how to cook in it.
“Grades 10, 11, and 12 were our years where we slowly started to be our own individuals. We saw Amber become Einstein, Logan become a car expert, Emma become the sassiest girl in our class, and we saw April rock every hair color she desired. Our final years here at CCS have been memorable ones.
“The senior girls basketball team made it to HOOPLA, and I don’t think anyone was more excited for that than Janayah.
“There was that one day when Kody’s whole back axel broke in two while driving out of the school parking lot. Nobody got hurt, but I think we were all a little heart broken seeing Kody’s old ‘84 Chevy truck lying there on the road.
“There was also that one afternoon a group of us all skipped fourth period to go back-roading in Taralee’s jeep. This left the jeep stuck in the middle of a wet field, and Graeme, covered head to toe in mud from trying to push her out. Good times hey Gram?
“This past year we also were fortunate to have Cory as a new addition to our small class. If there was an award for sweetest smile, Cory would take the cake on that one.
“Thank you grads, for all of the memories; the good, the bad, and the hilarious. I hope we all get to wherever we are going, and that everything works out in the end.
“I guess this is the part where I should give some A1 advice to my fellow classmates, even though I also have no idea what on earth I’m gonna do now. I’ve pondered what would be good advice to give to such a diverse class, and I’ve come up with this.
“Class of 2018, in life we do things. Wait, there’s more.
“In life we do things. Some things we wish we had never done and some we wish we could replay a million times in our heads. But they all make us who we are, and in the end, they shape every detail about us. If we were to reverse any of them, we wouldn’t be the individuals we are right now.
“So just live, make mistakes, have wonderful memories. But never ever second guess who you are, where you have been, and most importantly where it is you’re going. I would like to truly thank all of you for giving me the honour of speaking on your behalf. But most importantly, for being the best class I could have asked for during the past 12 years of my life. We have now gone through high school, which wasn’t easy, but most importantly, we got through it together. “Congratulations class of 2018. And so our adventure really does begin now.
“I have ‘mic drop’ written on my paper, but my mom would like to get that $50 caution fee from Grade 5 back, so I’ll just leave you with a wise quote from Khloe Kardashian.
“It’s been magical, but I’m done.”