St. Andrew’s celebrates Class of 2020

Graduate Danielle Beaver, left, is all smiles after receiving her diploma from St. Andrew’s Principal Marc Lamoureux.

The Grade 12 class at High Prairie St. Andrew’s School held its graduation ceremony June 25. To respect social distancing during the pandemic, families drove into the parking lot, parked and watched their children receive diplomas and listen to speeches from their vehicles.

Message from St. Andrew’s Principal Marc Lamoureux

Dear Graduates of 2020,

You are graduating in a year of change. A couple of months ago, [Joanne] Baird put a quote on the whiteboard outside of our offices. It read, “May you live in interesting times.”

She was soon informed that this quote was an old Chinese curse which was a surprise to her as she put it on the board thinking it was positive to live in interesting times. I guess the meaning is a reflection of the perspective of the person reading it.

Change often scares us. We like the feeling of stability. It helps us feel safe. This makes the interesting times a curse.

Change drives growth, flexibility, ingenuity, and greater capacity to face what comes which make interesting times a positive thing.

Life is full of change and we all change as the years go by. The trick to making interesting times a positive thing is to understand that change is ever present and to embrace change.

I invite you as graduates today to realize that you have faced many challenges over the years. You’ve learned to read, count, dribble a ball, manage conflicts, help others, and write exams. In recent months you have adjusted to a home learning environment where you have had to work more independently and collaboratively with your peers. You have learned to access external resources and to reach out to your teachers for help.

These are skills and actions of strong adults.

If you are graduating today, you had to be strong, focussed, and have personal discipline to get to this point.

As you go into life, draw on what you have learned, be strong, be focussed, be confident. Ask for information from the wise and experienced. Ask for help often. Help others. The most successful people have regularly asked for help and ideas.

Get back up if you get knocked down. Everybody gets knocked down. The successful get back up.

Walk towards what is dark and scares you. The more you examine challenges and break them down to smaller pieces the more doable they become.

Do your research, get the data, reflect, then take action. Without action your life does not move forward.

Graduate Jared Gomes, centre, receives his diploma from St. Andrew’s Principal Marc Lamoureux, right. On the left is Holy Family Regional Catholic Division trustee for High Prairie, Carmelle Lizee.

Valedictorian’s address: ‘connected by memories’

By Hope Keshen

Hope Keshen

Good evening classmates, parents, teachers and staff. It is an honour to be graduating beside you all today.

I would like to thank Mrs. Lizee, Mr. Lamoureux and the teachers and staff of St. Andrew’s. Thank you to family, friends and everyone present here today. You have all shaped us into the people we are today, and without your support we could have become extremely different individuals.

Many of us have attended St. Andrew’s since kindergarten, others from junior high or senior high, but no matter the length of time here we all have many great memories of this school. I think we can all agree that the Grade 9 trip was a big highlight from our school years.

But we also didn’t have to leave the province for memorable moments. Many came from inside the classroom. For me, moments like Mrs. Billiard’s Science 10 escape rooms, Chemistry experiments with Ms. Vietch [especially my potassium permanganate accident], dissections in biology with Ms. Canon, and the unbearable reading of Romeo and Juliet in English with Voysey where we ridiculed the entire play. These and so many more are ingrained in my brain never to be forgotten.

The year 2020 is an especially memorable one. Each month seems to bring a new situation we have to learn to adapt to. I don’t think any of us expected our last day of high school would be on a random Friday in March. The global outbreak of COVID-19 brought a tremendous amount of changes to our daily lives. Scheduled classes changed into virtual meetings, our peers became distant and a once full parking lot is now empty.

Despite the experiences we may feel like we missed out on, we are resilient and adaptable. We’ve been able to continue to work hard and we should be proud of our success not only this troubled semester, but of our entire academic careers so far.

While this may not have been the picture perfect senior year I’m sure we all imagined, we have learned valuable lessons of determination and we are still here as a graduating class of 2020 who have been bonded together by this crazy experience. While we may have to be six feet apart, we still are able to come together and celebrate this milestone in our lives.

A special thank you goes out to all the staff who have helped not only myself, but also my fellow graduates. You have helped guide us towards a successful future. The amount of kindness and investment into both our academic and personal lives has been amazing. Teachers, too, were able to overcome the struggle of no longer teaching in a classroom and were still able to provide us with the material needed to be successful in our courses.

These unprecedented times have been made easier through the amount of time each one of our teachers have set aside to make the transition from in class to online easier and as always they were still there for us when questions arose. Without their help none of us would be standing here today. Thank you for pushing us on the days we did not want to learn as well as allowing us to go off curriculum with your stories and words of wisdom.

When I was in elementary I always looked into the high school and couldn’t believe how grown up they looked. It’s crazy to think how we are now the students that elementary kids see when they are going to Music. We have our whole futures ahead of us. Our adaptability will allow us to reach the many goals we have set for ourselves whether it be psychology, engineering, entertainment, health care or a trade. Even if we haven’t totally decided our next steps it’s OK because we are the class that rolls with whatever life and this crazy world throws at us and we overcome.

We may drift apart, but we will always be connected by the memories we share.

A big congratulations to us, the Class of 2020! I wish everyone health and happiness in your future and I am confident that we will be resilient in any struggles the future may bring us.

In closing, I would like to leave you with words from Harriet Tubman. “Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach the stars to change the world.”

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