There was much to be thankful for during a Maskwacis graduation ceremony that saw 28 students looking to their future.
Held at the Nipisihkopahk Secondary School (NSS) Thursday, June 23, there were a total of 28 graduates, 10 from NSS and 18 from the Maskwacis Outreach School.
The special ceremony included an honour song and invocation by elder Flora Northwest. She was pleased to see a large number of students interested in furthering their education. “This is the first year I know that some of these students are going to university.”
NSS principal Alvina Flormann added her congratulations and said she is pleased with the growing number of Maskwacis graduates. Each year the number grows despite personal challenges and struggles along the way.
She praised parents and grandparents for supporting the students in their elementary and high school years. “Some of you are raised by your grandparents and we thank you, too,” said Flormann.
Outreach school principal Sharon Seright also praised family members for supporting the students who have become role models in their schools.
“You are role models whether you know it or not,” Seright explained.
The graduates recently walked through the halls of the elementary schools to give the younger students a look at the older students.
Kevin Wells, superintendent of the Nipisihkopahk Education Authority (NEA), said he is pleased to have seen the graduates start at a young age who are now onto a new chapter in their lives. This accomplishment has been celebrated with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the ministry is sharing the news around the country.
NEA chairperson Marvin Yellowbird added there are new and exciting developments in First Nations education. He referred to a recent signing of a letter of intent to work with the Government of Alberta to bring equal funding standards to First Nations schools in the province.
This letter is the first step intended to bring cree education and cultural programs to First Nations learning. Yellowbird also praised graduates for their dedication. “Continue to set your standard high and dream big.”
Also speaking was NSS staff member Colleen McKay who provided some words of wisdom. She spoke on nine topics:
Make mistakes: “Make big ones and small ones but learn from them.”
Be brave and take chances: she advises trying new things and not getting too caught up in why they cannot do them.
Be kind. “It will make the world of difference to those around you.”
“Find what you love and do it,” stated McKay of the fourth idea.
Be a person of action and be an agent of change.
Learn to adapt to life changes. “Don’t try to stop the waves, learn how to surf.”
Never stop learning. McKay said education can open many doors and to pursue those opportunities.
Have a strong self-esteem. “Love yourself and be proud of the person you are.”
Here are the graduates:
Nipisihkopahk Secondary School
Maskwacis Outreach School