For the 25 people recognized, they have the distinction of being the last ones to be called graduates of Ponoka Outreach School.
The Class of 2018 held its graduation ceremony on May 17 at the Kinsmen Community Centre and hold the honour of the final batch of graduates with the name of the alternative school set to be switched this fall.
Parents, friends, other family of the graduates were joined by the school’s staff as well as dignitaries representing Wolf Creek Public Schools, Maskwacis community and the Town of Ponoka for an evening that many of the students have been working toward for years in some cases.
“Know that this is a big deal, that we celebrate you, your work to this point and believe that this is only the beginning,” assistant principal Erin Freadrich pointed out.
Principal Ian Tisdale, as well as teacher Johnathan MacEachern, expanded on that statement through their messages to the graduates with a focus on what kind of future lay ahead.
“There are memorable moments in our life, and in those moments, there is a lot of power that happens,” Tisdale said.
Going on, he mentioned the various powers the graduates have — human spirit, determination, collaboration, community, dreams, hope and love — and just how they need to use these to power themselves forward in the future.
“I want to leave you with four pieces of advice. Never be settled with who you are, discover who you will become, and always want to make yourself a better person. Look at the people in your life who you respect and listen to them,” he said.
“Find your passion, chase after it and if it is really your dream, you will find a way to make it happen. And lastly, be thankful to your friends, family and all of the teachers that have helped you along the way. I’m proud of our grad class and amazed at what you have accomplished.”
Following the toasts to the parents and staff — from graduates Lucas McLeod and Emily Rogers respectively — MacEachern (aka Mr. Mac) provided the toast to the students, pointing out just how diverse this class is.
“Some are reserved and independent, others larger than life, some have grand post-secondary ambitions, others hoping just to get out there and earn a decent paycheque as they plan their next move,” he explained.
“But, every last one has shown true grit and determination to get their high school diploma. No one is going to leave and live happily ever after, you have a duty to go out and make beauty and meaning. You will face set back, disappointments, strange rewards which contain challenges themselves, opening up or closing opportunities.”
He continued on with a poem called You Can’t Have It All, by Barbara Ras— eventually giving the graduates this concluding message, “Grads, you don’t need me saying you can’t have it all. But, there is this — this is your accomplishment, your night, the real thing. Let it in. We are all very proud of you. Here’s to your future.”
That ceremony included the traditional procession, accepting of diplomas, congratulatory speeches and slides showcasing the past year at the school and the lives of the graduates.