With the 2016 school year nearly over Ponoka Secondary Campus’ Grade 12 students had a chance in the spotlight during graduation ceremonies held Friday, June 3.
It was standing room only at the Ponoka Curling Rink during the ceremony, which brought dignitaries from Wolf Creek Public Schools as well as First Nations representation.
Principal Ian Rawlinson said in his address to graduands that the biggest challenge of being an educator is there are times when it appears there is little success in certain endeavours.
He gave the account of a recent two-hour conversation with a staff member, which showed him that there are times when, even after hours of work and effort, the outcome didn’t seem successful. He says he wondered how he could change the world when students struggle with their math homework.
“I left feeling like I have lied to just about every graduation class I have ever talked to,” said Rawlinson.
He spoke of coming to the realization that he cannot change the world or impact other events such as the struggles in Fort McMurray, as an example.
“But, what if I shifted my thinking and thought about what I can change, not what I can’t? What if I made a choice,” he asked in his address.
The smallest decisions may have long term effects. Rather than staying on his phone, Rawlinson says he can turn it off and watch the sunset with his family or speak with his kids or buy a coffee for someone he knows to cheer them up.
“Maybe, just maybe, if we take a little time. Not give up on others. Care more, listen more,” suggested Rawlinson. “Share some kindness and talk, not text or Snapchat.”
He referred to a popular quote that while he cannot change the world, he can cast a stone to create many ripples.
This year’s valedictorian is Isabell Stamm and she praised parents, teachers and administration for getting graduates to this stage. “You have played a huge role to all our lives,” said Stamm.
“Our future is right around the corner,” she added.
She told graduates that while there remains uncertainty and change in their future, they will know the right path forward. “You’ll always know the path you were meant to be on.”
The next day graduates and families gathered for a banquet and dance in the main arena.
Commencement awards given at the grad and their recipients are as follows:
BIRCHLAND DENTAL CLINIC SCHOLARSHIP Delaney Brachmann
BRANDON SCHUR MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP Sky Rogalski
MECCA GLEN PARENT COUNCIL SCHOLARSHIP Tawni Kjenner
WILL’S WELDING SCHOLARSHIP Jordan Harrison
PONOKA KINETTE AWARD Madison Lanz
CORKERY STUDENT LEADERSHIP AWARD Alexandra Wynnychuk
FRIENDS OF CRESTOMERE SCHOLARSHIP Isabell Stamm
RUSSELL PETTERSON MEMORIAL AWARD Naomi Froese
SUNNY ’94 SCHOLARSHIP Meredith Delday
PONOKA LIONS CLUB AWARD – Most Improved Student Lillian Raugust
PONOKA LIONS CLUB AWARD – General Proficiency Award Courtney Chesterman
THE TOM BUTTERFIELD CREATING COWBOYS SCHOLARSHIP Jason Mirasty and Kayla Dueck
REGISTERED APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM AWARDS Nathan Zelinski
GREEN CERTIFICATE PROGRAM AWARD Ashlyn Frandson, Isabell Stamm, Madison Lanz
ALMITA SCHOLARSHIP Justin Hall
ROLLIE COMEAU & BRYAN MARTIN ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIP Lindsey Gartner
BRETT WIESE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP Pierce Clemmer
PEACE HILLS INSURANCE Harlin Buffalo
IRIS ZIPSE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP Nils Simons
JO-ANN SOCIAL FUND CITIZENSHIP SCHOLARSHIP Nikki Smith
ROTARY INTERNATIONAL – District 5360 INC. Lindsey Gartner and Tawni Kjenner
LONNY JACOBSON SCHOLARSHIP Hailey Boser
BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF PONOKA MENTORSHIP SCHOLARSHIP Alexandra Wynnychuk
P.S.C. PRINCIPAL’S AWARD Lindsey Gartner and Derek Van Pelt
VALEDICTORIAN AWARD Isabell Stamm