By Tiffany Williams
The St.Augustine School family gathered in their gym on May 22 to recognize the achievements of their graduating students, many of those students who had received their entire schooling at St.A’s. This year marked the second graduating class from St.A’s as they continue to grow. In their first ceremony in 2007 they had six grads walk across the stage and this year they had 22.
The evening started out as the graduates marched in wearing black robes and green sashes to the song ‘Forever Young’ by Neil Young. As they walked past their family and friends the cameras flashed and smiles beamed.
MP for Wetaskiwin and Ponoka Blaine Calkins spoke to the grads. He informed them that they can achieve important goals and to stay forever young they needed to set goals. He compared life as a jigsaw puzzle with no picture and said that there are several pieces that they can work to influence. The first piece he said was earning creditability; by going into a trade, post-secondary education or on the job training. He said that knowledge is key to earning respect and credibility. The second piece was being dependable, which takes time to develop. The third was personal motivation and that you need to set goals because you will be rewarded and what you can achieve is mind-boggling. His last piece was confidence and that failures are inevitable but you can learn from those failures. He concluded by saying that you need to remember to fit the puzzle pieces together and your life with reveal a beautiful picture.
St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic School trustee Maria Lentz said that it was exciting and encouraging to see the number of graduates this year. She wished the class success and shared with them the definition of success written by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Success: To laugh often and much. To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children. To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty. To find the best in others. To leave the world a bit better place, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a better social condition. To know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.
The class nominated their former teacher Tracy Melnyk to speak to them on their graduation. She had taught many of them starting in Grade 5 and had watched them grow up over the years. Although she is no longer at the school she spoke words of wisdom to the class with a poem, after she had made them write so many. As she finished she said this: “I am a believer to be true to oneself, don’t ever be something for somebody else. Do what you love and love what you do, your own happiness is created by you,” said Melnyk. “Your path lays before you, so make your mark, do not leave yourself alone in the dark. Go forth my friends with a smile on your face and when you are happy, you have found your place.”
The class valedictorian was Wesley Wilson who said that this was a turning point in the student’s life. For some they knew what they were going to and others did not, he reassured them that as long as they remained true to themselves they would be fine. He reminded the class that not all things work out on the first try and that nearly any obstacle can be overcome with perseverance and hard work.
“I don’t think my classmates would ever give up on something meaningful to who they are. It takes dedication, though, as a dream can only be fulfilled if one has confidence and the will to pursue it,” said Wilson.
Principal Kevin Prediger reminded them that their school motto is ‘Let your Light Shine’ from Matthew 5:14-16. He said that all the graduates have truly let their light shine and in turn have brightened the lives of those around them throughout their time at St.A’s.
The evening was also filled with laughter as the class of 2008 passed on to the next graduating class things like a deck of cards, the new student council chair, good looks and the templates of the decorations.