St. Augustine School’s 37 grads of the class of 2019 proudly walked across the stage to receive their diploma scrolls May 23.
Cheyeanne Rowan and Kenisha Ayuno sang O’ Canada and a prayer was given by Jaymee Klinger to open the ceremony.
A welcoming address was given by St. Thomas Aquinas superintendent Charlie Bouchard.
Bouchard chose to share some of the words of wisdom from Winnie the Pooh, including Christopher Robin who said, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you know.”
He told the grads they were all created with unique talents and abilities and that although they may feel sad to graduate and leave friendships behind, to take a breath, remember who they are and that they are worthy in the eyes of God and remember the words of Winnie the Pooh:
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Bruce Cutknife, Indigenous education coordinator for Maskwacis Education Schools Commission, gave brief congratulations and greetings to the grads.
Coun. Kevin Ferguson, a former teacher, also spoke on behalf of town council.
The keynote speaker was Lindsey Clark, a St. Augustine teacher currently on leave who taught the graduating class from Grade 7 to 11.
Clark recounted stories of the class from over the year, including frustration at their antics coupled with clear affection for the grads.
“We had a lot of fun together didn’t we?” she said.
Reading the list of grads, she says she had “so many wonderful thoughts and memories come to life.
“It may have felt like a long 12 or 13 years together but you have built a lot of character and resilience.”
The slide show, a traditional part of St. Augustine’s graduation ceremony, showed baby pictures of the grads through different stages, with a quote chosen by the grad with their grad photo.
Some grads chose to quote from the greats: George Orwell, Wayne Gretzy and Rosa Park’s simple and profound “no.”
Others chose inspirational quotes from fictional characters such as Albus Dumbledore and Raymond Reddington (from The Blacklist), and a few chose their favourite Bible verses.
A couple of students showed their humorous sides, choosing to quote themselves.
Teagan Morrison said, “I didn’t prepare a grad quote because I didn’t think I’d make it this far.”
Another student chose, “Goodbye everyone, Ill remember you all in therapy” by anonymous.
One quote said “Money is like manure; it’s no good until you spread it around.”
Grads Aidan Gratton and Priscilla Bonsu passed a torch to two students from Grade 11, Matthew Dela Cruz and Madison Fleck, with some sage advice for surviving their senior year.
A school tradition, the passing of the torch is a symbolic and actual torch. Next year when they graduate, Dela Cruz and Fleck will give the torch to two new Grade 11 students.
Bonsu told the Grade 11 students to “cherish your high school moments,” and to take time for self-care.
Gratton was also the 2019 class valedictorian.
In his speech, he spoke about how attending St. Augustine was a unique experience that wouldn’t have been afforded him anywhere else. As a k-12 school in a small town, the students are able to form personal relationships with instructors.
“It’s a rare gift, being recognized as an individual,” he said, adding it enriched his high school experience.
He asked his fellow grads to acknowledge the people in their lives that helped them reach graduation saying, “their guidance is worthy of immense gratitude.”
Gratton addressed his own parents next.
“Mom, Dad, you have always encouraged me in anything I’ve wanted to try … I know it hasn’t always been easy but look at the results.”
To the grads, he said although they will go along planned paths or pulled in different directions, or both, the most important thing was that they all become their own best selves, quoting J.R.R. Tolkien, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
The evening was finished with remarks from principal Kevin Prediger and the presentation of the scrolls.
Prediger told the grads to forgive when needed, to be grateful and to use their diverse skills and talents to serve God in all they do.