Twenty Ponoka Outreach grads cross the stage

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Ponoka Outreach School graduate Lana Smeall receives her diploma from principal Scott Lewis.

ADAM JACKSON/Ponoka News

It took years of hard work to achieve, but for the graduating class from Ponoka Outreach School, their futures have just begun.

At the graduation ceremony and awards banquet on June 7, 20 students crossed the stage to receive their diplomas at the Kinsmen Community Centre.

After a dinner, the crowd of nearly 150 heard enlightening speeches from keynote speakers Lorrie Jess and Jayson Lovell.

Jess, who is a trustee on the Wolf Creek Public Schools board, used the school’s graduation song I Hope You Dance as a theme in her address to the students “Life is just a big dance,” said Jess. “Sometimes you’re going to lead, sometimes you are going to follow and sometimes you are going to mess on your footwork.”

Jess, who has been in a wheelchair for more than half of her life, used her own experiences to drive her speech and ensure that the students make the most of their lives.

“There will be times in your life, when you fear the mountains, so dance fearlessly,” said Jess. “Class of 2011, I hope you dance your socks off, congratulations,” she finished.

Lovell’s speech was directed toward the future and how the graduating students will look back at their graduation.

“I graduated high school in 1986. The time of the acid wash jeans,” said Lovell to cheers from the more mature attendees. “If I could go back to when I was 17 years old, like a lot of the graduating students tonight, I think I would challenge myself to think very deeply about my hopes and my dreams, but more importantly, I would thank the people who helped me realize my hopes and my dreams.”

For the first time ever at a graduation ceremony, three students had the opportunity to wow the audience with musical and dancing performances. Jamie Lewis and Jaron Morin sang and Paskwa Lightning had a performance that surprised a few attendees — a traditional aboriginal fancy dance.

After the graduating students received their diplomas from principal Scott Lewis, the students were able to participate in the quintessential cap throwing.

“Class, if you would please raise your right hand and move your tassel to the left,” said Lewis. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my pleasure to introduce to you the class of 2011.”

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