The 2019 graduating class from Ponoka Secondary Campus has been left reaching for the stars.
The theme of this year’s class was “Under the Stars,” which held its commencement ceremony at the Ponoka Curling Club on June 1.
A total of 78 students made the trek up and down the stairs to collect their high school diplomas while receiving some sage words of advice from a variety of dignitaries. There were also 25 different bursaries and scholarships handed out to 30 students totalling more than $13,000.
Lorrie Jess, Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) trustee for Ponoka, was among the dignitaries to congratulate the students on this grand achievement that has been 13 years in the making.
“Just remember, this diploma is an insurance policy with the premium paid in full. While it is not a guarantee, it is a stepping stone for whatever you want,” she said.
“It allows you the same opportunities as everyone else. And always remember, there will be people cheering you on as you embark on achieving your goals.”
The school has long served some of the First Nations in the area and, in recent years, seen numerous students pass through and graduate. So, it was an honour to have Leonard Standing on the Road, chief of the Montana Cree Nation, speak and bring a message to all of the graduates.
“The first part on the journey of life and you need to give yourselves a pat on the back for what you have accomplished,” he said.
“Things are different now. To get a job all you needed was a strong back and a willingness to work. On your journey, whatever you pursue, you have got to have a plan then life can throw some hard lessons at you.”
Meanwhile, this was the first class to receive the principal’s address from newly hired Kathy McTaggart, who attempted to pass off the speech to the former principal.
“He declined, but I did have printed your giant program just in case,” she joked to start her speech, which focused on the grad theme.
“I wanted to make sure I said something profound, that you would remember, inspire you, advice useful for the future.”
She outlined the process she undertook to write the speech along with the twists and potholes experienced, concluding, “At this moment, I am so proud and thankful of the wonderful young adults sitting here in front of me. What an accomplishment to finish 12 years of schooling, to be prepared and supported by everyone for the next exciting phase of life. But, my next thought was, what am I going to say to all of these people for my grad speech — I got nothin’.”