High school graduation seems like a long time ago for most people and for some it was only eight years ago. Achieving your high school certificate is a very significant moment in a person’s life, in some ways the next step that you make can define the rest of your life.
The 2006 Canadian Census reported that 8.5 per cent of Albertans did not have their high school certificate. Although the data does not state the reasons for not obtaining a high school education there can be many legitimate reasons for not graduating.
However, according to new census data, education is the key to higher earnings. Albertans between the ages of 25 and 64 working a full-time full year basis, with a bachelor degree received a median earning of $61,485 in 2005. Those who had achieved a post-bachelor degree had an even higher median earning $73,607, which is more than twice the earnings of Albertans with less than a high school education whose median earnings were $35,422.
Everything starts with completing your high school education in today’s society. If you don’t have that you cannot move on to post-secondary education or go into certain trade programs. Society keeps evolving and changing, for example, 50 years ago just over half of the adult population had less than a Grade 9 education according to Stats Canada. However, by 2002 45 per cent of Canadians 15 and older had completed some form of postsecondary education.
In eight short years since my graduation celebrations have also changed. Growing up in a town just a little bit bigger than Ponoka we had our graduation formal in May and the formal ceremony in June after our exams were over. One interesting thing about graduation in Ponoka is the whole community embraces and celebrates the accomplishments of the graduates. The town will be on the lookout for the limousines to wave at or will give the horses on the buggies a carrot as a treat. Family also plays an important part of the celebration as they are welcomed to the grads’ banquet. It is vital to appreciate your family during graduation because many times they were the ones who helped with homework, drove to school for sports and events and supported you when things were not going well with that special someone or a group of friends.
The schools in Ponoka offer their graduating classes a unique opportunity to cherish these moments with parents. It is also important for parents to remember that this is a huge accomplishment for their children and to let them enjoy their special day.
Ponoka also has different celebrations for the graduates to embrace. The dry grad is put on by volunteers after the banquet and dance and it is a fun time for the students to get involved. The night will offer games and big prizes and will run all night at the Kinsmen Community Centre. The Ponoka Composite High School theme song for the graduating class of 2008 is ‘Here’s to the Night’ by Eve 6, dry grad is an event that the students will go to and say ‘Here’s to a night that we will remember for the rest of our lives.’ There will be other grad parties, but the dry grad promotes partying without a substance.
Another place that the grads can go to is the safe grad. It is a celebration organized by volunteers where the grads can celebrate in a supervised environment. Adult volunteers will ensure that the celebrations are safe and that no one enters into a vehicle under the influence. It is important that no matter how grads celebrate that they do it safely and responsibly.
My graduating class has moved on and many have succeeded. From my class there is an Olympic athlete, a country music star, teachers, lawyers, accountants, trades people and many more occupations. Who knows what will become of the class of 2008? We would have never accomplished most of these tasks without the basis of a high school education and hard work.
If you choose to go into post-secondary education or a trades school, no matter how fun it is or the experiences that you have it is a lot of hard work to earn your degree or certificate. Sometimes it can be a very scary experience. For some graduates they will know exactly what they want to be, for me I wanted to be a reporter/editor since I was 10 years old. On the other hand there may be some who have no idea what they want to be or where they want to go, this is perfectly OK as well or you might change your mind a thousand times before you decide on your chosen career path, again this is OK.
Sometimes you will learn life’s biggest lessons outside the classroom. You may even fall in love along the way, no matter what you still need to finish all of your essays and assignments even if it means pulling a few all nighters.
The biggest thing to remember is you will make mistakes and you will learn from them. You may fall but you will always get back up and even though they say high school is the best time of your life things that comes next are the biggest adventure of all. It is the rest of your life, enjoy.