The Class of 2014 was encouraged to follow their dreams and to press on after they graduate from the Weyburn Comprehensive School, in the speeches given by the principal, school board trustee, teacher and parents at the graduation ceremonies on Thursday morning.
The new Cugnet Centre auditorium in the Triple C Centre hosted their first-ever graduation exercises, and it was standing-room only.
All 950 seats that were set out were filled, and estimates are that, including the 164 graduates on stage, there were between 1,400 and 1,500 people present for the ceremonies.
Principal Wade Oberg, whose daughter Mackenzie was among the graduates, called graduation “a turning point” in their lives, in his message to the class.
“Until now, your education has been methodically planned out for you; real life is different. Most real life events are unannounced,” said Oberg, adding that learning is a lifelong pursuit “and can be quite enjoyable, but not without tests.”
He noted how many high school students think their parents don’t know that much, and asked the students, as they get older, to watch and realize how smart their parents actually are.
He cautioned them to be wise in how they measure success in their lives, not so much to be “the best in the world”, but more if they’ve produced “their best for the world”.
“Leaving your best for the world will leave a legacy where everybody can be proud. Good luck as the world is at your feet,” said Oberg.
Former longtime teacher and current school board trustee for the Southeast Cornerstone School Division, Len Williams, whose twin sons Reece and Rhett are members of the graduating class, spoke as he brought greetings from the school board.
Noting that the Cornerstone division covers a large area from the Manitoba border to 100 km west of Weyburn, he urged the graduates to make an effort to vote in the next school board election when it comes up, as “voting is a fundamental right of democracy.”
He noted that various students of this graduating have been recognized nationally, provincially and locally and added, “We wish you continued success as you move on to another chapter in your life.”
Citing the Comp’s motto, which translated means, “Knowledge is power”, he urged them, “Continue to expand your knowledge, as an employee, an employer, as a spouse, or a mom or a dad — be your best.”
In the tribute to the parents, Keelyn Clark reminded them, “Nobody said any of this was going to be easy.”
Raising their children from infancy, to starting school on the first day of kindergarten, through everything they’ve gone through at school, the parents have always been there for their children, and no matter what mess may have been made, “you’ve never abandoned us or left us struggling.”
The parents’ role has gone from teaching the child how to walk and talk, to taking care of the monsters under the bed, up to taking care of broken hearts as they enter the teen years.
“Nothing can change the special relationship we can have with our parents. It’s a sense of reassurance that we’ll always have our parents on our side,” said Keelyn.
The reply was given by Drew and Laura Watson, whose daughter Alexis later gave the valedictory address.
Drew said all the parents present had the privilege to raise their children from creation “to the unique individual you are today.”
The couple shared some quips and humourous observations that they were going to put onto self-designed grad cards, and shared some of these with the audience.
“There are three kinds of people life,” quipped Drew. “Those who can count and those who can’t.”
“After 12 years in school, you can now say you’ve had a long career in backpacking,” added Laura, who added another observation: “One-seventh of your life will be a Monday.”
Drew earned laughter with this one: “As you travel down the path of life, remember not to claim expenses unless you’re a senator.”
Drew ended with a poignant wish: “If we could give you a super power, it would be the ability to see the world through our eyes, so you could see how much you mean to us.”
He added that the world the graduates are growing up is different from the world their parents grew up in, and said on behalf of all their family members, “We couldn’t be prouder of what you are and what you will do with what is to come.”
Student Kristin Smart provided the tribute to the teachers, and noted that all the teachers they’ve had, has had a part in shaping who they are today.
Referring specifically to their high school years, she said their teachers have had a great deal of influence in the three years of high school, whether leading in an extracurricular activity or teaching in class, or by being there for a word of advice or to lend an ear.
Kristin said the Comp “is no Hogwarts”, and they haven’t lived at the school but it may have felt like it sometimes, with classes, sports practices, drama and music practices and other extracurricular activities.
“Every one here at one time or another has sought out help from a teacher,” she said, and they have always been there when help is needed.
In response, teacher Kristy Gall spoke and referred to the graduates on the stage. “I’ve had the pleasure of teaching most of these students in the last three years. It gives me great pleasure to give the address to these students.”
She told the students if they get knocked down, they need to get up and “do it better” the next time.
In addition, the students should follow their passions and fight for their beliefs, and use their human spirit to keep on striving for more.
“There will be days when you goals seem unreachable. This is when you must work hard and get through the rough times. Your family, friends and the community of Weyburn will be behind you,” said Gall.
The Graduation choir sang two songs, “Dream On”, originally by Aerosmith, and “Time of Your Life”, originally by Green Day.
The evening program included a tribute to the girls by Justin Claude, and a reply from Randi-Lynn Blacquier and Callahan Huebner, and the 2014 Grad Video, and the Chem-Free after grad activities in the gym.