Tributes given to teachers, students in Weyburn's virtual grad ceremony

A tribute was given to the teachers, and a reply was given from a long-time retiring teacher, as part of the virtual graduation ceremonies for the Weyburn Comprehensive School.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a live graduation ceremony was not deemed as possible, so all of the speeches for the ceremony were recorded, along with a video introduction of each of the 170 graduates.

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Student Arliss Sidloski provided the tribute for the teachers, while Donna Klein replied. Klein had a distant celebration of her retirement from teaching on Monday evening, as seen in the photo above, where fellow teachers came by to give her gifts and wish her well after 23 years at the Comp School.

In her speech, Sidloski used the Dr. Seuss story of the Lorax and its message of caring for and speaking for the trees. She said teachers cared for their students in much the same way, from when they were young like seedlings, helping them get their roots established in primary school, and then helping them grow taller and stronger through junior and senior high.

“You gently coaxed us from our shells and gave us up to the world of knowledge through Grades 1-3. You helped us develop a strong root foundation by teaching us how to read, write and do basic math,” said Sidloski.

“On more than one occasion, you helped us sort out our root systems as we encroached on each other. You have the title of teacher, but to us you were like parents,” she added, noting they cajoled the students to sprout and open up to the outside world.

She pointed out as they taught students to communicate better, the students “took this knowledge you gave us and used it to talk back and debate any instructions.”

By high school, “you were not only our academic teachers, but lifestyle role models. You gave lots of time to extracurricular activities, coaching sports, conducting choirs and bands, and running different peer clubs. You teachers are special people and we’re thankful someone like you cares a whole awful lot. We are all better, stronger and bigger and it’s because you teachers care a whole awful lot.”

In her reply, Klein noted she began at the Comprehensive in 1993, and taught art and English for 23 years.

“I want to congratulate the Class of 2020 for their accomplishment, and thank you. I can speak for the other teachers and tell you that you have made our jobs a lot more interesting, more fun, more dynamic and on some days more challenging,” said Klein.

She noted the quarantine due to COVID-19 has led to some positives, such as when she saw students out for walks with their parents or on bike rides with their friends.

“I’m sure some of you spent time on Tik Tok … or maybe a lot of time on Tik Tok,” she said. “I hope you learned a lot about yourselves during this pandemic.”

If their elementary teachers were asked why they chose this career, Klein said, they would reply, “Because I wanted to teach, I wanted to see students learn, and you did. They love seeing all of you guys learn how to read and write, and they saw the light switch go on, that first flicker that they are learning.”

Middle years teachers loved the energy of the students as they saw the glow of light in their eyes as students bounced into class to ask what they were going to do that day.

“High school teachers saw you move a little slower in the morning classes, and your light switches had a dimmer function. When you entered my class, the light was blinding, and friends who visited wished they could stay,” said Klein.

“Sometimes you made mistakes, and we made mistakes too. Did you know, Thomas Edison had 1,000 failed experiments, and the 1,001 time was the light bulb? We saw you fail, and we saw your light shine brightly too,” she added.

Making reference to this past year, she said, “It was a difficult school year for us, and I have to say, I don’t really like sitting at a computer desk all day, and I know you really didn’t like it either — but you made it through this challenge, and we’ll make it through all the weeks yet to come.

“On behalf of your teachers, I have one little request: be kind. Kindness is such a simple way to bring light in this world.”