The Weyburn Comprehensive School held their virtual graduation ceremonies online on Saturday evening, following a reverse parade held to honour the Class of 2020 in the afternoon.
The speeches for the ceremony were recorded, as were the introductions of each of the 170 graduates, and the ceremonies were shown online with a special password sent out to the families of the grads. The school decided on this form of graduation due to the restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic, which would only allow for a limited number of people to gather.
(Shown above are screen shots of principal Ryan Fowler from his address, and valedictorian Brett Bowler, from the virtual grad)
In the principal’s address, Ryan Fowler spoke of the grads as “exceptional” students, and noted his own high school graduation took place 20 years ago when Y2K was the impending disaster, when computers were going to break down when the calendar changed from 1999 to 2000.
He explained that Y2K was “the belief that in the world, everything was going to stop working and the world was going to go into chaos. We had no idea how we were going to make it through.”
Today, Fowler wondered how the current grad class might be defined, whether as the pandemic class or the social media class, and suggested instead the word “exceptional” describes them well.
The students are, he said, exceptionally gifted, talented, creative, quiet, mischievious, athletic, motivated, driven, bright, competitive, musical, comedic and silly as “the exceptional Comp grad class of 2020.”
The students “leave WCS as graduates, ready to become exceptional and extraordinary. Our world is different than it was yesterday, or four months ago, four years ago or 20 years ago, and tomorrow it’ll be different again. We are living in exceptional times and you are the exceptional class of 2020.”
The valedictory address was by Brett Bowler, who urged his classmates to face every difficulty and challenge with a view to not be afraid of changes.
He related how he and his family moved to Weyburn in 2011, and on his first day at school in Grade 4 at Haig School, a kid in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey asked him if he liked to play hockey. As it turned out, he was on the same atom team of this boy, who was Hudson Neuberger.
“The purpose of this story is to reveal that this is what the city of Weyburn is all about. Not only does the city have a passion for sports, but also full of tremendously kind and caring people who are willing to help anyone who drives by the sign for the Opportunity City, even if they are Stampeder fans – sorry Rider Nation,” he said.
Bowler noted they had the privilege of walking the halls of WCS for their Grade 9 year, even if some were upset they weren’t able to finish their junior high years at Weyburn Junior High.
“We knew our marks actually mattered now, and faced the reality we were now going to have to study more than 10 minutes the night before exams,” he said.
Of his classmates in the Class of 2020, Bowler said, “I’ve never seen a more caring and supportive group of graduates. We’ve developed friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime.”
He also noted the graduation day would not be possible for the students if it weren’t for their teachers, who “worked extremely hard to make sure we would have the knowledge we need as adults, and they never gave up on us. … Thank you for helping us navigate through these last three years. We couldn’t have done it without you.”
Bowler also had some comments in regard to the circumstances which led to the cancellation of the graduation ceremonies the class should have had.
“I can’t agree with people who say this is a special year for the graduates. It’s unfair, because we’ve worked so hard to get to this moment,” he said, urging his fellow graduates to go celebrate with their families and friends.
“What ever challenge you may face in your adult lives, face them head on and embrace them, because the thing with challenges is they change us, and who really wants to stay the same anyway? They give us a better understanding of who we are as people, as change is what defines us,” said Bowler.