Last September, it seemed graduation day for OJSH Grade 12 students was still a far off dream with lots of time to determine courses, work on assignments, socialize with friends and enjoy being the senior class of high school. However, as is the case, the year flew by as courses, assignments, projects, studying, sports and other extra-curricular activities and, most importantly, final exams consumed students’ time.
On June 28th, graduation for the Class of 2019 became a reality. The graduation ceremony for 80 eager and excited yet nervous graduates took place in the gymnasium at 2:30 p.m.
Grad day at OJSH began at noon when beautiful girls and handsome boys, dressed in their finest formal wear, gathered in the gymnasium to have a group photo taken. Then it was a rush to dressing rooms to quickly change into the grad cap and gowns. Staff members were on hand to assist our graduates so that they made it in time for the formal group portrait – this is the photo that will eventually hang on our school walls. Once the formal picture taking was complete, it was time for the ceremony. As in the past, the ceremony was live-streamed on the school’s web site.
Principal Lobo conducted the ceremony as proud parents and siblings, relatives, community members and honoured guests watched the proceedings. Mr. Lobo gave his opening address after the Grad 2019 procession and after OJSH staff members Ms. Karla Schmidt Peterson, Mr.VanCamp, Mr. Siemens, Mr. Eastman and Mr. Huxley led the audience in “O Canada”. It was then the time for dignitaries to give greetings and special messages to the grad class.
Dane Lloyd, MP for Sturgeon River-Parkland, delivered a well-spoken message to the grads once again this year. Next, MLA for Lac Se. Anne- Parkland Shane Getson spoke to the graduating class, expressing his best wishes on behalf of the Government of Alberta. The grads were honoured to have Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation speak next. Mr. Alexis is an eloquent speaker whose words are always significant and well expressed.
After Chief Alexis, Trustee Christine Peck brought greetings from Northern Gateway Public School Board. Next to bring a special message to the Class of 2019 was Councillor George Vaughan from Lac Ste. Anne County. Mayor Judy Tracy spoke to the class on behalf of the Town of Onoway. Laura Harrison spoke on behalf of the OJSH School Council and the Superintendent’s message of congratulations was brought to the grads by Deputy Superintendent of NGPS Michelle Brennick.
As a tribute to the graduating class, the students were saluted with an Honour Song performed by the Logan Alexis Singers. Valedictorian Ashley Davis then spoke on behalf of the graduating class, her address expressing how meaningful this special day was for her and for each and every OJSH graduate.
The ceremony continued as the graduates were introduced by teacher Mrs. Ellie Anderson and by retiring teacher Mr. Renato Chiumento. Each student was called onto the stage individually to receive their diploma and a handshake from Mr. Lobo. In a special tribute to the graduates’ success, those who were First Nations also received an eagle feather from OJSH Native Counsellor Tracey Noyes. The eagle feathers had been blessed by an Elder, Francis Alexis in a ceremony several days prior to the ceremony. Those graduating students of Metis heritage received a special Metis sash from Counsellor Dean Bellerose.
After Mr. Lobo gave his closing remarks, there was the Grad 2019 Recession with special songs chosen by the students. This was the time for family hugs and photos, a change out of the grad gowns into formal wear before going off to the arena for the banquet and an evening filled with family, friends, laughter, some tears, and a sense of joy and accomplishment.
The staff at OJSH wish this year’s graduating class safe journeys and a wonderful future.
Go to the onowayhigh.ca website to view a special Grad 2019 Newsletter edition that has photos of the grads and a copy of Ashley’s Valedictory address.