Close to 100 Peter Skene Ogden grads marked the end of high school Saturday with a parade down Birch Avenue in hotrods, trucks and even a horse.
Dozens of friends and family cheered them on as they headed to Centennial Park for a social mixer and photographs. The grad class numbered 108 this year, but only 98 took part in the parade and the subsequent dry grad, according to dry grad committee chair Jim Carter.
“Seeing them here all together in one spot is just a really cool experience,” said Junaya Nielsen, 17, who was named co-valedictorian with Ryan Vincenz.
Vincenz, who plans to study dentistry, said he is looking forward to getting out into the wider world and experiencing life beyond 100 Mile House. He intends to spend eight years at school and four years in the military and “then I’ll be back.”
“It’s a new adventure to take on,” Vincenz said.
Grad Colin Ross said it was “awesome” to participate in the parade. He and his friends made the moment extra special by donning helmets from Star Wars.
“We’re just the biggest Star Wars fans,” said Ross, who has a collection of helmets. “I thought wearing the helmets with the suits would look really good. You feel imposing and you feel like a badass.”
Bruce Stustrud, whose grandson Nolan was a graduate this year, said it was great to see the return of the traditional parade. During the pandemic, the grads celebrated in a reverse parade,which meant they stood on the streets while people drove past them.
“Everybody wanted to see this, we’ve been missing it and the arena was filled right to the bones (at the graduation ceremony) so that was really super,” Stustrud said.
Nielsen, who plans to become an RCMP officer like her father Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen, said she is optimistic about the future. Both she and Vincenz tried to keep a light-hearted tone when delivering their speech to the class.
“I say, pick something you love and dedicate yourself to it. Just put your all into it, don’t second guess yourself and don’t let other people influence your decision,” Nielsen said. “Dedicate yourself to it and you’ll succeed.”