On Friday, May 31, the Peter Skene Ogden (PSO) Secondary School graduating class of 2019 tossed their caps and received their diplomas at the South Cariboo Recreation Centre (SCRC).
The SCRC was particularly warm on Friday afternoon, and many audience members and graduates alike used the ceremony programs to keep cool by fanning themselves. The ceremony began at 6:30 p.m. with an audience full of the graduates’ family, friends, and community members.
Geoff Butcher, PSO’s principal, served as master of ceremonies. Chief Helen Henderson offered official greetings and a special welcome following the grads’ processional.
Henderson welcomed those gathered on Secwepemculew, the traditional territory of the Secwepemc people. She offered messages of courage and strength for the grad class and concluded with a wish that the students “travel well”.
Harjinder Manhas, assistant superintendent of schools, also offered a few words of encouragement and congratulations to the graduates, along with Willow MacDonald, chair of School District No. 27’s board of education for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.
Manhas suggested that graduates work to attain the right balance between work and home life as they set off post-graduation. He encouraged them to maintain “principles of integrity and self-respect”.
MacDonald had but one wish for the graduates: that they will be happy.
Finally, Mayor Mitch Campsall took the stage to share tips on how the graduates can succeed in their future endeavours. He suggested they venture forth with the determination to work hard.
Next, Butcher presented half of this year’s graduates with their diploma before Doug Brown, vice-principal, took over to present the remaining diplomas to the 2019 graduates.
Some students wore different coloured sashes over their graduation gowns. The yellow sashes signified this year’s valedictorians, while blue sashes signified the French immersion students who received a Dual Dogwood Certificate. The white sashes indicated students with First Nations ancestry.
After the receipt of diplomas, graduate Kayleigh Jacobson performed the song “Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift with piano accompaniment from Jasmine Kreschuk.
Hannah Valihora and Nolan Buchi were the valedictorians this year. Together, the two young people delivered a speech to their fellow graduates and all those in attendance. Buchi noted how the grads began high-school during the 2014 teacher’s strike and did not receive an official orientation. He said that the group of graduates began their high-school journey as procrastinators and not much has changed since. With a laugh, Buchi shared that he and his partner Valihora had come up with their valedictorian speech just three days earlier.
Nonetheless, the pair kept their audience entertained with a well thought-out message and also thanked all the staff members and adults who have helped them on their journey to graduation.
“Thank you for our education,” said Valihora. “Here we stand at the cusp of infinite possibility.”
Valihora described her graduating class as the same “young, shy Grade 8s of 2014.”
Valihora and Buchi each presented Ganesa Wiens and Natalie Sass with flowers for their shared commitment to the 2019 Grad Committee. The students would also like to thank Veronika Martin for her help.
To conclude the evening’s events, Manhas returned to the stage to present the candidates for the Governor General’s Academic Medal, which is awarded to the graduating student with the highest grade point average. The candidates for this year’s medal are Cameron Ardiel, Olivia Gulliman, Supreeta Ranchod, Cory Mapson, and Hayden Sass.
Candidacy is calculated based on students’ Grade 11 and 12, but the official medal winner will not be announced until sometime in July, said Manhas.
Congratulations to the class of 2019!