It’s been 10 years since Karina Pelayo stepped up to the microphone with classmate Maegan Huber to give their valedictorian address during commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2011, held in Barriere, B.C., on May 27.
“We stand before you now as young adults, but in our hearts we are still the children you all remember, just with more style, more patience, and after 13 years of schooling, we should hope at least a little more knowledge,” said the valedictorians. “We have put on our caps and gowns and done everything required of us to get to this point in our lives. And now this day has finally come, and we stand here with all the friends we have made over the years…we look out at our families and deep down we know that this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
“Soon we have to say goodbye…to our school, our town and our friends. We know that we can come back to visit, but there will be strangers in our halls and it just won’t be the same. It’s different. We are different. But it’s not the end. In fact, our new chapter is just beginning.”
With graduation behind her, Pelayo then moved on to attending Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C. Her next move was to Alberta, where she spent seven years in Edmonton and Calgary, working in the hospitality management industry by day, and was a full-time musician by night.
Pelayo’s love of music has always been a part of her life, just like it was for her family. While in the North Thompson, the family generously shared their talent and joy of music many times over the years with the residents of the valley, singing and playing the violin and the piano.
“Of all the things I learned as a student at Barriere Secondary School (BSS), the most important was that I had to create my own opportunities,” said Pelayo in a recent interview with the Star/Journal. “During my time at BSS, there was no music program. But I still did my best to bring my love for music into my student life.
“From conducting an elementary school choir, to recording the elementary school ROAR anthem, to playing the piano for ‘The Last Post’ at Remembrance Day assemblies, it seemed that music would be the legacy I would leave behind after graduation.”
Pelayo has always shared her love of music with others, even while participating as a volunteer in humanitarianism projects to build schools and a water system for children in Ecuador. The music was always in her heart.
She said that while the 10-year anniversary of the BSS Graduating Class of 2011 has arrived, there is disappointment as the current pandemic makes holding a reunion impossible. However, Pelayo would not be deterred from marking the anniversary.
“In lieu of a high school reunion, I decided to donate my childhood Yamaha upright piano to the Barriere Secondary as my 10-year gift,” said Pelayo. “My hope is that one day, when the high school has a music program, that this piano will be put to good use for students with an aptitude for music.”
As a result, on the weekend of March 6, Pelayo returned to Barriere to personally deliver her Yamaha piano to the high school as her 10-year graduation gift.
“It was incredibly nostalgic to roam the high school hallways again,” she said. “My fiancee and my sister Kimberly’s husband were with me and they had a chance to see a bit of our history in pictures at the school. It was quite enjoyable for them.”
Pelayo became engaged on Feb. 13, 2021, and is now living in Vancouver with her fiancee and their two dogs. She is the Director of Business Operations for Superprem Industries / PEARL Canada, coordinating their sales, marketing, customer experience and PR departments.