It certainly was a celebration of achievement for the Clearwater Secondary School grads of 2011. On the evening of June 3 the gymnasium at CSS was packed with parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, and numerous well-wishers. The flash of cameras was at times blinding.
The master of ceremonies, vice-principal Peter Persad, started off the evening by introducing the official party. They were led into the gym by a red-uniformed RCMP officer.
Everyone stood for the singing of O’ Canada before the principal of CSS, Alan Stel, welcomed everyone to the ceremonies and congratulated the graduates, wishing them every success in the future.
Mayor John Harwood spoke on behalf of School District 73 and the District of Clearwater. “We’re very proud of our students; they’re to be praised for the work they’ve done.”
He then reminded the graduates that no matter where they go or what they do, “There’s something more important than silver and gold and that’s your good name and your integrity. Be true to yourself.”
Dr. Terry Sullivan, superintendent of School District 73, reminded everyone, “… success does not occur in isolation. These students are here tonight because of the support they’ve received from their parents, teachers, and others involved in their lives.” And the support for these young people was certainly evident in the gym that evening.
Guest speaker Mrs. Elizabeth Toman (who prefers to be known as Libby) recounted how she and her husband found their way to Clearwater some 30 years ago and decided to stay. She offered some advice for the graduates. “Find your place, find your passion, work hard at anything you do, don’t fear failure.” She ended by saying, “You’re lucky to come from this place that took me the first 27 years of my life to find.” Libby Toman is retiring this year “… after 49 years in school as a student and as a teacher.”
The presentation of scholarships, bursaries and awards was impressive due to the number of awards presented and their value. This further attested to the support these young people received from their community.
The class valedictorians, Jonah Timms and Clara Shipp, brought a touch of humor to the evening. Jonah, addressing the parents of the graduates, “Thank you for not abandoning us in the hospital.” Clara reminisced about the years spent together in school, as most of the graduates have been in classes together since Kindergarten. And as they go out into the world, Clara reminded them, “Man did not discover new oceans unless he had the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
– by Helen Stec