M’CHIGEENG—It was a night of selfies, laughs and a few tears at the Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) 2014 graduation last Wednesday night.
The school gym was packed with graduates, their families, community members, MSS staff and special guests including Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) trustees Larry Killens, Grace Fox and Chair Doreen Dewar, Director of Education Norm Blaseg and Superintendent of Schools Bruce Bourget.
Following the processional, led by the colour guard featuring members of Manitoulin’s polices forces, graduating student Dione Gordon, accompanied by teacher Chris Theijsmeijer, led the audience in the singing of O’Canada.
MSS faculty members Willa Wilson and Mike Zegil gave the welcoming address before introducing RDSB Chair Board Doreen Dewar who gave greetings from the board.
Ms. Dewar told the story of a butterfly who was helped by a man to emerge from its chrysalis. She explained that by helping the butterfly instead of letting it struggle and emerge on its own, he unknowingly damaged it.
“Manitoulin graduates are like that butterfly; they had to sometimes struggle to reach their potential,” said Ms. Dewar. “Now the time has come for another change and like all change there is a degree of uncertainty, but it is also a chance for adventure and jobs. Remember, graduates, as you face each new obstacle, treat it as a learning experience that will continue to help you grow.”
Trustees Larry Killens and Grace Fox also said a few words to the graduates.
“Today signals the beginning of many new adventures,” said Ms. Fox, “as you and your families reflect on all your hard work and the excitement of the future. Whatever direction you go, take time to appreciate the hard work and support of your family. Education is a stepping stone—use it wisely to help build a better road and remember that it is not the destination, but the journey that is important.”
Mr. Killens thanked the colour guard for their presentation and pointed out how wonderful it was that members of the RDSB administration were present as there was also other three graduations taking place in Sudbury, but that they had chosen to be at MSS.
“If you look at Manitoulin on a map, MSS would be at the centre of the Island and it is the centre of the universe for everyone here and graduates, you are the centre of the universe of everyone here tonight,” said Mr. Killens. “Don’t forget to make time for yourself in whatever your future endeavors are.”
MSS Principal Laurie Zahnow reflected on expectations during her address.
“I think that it is true to say that we all have our expectations,” said Ms. Zahnow. “It is true to say that some days we exceed our expectations, and today is one of those days.”
“You’d have thought that we would have gotten used to graduations by now,” she continued. “The fact is that everyone is different and every one of you means something different to us. Today is unique and special to us all and we are here tonight filled with immense pride for you and your accomplishments.”
“Graduates, my message to you today is never to let fears, or fear of failure, rule your lives,” she added. “Expect the best from yourselves and you will not be disappointed. Never begin by thinking that you will be unable to do something. Do not let the fear of failure prevent you from working towards your dreams or goals. We are all afraid at times, and we all fail at times. This is precisely why we face our fear and expect to succeed.”
After Ms. Zahnow’s address, Manitoulin’s Sitting Bear Drum Group performed an honour song for the graduates.
Principal Zahnow, Superintendent Bourget, Vice Principal Yana Bauer and Director Blaseg presented the 2014 MSS graduates with their Ontario Secondary School Diplomas.
Ms. Bauer introduced Valedictorian Harrison Noble, noting that the graduating class was characterized by their “intensity” and that Mr. Noble exemplified this characteristic.
Mr. Noble’s speech included a lot of inside jokes with the graduation class and had the whole audience laughing from his stunts which included taking a break from his speech to take a ‘selfie,’ encouraging graduates to show their enthusiasm however they saw fit, and reflecting on how life always gets better each day, giving the example of when he had a smoothie in one hand and a blizzard in the other at Dairy Queen and spotted the display of dessert pizzas.
The closing remarks were given by Ms. Wilson and Mr. Zegil followed by the graduates throwing up their caps in celebration before the recessional, concluding the ceremony.