M’CHIGEENG—Once again, the Manitoulin Secondary School gymnasium was filled to the brim with excited parents, family and friends eagerly awaiting their particular high school graduate to walk in the processional replete in cap and gown, marking the end of a journey and the beginning of a new adventure.
Teachers Willa Wilson and Mike Zegil acted as masters of ceremonies for the night.
“Grad night is always exciting,” Mr. Zegil began. “A time to be joyful…and maybe a little relieved,” he joked.
Rainbow District School Board Manitoulin trustee Larry Killens addressed the class of 2017, saying in part, “If you will allow, I wish to extend praises and congratulations to those who walked and were beside you all the way in your nine years plus journey to get here. They have shared your failures, your successes, your bad days and good days each step of the way. They are with you even today to continue that commitment to you without limitations. Yes, I speak of your teachers, but just as important, and who are equally as happy and look to you who more so as the centre of their universe: your family, friends and guardians. They are no less happier than you are and rejoice on your reason for being here.”
“Always stay in a learning mode,” Trustee Killens urged. “I can promise you numerous successes but also I promise you failures. To learn, you must look to the failures and learn from them, turn them to your advantage. For without failures you cannot learn; you need failures.”
“Most important, please be good to yourself and always take time for yourself and always find time for pleasure for yourself with your friends,” Trustee Killens told the graduates.
MSS Principal Jamie Mohamed told the graduates how lovely they looked on their big day. “And this would be the one time I will not ask you to remove your hats,” he laughed.
“You’ve achieved so much,” the principal said. “Think about the many hurdles you’ve soared over; so many choices to make with such a significant bearing on your future.”
He urged the graduates to think back to Grade 9 and the many social and emotional stressors, on top of studies, the students faced. “For some, it seemed like an insurmountable task, but yet you’re here—congratulations on your achievements.”
The drum group Nimkee then gave an honour song for the graduates.
Before the students received their diplomas, Mr. Zegil urged them to take the time to reflect on their time at MSS as they crossed the floor.
Once the diplomas were dutifully received, Mr. Zegil introduced the class of 2017 valedictorian (and Expositor Player Profile author) Yohana Ogbamichael, highlighting the kind, generous and smart student that she was throughout her time at MSS.
Yohana’s valedictory address follows here:
“Hello and welcome parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and family, teachers and administration of Manitoulin Secondary School. Welcome to the 2017 graduation ceremony.
Did you know that in the year 2013, which happens to be the year that we entered high school, a new word was added to the Oxford Dictionary. This word is ‘selfie.’ So as you all clap, cheer and congratulate us on our great accomplishment, the class of 2017 will show you that we can take the best group selfies of all time! (Yohana then proceeded to take out a selfie stick and take a selfie with her classmates to much laughter from the audience.)
“It truly feels like it was only yesterday that we walked through the main entrance of Manitoulin Secondary School on our first day of high school. We walked quickly and awkwardly as all of the teachers of MSS stood side by side, welcoming us to our new home for the next four years.
“I am so honoured to have been chosen to represent my graduating class. I would like to begin by inviting everyone to join me in congratulating this amazing group of students. Your hard work brought you here and we all have so much to be proud of. Now, on behalf of our graduating class, and also the current, future and past students of MSS, I would like to thank our wonderful teachers and staff. Thank you, Mrs. Zahnow, who was our principal in high school for most of our journey and thank you Mr. Mohamed; you were my principal at my graduation from Little Current Public School four years ago and now you are here to celebrate our high school graduation. Thank you all for never giving up on us, supporting us and entertaining us. We often take you for granted but I would like to say that your hard work does not go unnoticed and we greatly appreciate it.
“Now everyone, sit back and relax as I take you on our journey through high school.
“The transition from elementary school into high school was an interesting one. For so many years we knew many of the students from the other public schools as our competitors on school sports teams, Island soccer or house league hockey. Now in high school we became friends. We all represent Manitoulin Island together. FLY and the Grade 9 barbeque were both fun and awkward. Our group leaders from the upper grades gave us some great advice like, “don’t use the cafe trays because you just don’t do that” or “make sure that you don’t sit anywhere near the stage during lunch because that is reserved for the Grade 12s.” This advice was great; it was crucial in preparing us to succeed in high school. For me personally, grade nine was a great year because I tried my best to get involved in the various sports and extracurricular activities. I connected with some of my now lifelong friends from being on sports teams and clubs.
“Manitoulin Secondary School offers so many wonderful activities which appeal to our diverse interests. To be quite honest, I only came to truly appreciate how much our school has to offer and how much we have accomplished as I was writing this speech.
“Our graduating class has accomplished so much and we have represented Manitoulin Island very well through the participation of athletic and artistic events. This year, the MSS senior boys’ volleyball team qualified and went to OFSAA, the Ontario provincial competition. They competed against the best of the best across our province and they represented MSS extremely well. The gymnastics sport aerobics team has also made it to OFSAA. Just last year, the team placed first at the provincial level. These are only a few of the great things that we have accomplished.
“Not only does our school have such a strong athletic program but we thrive in arts, technology and travel. There is the annual band trip, the Stratford trip and, during the March Break of 2016, a group of students at our school even went to Greece and Italy.
“Although not all of us were a part of a school sports team or club, we have all been influenced by them. We enjoyed cheering on our basketball and volleyball teams during pep rallies, we looked forward to cultural feasts and the pow wow organized by Three Fires, enjoyed watching the talent show put on by students’ council, took pride in our school’s musical productions. We admired the beautiful artwork that students created for Artistic Fusion and so much more.
“To me, what makes our graduating class so special is that we all truly support and encourage one another. Living on Manitoulin has taught me the true definition of community and support. Many great things have happened throughout these four years but also we have experienced many challenges and losses. The thing that I love most about the Island is how well we come together to support each other during the good times and the bad. We host the best high school hockey games in Northern Ontario and we have the support of our wonderful community during benefit hockey games to help fellow students at our school. We participate in food and clothing drives which goes directly to people in need in our community. Also, just recently, we hosted the Relay for Life event which with the support of our community, we raised over $38,000. Not only do we support our own community but our SHARE/GO GREEN committee and students of MSS raised enough money to build a school in Haiti and help a community in Kenya. We demonstrate that living in small communities and attending a school with less than 500 students does not stop us from doing great things and impacting the lives of people all over the world.
“Graduates, I encourage you all to reflect on the your own personal journey through high school. Cherish all of the memories. Remember the countless times we spent walking around the halls during winter lunches because there was nothing else to do. Remember how hard you worked on your culminating projects, and I’m sure that none of us will ever forget the song ‘Country Roads,’ the Garret edition, because he would sing it all of the time in the cafe. Remember all of these moments because they are what make you who you are. We made it to graduation, and we will make it through so much more in life. So learn from your mistakes and enjoy doing the things that you love. I look forward to what the future has planned for us. I wish you all the best. And if times get tough, you have family who will always be by your side, a community that will support you, and of course…friends who will encourage you for the rest of your life.
“Thank you everyone and especially to the graduating class of 2017,” Yohana concluded.
The Manitoulin Secondary School Class of 2017 is: Hunter Abotossaway, Tyler Argue, Chance Auxier, Eden Beaudin, Tyrone Beaudin, Matthew Bebonang, Storm Beboning, Noah Belanger, Nikita Bond, Trenton Bond, Alyssa Burnett, Brianna Burnett, Brianna Callaghan, Cole Campbell, Dawson Campbell, Michelle Campbell, Braedan Case, Jackie Cooper, Jill Cooper, Max Cooper, Cole Corbiere, Nicholas Corbiere, Zabrina Cosby, Christine Cranston, Zack Cress, Cassandra Cristo, Brandon Croft, Skyler Danville, Treena Debasssige, Ian Debruin, Jordanna Dedman, Bailie Desroches, Parker Dickinson, Dillon Dickson, Greg Doane, Apryl Eadie, Jeromy Elliott, Tyler Ense-Wabanose, Lacey Fownes, Emily Francis, Garret Gauthier, Devin Gelaznikas, Austin Glover, Kayla Greenman, Billy Hallaert, Shelby Hester, Nathan Howard, Tyler Hughson, Hanna Hutchinson, Jillian Kaboni, Syrena Kaiser-Fox, Brynn Kiley, Adrianne Leblanc, Hailey Leblanc, Dakota Legge, Makenna Lentir, Logan Lewis, William Lindner, Rebecca Macdonald, Gerrit Mack, Darius Madahbee, Jessica Marshall, Bryce Mastelko, Alanna Mcfadden, Kaelyn Moor, Noah Moreau, Christopher Nichols, Scarlett Noel , Yohana Ogbamichael, Matthew Oliver, Kaelen Peltier, Seth Peltier, Caleja Peltier-Rivers, Mason Pine, Jordan Pitawanakwat, Devin Puska, Serena Recollet, Kristina Renwick, Adam Robinson, Jared Robinson, Lauren Rohn, Roxanna Rojas-Brizuela, Nea Saunders, Alex Smith, Andrew Taliotis, Kyle Temple, Terek Tolsma, Evan Torkopoulos, Tim Van Volkingburgh, Tait Wallace, Savanna Webb, Finlay Wilson, Nathaniel Wood and Trent Wright.