M’CHIGEENG – For the first time in recent memory, the Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) graduating class had its convocation class in the cafetorium. This, MSS teacher Mike Zegil explained during the graduation ceremonies, is because the high school is undergoing major renovations, including ones to the gymnasium, to mark the school’s 50th anniversary in September.
Co-masters of ceremonies for the evening were Yana Bauer and Mr. Zegil.
Mr. Zegil noted that the evening, graduation, was not only a night to celebrate the students but suggested the students to also thank their supports.
Rainbow Board First Nations Trustee Linda Debassige told the students and the audience how honoured she was to be speaking at the convocation night, noting that it was 19 years before that she herself had crossed the stage at MSS. The evening was also special for Trustee Debassige as it marked the graduation of her son Pierre.
“These young people are the future leaders of the community,” Trustee Debassige said, bringing the well-wishes of the seven First Nation communities of Mnidoo Mnising.
Trustee Debassige acknowledged the continued support of the teachers and staff at MSS who all work together to make the students’ education a successful one.
“To them, we give a chi-miigwetch,” she added.
Trustee Debassige recalled her graduation night as one full of nerves, not unlike how she felt that night as trustee.
“I imagine you’re nervous too, as this is a big moment in your lives,” she continued. “When we start growing up, we’re tasked with different choices based on options,” Trustee Debassige added, asking the graduating class to always try and choose the best options, even if they may be hard or challenging. “If you ever need any help, just reach out and ask—people would love to help.”
Manitoulin Trustee Margaret Stringer brought the class and audience greetings on behalf of the Rainbow Board, reminding the class that their teachers and MSS staff all share in this evening too.
“You, the graduates, worked hard, persevered and maintained goals,” Trustee Stringer said. “You will be challenged and may feel like giving up, but don’t give up, ask for help and persevere.”
Trustee Stringer quoted Kyle Lowry, the “heart and soul” of the Toronto Raptors, from an interview with the Globe and Mail. When asked about his long road to glory with the Raptors Mr. Lowry responded, ‘Never listen to people. Never let someone tell you what you are. You’re bigger and better than what you think you are. You going to get to that point, always.’
“Good luck, success and happiness to the Class of 2019,” she concluded.
Principal Mohamed told the Class of 2019 that graduation is more than just a rite of passage.
He spoke of the enormous transformations he has seen in the students since they first set foot in MSS to that night, noting the “impressive leadership skills” he has seen in the students.
“We wish that you find that the skills you’ve learned at MSS will have prepared you for the challenges ahead, and there will be many,” he continued, “as will the critical thinking and communication skills and morals and values that you’ve learned here.”
MSS vice principal Denis Lafleur next introduced the class’s valedictorian, Matthew Redmond.
“Me not knowing a lot about your child is a good thing,” the vice principal joked to the parents, “and in Matthew’s case, I didn’t know much.”
While searching through Matthew’s education history, “it became evident that Matthew was determined to do well and go far.”
Matthew is no stranger to the podium, he noted, rhyming off the young man’s many accomplishments from public school on.
“He’s always had exemplary grades, and he’s also dedicated to athletics,” Vice principal Lafleur added. “He’s funny, reliable and a great guy to be around.”
The following is Matthew’s valedictory address:
“Good evening everyone. Welcome friends, family and teachers to what is the celebration of success for the graduating class of 2019. Well, it’s been quite the ride… Four years ago (for some maybe five) we walked through those big main doors for the first time, not quite knowing what to expect. But it was then that we were given the chance to find out who we are. We’ve experienced adversity along the way, a few bends in the road here and there, but that has only helped to strengthen our character. Most of our trip through high school has actually been decent; we have made friends, joined clubs and played sports. Now here we are, finishing our senior year.
“This year started off with the possibility of deep division, but through all of this we have come together to find unity. Even though all of our journeys have been so unique, we have still managed to maintain the sense of community that makes MSS so special, that makes our Island so special. I’m sure not many schools can say that they are in a place as beautiful as we are, or that they had deer ears on their water fountains. It’s little things like this that have made our time here at MSS so memorable.
“So many of you were there for: countless sporting events, charity hockey games, plays like ‘The Mikado,’ or ‘The Sound of Music’ and supporting our school’s charitable efforts such as the water walk, Relay for Life or Hoops for Heart. We’ve been through a lot together, whether it was a crashed online literacy test or one of Mr. Balfe’s talks on the evils of bread and sugar. (In his defence, he makes a mighty fine soup.) Maybe it’s been the record amount of snow days, or the fact that as were leaving, the school decides to undertake all of these brand new renovations. It is for all of these memories (and many more) that we thank all of you. The students, parents, coaches, teachers, drivers and all of the dedicated volunteers that have made our years at MSS unforgettable.
“Here we are now, celebrating our many years of hard work that have brought us to the beginning of a new point in our lives. It has been this journey that has made us so exceptional. So, when we move forward we are ready to do amazing things given the opportunity, and if that opportunity does not come then we will create our own. We are all Mustangs, after all, when we leave this stage and go out those doors, we will all still be going out into this world together, even if you are an LC big dirty or Patron of the Cabinet… We are all strong-minded individuals and we will go on to do great things. So I say good luck, Class of 2019, it’s been a heck of a time.”
Congratulations to the MSS Class of 2019: Hadeel Alhadi, Trinity Antoine, Benjamin Armstrong, Gerard Armstrong, Trenton Bailey, Connor Bellmore, Caleb Blackbird, Annie Blodgett, Sophie Bondi, Avery Byce, Joe Cassidy, Jacob Clark, Ethan Closs, Quinn Coker, Ethan Corbiere, Gabby Corbiere, Hunter Cranston, Jade Cress, Jordan Cress, Zachary Dearing, Wyatt Dearing, Destiny Debassige, Pierre Debassige, Abby Dewar, Jillian Dickson, Sara Gaudreau, Amanda Gillespie, Lauren Goddard, Rheanna Greco, Parker Hall, Jacob Hallaert, JD Herlehy, Elena Hovingh, Sarah Hovingh, Ryann Hudson, Will Hutchinson, Sage Isaac, Kaitlyn Ketley, Janessa Lee, Trinity Leeson, Aaron Lewis, Alexis Lewis, Jayden Little, Lilianna MacDonald, Connor Mack, Brianna Manion, Jenelle Manitowabi, Brodie McAllister, Brianna McCauley, Nyah McDowell, Reegan McGauley, Ethan Mejaki, Maylen Moffatt, Ferlin Negannegijig, Maddie Niven, Sean Orford, Courtnee Osawabine, Tyson Otosquaiob, Zachary Paul, Matthew Redmond, Douglas Robinson, Joshua Robinson, Jeremiah Sagon, Emily Savage, Ethan Smith, Faith Taylor, John Tolsma, April Torkopoulos, AJ Van Kesteren, Eric Varey, Destini-Rose Wabegijik, Jalen Waindubence, Jary White, CJ Wilson, Beth Wiwchar, Hannah Woestenenk, Camryn Wood, Elizabeth Wood, Robert Brasil and Joshua Desbiens.