GFSS grads find comfort in solidarity

‘I think there is a bit of comfort in knowing that we all don’t know together’

Grand Forks Secondary grads were sent off with a party on Saturday when hundreds of family and friends filled Jack Goddard Memorial Arena to celebrate with the students.

What can be a solemn affair for some schools was kicked off with a dancing honour guard formed by the students’ teachers, shaking hands and hugging their pupils as the Grade 12s made their way to the stage.

“They have led our school this past year with kindness,” said principal Brian Foy, praising the class’s smarts, generosity, athleticism and humour. “They have modelled brilliantly what it is to be a wolf at GFSS. On behalf of students and staff, we thank you.”

The grads themselves also showed humility as presenters ran out of breath time and time again to read out the awards and future plans of each student as they crossed the stage to receive their diploma — something that teacher Roman Wyllie insisted was not something to be taken for granted.

“Repeat after me,” Wyllie said. “I don’t deserve this.” Laughing followed.

Wyllie went on to talk about how when he received his undergraduate degree, he felt entitled to the world, as if the paper in his hands meant that he was owed something. The reality of the job hunt showed him otherwise. Instead, Wyllie said, the paper represented something that the students had accomplished but not something that they deserved, but something that they earned through hard work.

Looking forward, one of the valedictorians, Adam Cheverie, repeated the same idea: that opportunity won’t blatantly reveal itself.

”It won’t come shouting in your face: ‘This is who you are! This is what you will be!’ But rather, it’s something that creeps up from behind and whispers in your ear when you least expect it.

I challenge you to not only listen to the whispers, but act on them.”

Speaking after Cheverie, valedictorian Haley Lockhart suggested that listening to each other might help in the future too.

“I believe that we all make each other feel confident to speak our minds without fear of being put down,” she said. “The class I viewed as outspoken, confident and passionate about change is what our grad class will be remembered for.

“It’s probably going to be difficult at first and there will be so many new things for us to learn but honestly […] none of us actually know yet. But I think there is a bit of comfort in knowing that we all don’t know together.”


Grads are greeted to the arena floor by an honour guard of teachers and administrators who have seen the students grow over their school careers. (Peter Kalasz/Submitted)

Winners of scholarships from the City of Grand Forks pose with the city’s corporate officer, Daniel Drexler. (Peter Kalasz/Submitted)

School District 51 administrator Shawn Lockhart takes a walk down memory lane to recall the roller rink that once occupied the place where GFSS grads received their diplomas on Saturday. (Peter Kalasz/Submitted)

Valedictorians Adam Cheverie, left, and Haley Lockhart, right, share a hug between speeches. (Peter Kalasz/Submitted)

Shawn Lockhart, the current principal at Christina Lake Elementary and Big White Community School, teaches the GFSS grads how to sway with lighters in-hand to Lynard Skynard’s “Free bird.” (Peter Kalasz/Submitted)

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