For Summerland Secondary School’s class of 2020, graduation has been a time to celebrate achievements during a time of adversity.
The 110 Grade 12 students have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in numerous closures beginning in March of this year.
And instead of a traditional graduation ceremony, the school had a number of mini-ceremonies in June. A complete video, with speeches and the presentation of diplomas and awards, has been linked to this story.
Trevor Robinson, vice-principal of the high school, spoke of the importance of planning and preparation, especially during times of uncertainty.
“Within our challenges can lie opportunities,” he said.
“I am confident that you are well prepared for the world to come. All you have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given you.”
Olympic bobsleigh athlete Justin Kripps, who graduated from Summerland Secondary School in 2004, urged the students to take time to consider their future.
“At this point in your life, time is on your side,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity. The world has literally stopped spinning. The treadmill has stopped. You can step off and just look around and decide what it is you want to do in the future.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a video speech, also presented a message to the graduating students.
“Even if today is different than you had planned, I want you to know that this moment is still very special, because nothing can take away the hard work it took to get here — not even a global pandemic,” he said.
“Class of 2020, this is still your year to shine…. You have the power to change Canada and the world for the better.”
Valedictorians Paige Russill and Koen Buckingham talked about their experiences during their years of schooling.
At the end of 2019, the students were excited about the possibilities of the new year.
“We counted down at New Year’s, prepared to rock 2020’s world,” Buckingham said. “As spring break arrived, so did the ultimate adversary. But our class was prepared.”
“This year was most definitely one the world and ourselves will not soon forget. With our adversities, we have built resilience,” Russill said.
The Verrier Award, the highest honour given by the high school, went to Devyn Slade.
In addition to a strong academic performance, Slade has been involved in dance and theatre, spending many hours with school productions. Earlier this year, she was the recipient of the Youth Leadership Award, presented at the Summerland Chamber of Commerce’s Business and Community Excellence Awards.
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