The Ice For Kids Arena was packed last Thursday evening to commemorate the final farewell for another group of Fort Frances High School students.
Proud parents played paparazzi, students donned bright purple robes and caps, while educators sat in thought about their students who have grown over the past four years.
After a musical introduction by the FFHS band, principal Peg Keffer took the stage to address the students.
“Tonight, as each of you cross this stage, shake our hands, hear our congratulations . . . we want you to leave this evening knowing there is an expectation to go and make a difference,” she remarked.
Keffer touched on the many motivational speakers who had visited Fort High this year and reminded the students of the things they said.
“Joseph Boyden said ask yourself, ‘Who is driving your car? Are you driving your car or are you in the passenger seat letting someone else drive it for you?’
“This is a good question to reflect on this evening and this will become more clear to you, as a choice, after graduation,” Keffer noted.
Halfway through the distribution of diplomas, a powerful vocal performance of “The Reason” by Hoobastank was covered by Andrew Eldridge.
Special award recipients included Kevin Metke (Leading Student Award), Chelsey Skirten and Cole Turcotte (gold clocks), Jonah Brow (Lenora Colvin Memorial Award), and Reece Jones (Governor General’s Medal).
After all the diplomas and awards were presented, Carter Brown delivered the valedictorian speech.
Before he even got to the podium, Brown had the crowd roaring with a comedic entrance as he danced up the steps and onto the stage to a Jimmy Fallon original of “Tight pants.”
Brown’s speech kept everyone smiling—generating laughter throughout.
He even made light of the fact that he did not know how to pronounce his own title.
“After I was announced [as] valedictorian, I went around telling my friends and family I was ‘valedvictorian,’” Brown explained.
“I was later notified by Kiera Kowalski’s tweet on Twitter: ‘Maybe Carter Brown should learn how to pronounce valedictorian before he actually becomes valedictorian.’
“Thank you, Kiera Kowalski.”
Brown acknowledged his parents, joking about how he knows they have been patiently waiting to transform their child’s room into a “home office or storage space” once he moved out.
He also thanked teachers like Mr. Roen for “his artistic mind in science but his beautifully-shaped mustache, which seemingly represents that old-school feel,” remarking with a one-liner of, “God, what a ’stache!”
The speech was concluded on a more serious note, when Brown reflected on the past four years while speaking to struggles, successes, and cherished memories.
“We will always remember the moments we had together, things that we shared that will never grow old, memories that will never fade, and friends that will last a lifetime,” he said.
After the ceremony, Brown said he tried to incorporate moments from every graduating student into the speech.
“I went around asking some of the students at the school from different organizations and groups to get their opinion on possibly what they wanted me to put in it and just kind of put everyone’s ideas into one,” he explained.
Fellow grad Maddyson McKay said she thought Brown did a great job summarizing the last four years.
“He did a good job . . . he covered a lot of bases and got a lot more information than most people would by getting everyone’s points of views,” she noted.
“It touched on the good points and the bad points and our history, and what we went through and memories for us,” McKay added.
“I thought it was funny . . . I loved how he even mentioned teachers.”
Although relieved his speech was well-received by his peers, Brown said it’s just starting to sink in that high school is over.
“It’s kind of surreal,” he admitted. “I’m nervous and excited to be done high school.
“It’s the unknown so we’ll see what happens.”