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Grads march off to the future

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It was a very quotable graduation ceremony for the class of 1998 as about 170 Fort Frances High School students received their diplomas last Wednesday night at Memorial Arena.

FFHS principal Terry Ellwood began the ceremony by giving advice to the graduates from Robert Fulgham’s “All I needed to know I learned in kindergarten.”

“Share everything,” he recited. “Play fair, and don’t hit people. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush.

“Think of what a better world it would be if we all had warm cookies and milk at 3 o’clock, then lay down with blankies for a nap,” he added.

Ellwood also told the graduates that many of their teachers, who collectively have taught for 250 years, would be leaving Fort High with them

“Would you please rise with me and wish them all the best,” he said, which was followed by a standing ovation of students and parents alike.

Not to be outdone in the quoting department, Student Executive Council president Jordan Roy laced his address with snippets from “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss.

“Today is your day,” Jordan said. “You’re off to great places. You’re off on your way.”

Roy said he and his fellow graduates learned many things during their stint in high school (in addition to the hygienic importance of chewing gum and deodorant). He also said the students have learned from each other.

He gave special mention to his vice-president, John Cox, for helping him on the SEC, and extended best wishes to next year’s president, Ria Cuthbertson.

But most of Roy’s speech was addressed to his fellow graduates, encouraging them to strive far and know enough to enjoy the happiness of their lives.

“Whatever it is you do, aim high and never settle for less,” he challenged them. “This is it. We’re here. How the heck did we do it?”

“The step we take today is like the ones before, except a bit bigger,” noted Valedictorian Colin Wielinga. “Remember this one very, very important thing--colour co-ordination is a virtue.”

Wielinga’s address seemed to sum up the high school experience, drawing on nostalgic memories of this person and that.

“We all look at the ninth-graders now and say we were never like that but we probably were,” he recalled. “Looking from grade nine to today, we can be proud of our accomplishments.

“You wanted this,” Wielinga remarked, referring to their diplomas. “You set out to get this and you get it. And doesn’t it feel great?”

Wielinga commented on how the other speakers all drew on inspirational quotes from various authors. He said he didn’t have any author to quote although he did pass on a few words of wisdom from his father.

“There’s no one stopping you from who you are and who you want to be. That’s what inspires me,” he said. “Thanks, Dad.”

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