Rainy River High School students celebrated their graduation last Wednesday evening with a ceremony taking place in the school's gym.
The RRHS band kicked it off with a procession and performance of “O Canada.”
RRDSB trustee Dianne McCormack and RRHS principal Michelle Mosbeck shared their remarks with the “Class of 2018” before the individual academic proficiency awards were distributed.
They went to Michawla Jolicouer (Grade 9), Hayden Haw (Grade 10), Amy Dyck (Grade 11), and valedictorian Madison Whetzel (Grade 12).
Whetzel also received proficiency awards in Grade 12 University English and Grade 12 University Science.
Fellow graduate Mariah Lauzon was the recipient of the Grade 12 College English and Grade 12 College Science proficiency awards.
Other recipients included Anthony Venables (Grade 12 Workplace English), Gethon Wood (Grade 12 Workplace Math), Jasmine Holmes (Grade 12 College Math), and Deejay Trenchard (Grade 12 University Math).
Following the distribution of awards, the graduates received their diplomas, Ontario Scholars, and bursaries.
Whetzel then took the stage to deliver her valedictory address.
“Today is a day to be proud of ourselves," she said. "It is not a day to stress over but rather to fully take in that we are now high school graduates.”
Whetzel acknowledged that graduating for some may mean attending a post-secondary school while for others, it could mean taking a year off to work or do other things.
She said while some people have discovered their passion and know what they want to do, there's a lot of graduates who aren't 100 percent sure of what their future holds.
“Everyone goes at their own pace and that's okay," Whetzel assured. ”Today can just be about the fact we made it here.
“Apparently it takes a lot of work to graduate high school,” she added.
“So the fact that we were able to push through and do it is actually pretty incredible.”
Whetzel closed by reminding her fellow graduates that it's okay to figure things out at their own pace and their overall health is more important than good grades.
She then wished the “Class of 2018” well and congratulated them on their success.
Fellow grad Lemuel Carradice echoed Whetzel's good wishes, and admitted he's going to miss his class and the memories they made at RRHS.
“It's been a really great experience," he lauded. ”We've all grown really close together and had some unreal experiences.
“When you're at that school, you know everybody so you just hang out with everybody,” Carradice added.
“Everyone's friends and it's really great.”
One of Carradice's fondest memories during his final year of high school was being able to represent students in the district as student trustee to the Rainy River District School Board.
“That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I took it,” he enthused.
"It was really interesting going to the board meetings and seeing the perspective of the board.
“And it was really an eye-opener for how much works goes on at the meetings,” he added.
Carradice said he was able to share his thoughts or concerns freely with the board and have his student voice heard to effect real change.
Moving forward, he plans to pursue an education in chemical engineering at Queen's University in Kingston in the fall.
He would like to wish all of his fellow grads the best of luck in their futures and reminds them to always follow their dreams.