Welcome to a day of celebration, Tracy Forsythe, principal of the Kamsack Comprehensive Institute, said June 30 at the beginning of the academic ceremonies for the school’s Class of 2016.
“Today we honour and celebrate the academic accomplishments of our students,” Forsythe said, before quoting the graduates’ theme: “Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.”
Forsythe said that the students have worked hard and have been well equipped to go into the world and reminded the students that they are only beginning that journey.
“Be good humans and you will climb mountains,” she said, urging them to achieve their goals and to take pride in their accomplishments that brought them to this day.
“You will be missed.”
The afternoon program, with Laurissa Fedorchuk, Allison Placatka and Mikayla Woloshyn as emcees, had begun with the entrance of the graduates, one by one, into the hall. Allana Finnie sang O Canada and then Forsythe and Ryan Gareau, vice-principal, presented a diploma to each of the 31 students graduating.
Tribute to Good Spirit
“‘Students Come First’ and 'Building Strong Foundations to Create Bright Futures' are the words one will read when looking at our school division website,” Henry Thomas said in his tribute to the Good Spirit School Division.
“The Good Spirit School Division is home to 29 schools which include three schools in the Kamsack area, the newest school within the school division is the Bear Stream School, which is part of the Clarion Colony near Kamsack.
“The two public schools situated in Kamsack are Victoria School where many members of our grad class attended in our elementary school years, and, of course, KCI where I, along with my fellow classmates graduate from on this stage today.
“‘Students Come First’ is a very fitting quote for GSSD to adopt because it is the truth,” Thomas said. “This, along with the quote, ‘building strong foundations to create bright futures,’ represent the importance of us students, today and for the future.
“The tasks of designing staff within the school, bringing new learning strategies to improve understanding, and making sure the school is safe for everyone are vital in the growth and stability in a school,” he said, adding the efforts to optimize funds and budgets ranging anywhere from art supply to sports equipment or science labs are also part of the board’s job.
“The unending list of demands is heard by the school division and they truly are doing their best to give schools the latest technology and curriculum to enhance the students’ abilities of learning.
“When thinking about who plans bus routes, sporting events, and field trips, often it is considered that the school is responsible, but in fact the school division is always there to authorize these outside school events to ensure they are the safest and best for the students.
“Without the help, hard work, and dedication of Good Spirit School Division and all of its members, students would not come first, actually, students would not come at all,” Thomas said. “There would be no school.
“On behalf of the graduating Class of 2016, I would like to thank you for everything you have done to help us get here today.”
Bryan Cottenie replied, saying that the board tries to provide the facilities, which will help to bring about the promise of bright futures. Set goals and have high expectations, he said. “Best wishes.”
to First Nations
“Mino kišikat,” James-Ross Tourangeau said as he took to the podium to offer a tribute to the First Nation communities.
“It is an honour for all to attend this once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Tourangeau said. “On the behalf of the First Nation graduates, we would like to thank the communities of Cote First Nation, Keeseekoose First Nation and the Town of Kamsack for supporting the First Nation peoples.
“There are many ways that we have enjoyed their support, but I am especially grateful for the moral support in reaching our goals,” he said, explaining that when discussing his plans after high school, members of the communities have always encouraged him to “be whatever I dreamed of and let nothing get in the way of my goals.
“Without these types of people within these communities, I personally would not be standing here today,” he said. “For this, I am thankful.
“I am also honoured to be standing beside my non-First Nation graduates as we both experience this great achievement together,” he said. “Regardless which community we come from, we, the First Nation graduates thank you, for your support.
“Mikwêč šikwâ kika-wâpamin minawâ,” he said. “Thank you and I'll see you all again.”
The reply was by his mother, Eileen (Sonya) Desjarlais who congratulated all graduates and said that it has been a long road for Indigenous people.
“It has been an honour and a blessing to watch you grow,” she said.
Kaylie Bowes made a tribute to the teachers, saying that the students had been taught by many, bringing them to where they are today.
Teachers have encouraged the students to try harder, to persevere and to go the extra mile and they deserve the highest respect, Bowes said.
In reply, Joanne Schwartz encouraged the students to look to their future, which is now in their hands.
“We provided you with the foundation of knowledge,” she said, referring to the graduating class as students who are unique risk takers and a challenging group.
Be compassionate humans, Schwartz said.
In his tribute to the parents, Jayden Chutskoff said that this journey wasn’t easy for any of the parents.
“We aren’t your average group of kids,” Chutskoff said. “We are an active, crazy class that must have driven you guys off the wall all the time. But thanks to you, we try our hardest when we want something accomplished.
“As parents, you have taught us that we can achieve anything we set our minds to,” he said. “Unfortunately, as much as you would have liked, homework was never one of those things.
“We believe in ourselves. We believe in ourselves because you are our role models, or teachers, and our number one idols. Not only are you our number one idols, you are also our number one supporters. When we were down in sports, you would cheer harder, when we lost an important game, you would comfort us, and when we fell down you would pick us back up again. You would tell us to keep trying, to keep moving forward and we did because you told us we could.
“Somehow, from all the headaches, teacher calls, late nights staying up, you managed to be the ones that held everyone together. You took time out of your daily routine to support us, to drive us to our sports games, and to make sure we made it to school on time.
“I hope one day I can be half the person my parents are,” he said. “So, on behalf of the Class of 2016, I would to thank the parents for making us into the adults we are today. None of us could have been here without you.”
The reply was by Kim Chutskoff, Jayden’s stepmother, who said that doors are opening for the graduates, and their parents will always love them and be proud to call them their sons and daughters.
“We will be your biggest supporters,” she said.
Cassidy Aker and Kyle Morgan presented the legacies of the Class of 2016, mentioning each of the students and what each chose to “leave” behind at the school.
Samantha Klapatiuk delivered the valedictory address and then Devin Klapatiuk introduced Robert McLean, the guest speaker.
“Savour this emotional day for it will not come again,” McLean told the graduates. “Remember this is just the beginning not an end.”
Offering a “pat on the back as you go out the door,” McLean mentioned each of the graduates and offered a short story of his relationship with each one.
“You’ve survived high school,” McLean said. “All will be fine.”