“It’s not just about the test marks, it’s about what we’ve learned.”
That’s the message class valedictorian Sage Sidley shared with her fellow students as Rossland Secondary School’s 2011 graduating class celebrated its final year of high school on Friday night.
The evening, which consisted of everything from ceremonies to prom, celebrated the past, present and future of the graduating class.
Ceremonies were held in the gymnasium, where the 45 graduates sat in the centre of the floor sporting purple and gold grad gowns.
Rossland Mayor Greg Granstrom gave the first of many tributes to the graduates.
“Once again, RSS has lived up to its tradition of success …be proud of yourselves and your accomplishments.”
For the audience members who may have been distracted by a certain hockey game being played at the same time in Vancouver, Principal Terry McDonnell relieved the tension by informing the crowd that the score of the game would be shown on the gymnasium scoreboards.
Many speeches and words of wisdom followed. Whether thanking the students, teachers and parents for their hard work or giving pep talks rich with hockey analogies, all shared a message of hope and gratitude.
Special guest speaker, RSS grad and rugby star Iain Exner gave a motivational and hard-hitting speech telling the grads to never give up.
“Enjoy yourselves and have the time of your life.”
Sidley, who will be attending the University of B.C. Okanagan, finished her valedictorian speech with a quote from the movie “Kung-Fu Panda.”
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift.”
As each graduate was called to receive their diploma, a small summary of the student’s future plans was read to the audience.
Many will be heading to colleges and universities across North America and Europe, while some will satisfy that hunger to travel. Others plan on taking the summer to decide what their plans are, but all share the same nervous excitement for what the future holds.
Over 60 scholarships and bursaries worth over $47,000 were handed out to deserving students. Criteria for awards varied greatly. Some were affiliation based while others were given for academic achievement. Awards were given on behalf of many local organizations, businesses and community members.
Once the ceremonies came to a close, graduates swapped their grad gowns for dresses and tuxedos. Grad banquet gave families, staff and students a chance to relax and socialize.
Toasts were given to parents and teachers, thanking them for all their hard work. Graduating student Archie McKinnon thanked the teachers and staff of RSS for “all their hard work and dedication.”
The Grand March gave students the opportunity to show off their beautiful and colourful attire to a large and cheering audience. Students stunned their family and friends with a long and intricately choreographed walk around the gymnasium.
A grad video, made by Mrs. Derosa, entertained the audience with pictures and video of the students throughout the past school year.
A slow dance followed, providing a special moment for grads to dance with mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers.
For the students, the evening was just beginning. After saying goodbye to loved ones, the grads crammed onto the dance floor for prom. The festivities and dancing continued all through the evening.
The busy evening was an inspiring and emotional celebration.
“This class felt like a family, which makes it bittersweet,” said Sidley.
But the year isn’t over yet. Students return to school on today for the final days of high school and, of course, final exams.