It was an evening of laughter, tears and celebration as the 2017 graduating class of Lake City Secondary School took to the stage at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex Friday evening.
More than 220 students crossed the stage in Rink 1 in front of a packed house of proud friends and family for the event, which got underway at 6:30 p.m. Friday evening instead of the usual Saturday morning ceremonies in previous years.
After the Williams Lake Pipe Band led in the 2017 senior class, vice-principals Curt Levens and Ken Lucks introduced themselves and principal Gregg Gaylord before graduating student Sarah Wright sang the national anthem.
Grade 8 student Maea Johnson, a member of the Williams Lake Indian Band, and WLIB education support worker Norma Sure gave a welcoming speech on behalf of the band and her grandmother, Heather McKenzie, senior education manager for the WLIB, followed by congratulatory speeches delivered by School District 27 superintendent Mark Wintjes, SD 27 board chair Tanya Guenther, SD 27 director of instruction Jerome Beauchamp, Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, CRD director Joan Sorley, and LCSS principal Gregg Gaylord.
Beauchamp had some fun with all the grads, asking them with a show of hands, if they wanted thank their family for the support given to them throughout their school years (which they did) before singling out the many graduates wearing light blue sashes signifying their Aboriginal heritage.
Beauchamp said the percentage of First Nations, Metis and Inuit students graduating from SD 27 has risen from 35 per cent seven years ago to more than 60 per cent now.
“Why is that number so important?’ he said, noting the graduation rate for female Aboriginal students is at 80 per cent. “This group represents a trend … people are looking up to you, they want to be just like you.”
Beauchamp added that high school graduation is an achievement that leads to even greater accomplishments in life.
Gaylord also acknowledged the Aboriginal students, as well as the graduates wearing purple sashes representing those receiving a double dogwood in French Immersion. He also explained the commemorative wheel pins grads were wearing on their robes was to remember fellow student Tyler Tenning who passed away just a few months shy of his graduation.
Gaylord commended the students for supporting each other through such a difficult loss with kind words and actions. He said the students and staff at LCSS have a deeper emotional connection due to grieving the loss of Tenning this year, and last year’s loss of beloved teacher Laura Kaufman Storoschuk, who was also in an accident.
Teacher Jeannette Gobolos recognized five new scholarship and bursary donors; the Chelsea Albrechtsen Intergenerational Program Scholarship, awarded to Cameron Sytsma, the OK Tire Bursary, awarded to Leah Harry, the Jordan Siegmueller Memorial Scholarship, awarded to Gina Davis and Joban Saini, the Little Moccasins Learning Centre Bursary, awarded to Brendan William and Kimberly Hance, and the Lakers Car Club Bursary, awarded to Justin Chamberlain and Jack Jacobsen.
LCSS top academic awards went to Chris Baye, Kiana Desmond, Callie Franklin, Patrick Kneic, Angela Melney, Russell Waterhouse and Kara Zavitz. These students worked hard to keep all their grades above a 93 per cent average throughout both Grades 11 and 12.
Dogwood/District Authority Awards for LCSS are as follows:
Fine Arts was awarded to Sarah Whitwell, Julian Lachapelle, David Russell, Mariah Garten, Hailey Richards, Haley Ramier and Kara Zavitz.
Physical Activity was awarded to Conley Pinette, Carrie Lange, Cody Swan and Lukas Johnson.
International Languages was awarded to Haley Strohschein.
Community Service was awarded to Lorette Jeff-Combs and Ben Lamb-Yorski.
Technical and Trades Training was awarded to Jack Jacobsen, Trevor Chaffee, Zeb Matherly-Shields, Blake Haley, Joshua Phillips and Jordan Rosner.
Indigenous Languages and Culture was awarded to Kimberly Hance and Jessica Lulua.
Applied Design, Skills and Technologies was awarded to Meaghan Boate.