The theme of this year’s graduation class at Elkhorn School was “Homegrown” taken from a song whose chorus says, “Here in a small town where it feels like home, I got everything I need and nothing that I don’t.”
For almost 18 years for most of the graduates, Elkhorn and area has been their hometown that gave them all they needed. However on this day, for the 11 Grade 12 graduates, it will soon be the start of the new adventure that will cause them to leave their hometown. But as program emcee and school principal Lance Barrate said in his opening remarks, “We hope some of you will come back to your home town and become the next generation of community leaders.”
Of the 11 grads, Andrew Bowering graduated in absentia, having finished in January and gone on to join the work-world. He was wished the best of luck in his future plans. After the procession of the grads and the introduction of each, the program moved on with the singing of O Canada, led by school music band teacher, Sandra Unger. This was followed by greetings from Fort La Bosse School Division area trustee Margaret Walker and the RM of Wallace-Woodworth representative, Roland Gagnon.
Three of the grads, Jessica Humphries, Harry Wagstaff and Amanda Twigg came forward to give a heartfelt and humorous Teacher Appreciation speech. The Valedictorian speech was given by Hunter Johnson, and in her presentation she not only reflected on her time and experiences at the school, but took the time to include personal anecdotes about each of her graduating class which brought smiles to their faces. Upon completion of her address, she was presented the Elks’ Valedictorian Award by Elkhorn Elks Branch No. 381 member, Chance Toder.
The next two items would be the grads’ thank you to their parents followed by the parents’ response. Both sides handled this part of the program well, except when it came time for the presentation of red roses to the parents and grandparents, tears would begin to flow from both sides.
Next followed the awarding of diplomas from school vice-principal Teresa Sanheim, who would describe the type of diploma and number of credits each student had received.
The FLBSD diplomas were handed out by Principal Barrate, and the Department of Education diplomas were handed out by MLA Doyle Piwniuk.
The next item on the program was the presentation of awards and scholarships, the longest part of the program, with new and old companies, organizations and individuals wanting to help out or recognize the students’ accomplishments.
Following the awards, as a memento of this year’s graduation, each student received a 2016 graduation tassel from next year’s student council president, Kelsea Sanheim. Elkhorn School and the FLBSD each have an honour role to recognize those students who have achieved a high academic standing during their high school experience.
The Elkhorn School Parent Committee Honour Roll awards were given by Janice Heritage to the following: Brooke Frederick, Bethan Lewis, Harry Wagstaff, Hunter Johnson, Amanda Twigg, Jess Humphries, and Aidan Heaman.
The same group of students would go on to receive the FLBSD Honour Roll distinction, presented by Elkhorn School administrators, Barrate and Sanheim. The final and major award of the ceremony was the Governor General’s Medal in Bronze for the highest level of academic excellence in the graduation class.
Principal Barrate gave the history of this award, the recipient’s academic accomplishments, plus the wide range of extracurricular activities the student was involved in, which was substantial throughout his school life. With a total of 45.5 credits and an average of 93 percent in his Grade 11 and 12 courses, the award was given to Aidan Heaman, son of Bob and Cheryl Heaman.
Aidan’s future plans hope to have him enrolled in the University of Alberta to pursue a career in engineering. The award to Aidan was presented by Superintendant of FLBSD, Barry Pitz.
Principal Barrate concluded the program with congratulations to the students and thanks to the staff members, Marci Rowan and Teresa Sanheim for the great amount of work they do to prepare for this event. He also thanked the community for their unparalleled support throughout the school year. After the graduates left the school gym, they formed a receiving line in the front courtyard of the school to thank family, friends and staff.
Later that evening, a supper and Safe Grad event were held in the community arena.