Family, friends and teachers gathered for the graduation exercises at the Canora Composite School on June 27 in order to honour the graduating class of 2019.
The 25 members of the graduating class were: Joanne Babb, Derek Barteski, Cody Bazarski, Sarah Boulanger, Jordan Chambers, Kelsey Chupa, Carson Dereniwsky, Maranda Donovan, Jill Gulka, Mackenzie Gulka, Rebecca Hort, Tyler Kopeck, Riley Kowalyshyn, Echo Kozmanuik, Grace Medvid, Sabrina Moshenko, Felicity Mydonick, Zachary Norum, Logan Parmley, Steffany Perrick, Brett Popoff, Owen Popoff, Jake Cairns, Sydney Unick and Brandon Zuravloff.
Curtis Baillie and Dustin Nielsen, teachers, were emcees for the graduation exercises. They referred to the 2019 class as “a special group. You raised the bar in academics and athletics. This is a celebration of your hard work.”
A total of 20 scholarships were presented to the graduates based on a fixed set of criteria.
Grace Medvid won the Canora RCMP scholarship and the CIBC scholarship.
Mackenzie Gulka received the Beta Sigma Phi scholarship and the Ss. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League scholarship.
Rebecca Hort was awarded the Canora Ag Society scholarship and the Canora Lioness scholarship.
Brett Popoff received the Canora Ambulance scholarship.
Sydney Unick won the Gateway Co-op scholarship and the Canora Economic Development scholarship, while Jake Cairns captured the second Canora Economic Development scholarship.
Derek Barteski received the Canora Fire Department scholarship and the St. Joseph’s Catholic Women’s League scholarship.
Kelsey Chupa was awarded the Canora Hospital Auxiliary scholarship and the Leson’s Funeral Home scholarship.
Felicity Mydonick won the Community Insurance scholarship and the Crossroads Credit Union scholarship.
Sarah Boulanger received the Royal Canadian Legion scholarship and the Helen Forbes scholarship.
Carson Dereniwsky was awarded the Richardson Pioneer scholarship.
Jill Gulka received the Town of Canora Scholarship.
Cindy Smith, principal, presented the scrolls to the graduates and gave the administrator’s remarks.
“Today we are celebrating the achievements of the graduating class of 2019,” said Smith.
“This day is the best part of my job and what all teachers look forward to at Canora Composite School. “From Grade 5 on, we try to prepare you for moving on from school. In all the lessons we have taught you how to cope with stress, deadlines and responsibilities. This will help you for the rest of your lives.
“We send you our very best wishes for your future.”
The guest speaker was Thomas Lowes, teacher, who began with a story.
“Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson decide to go on a camping trip. After dinner and a camp fire, they lay down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend.
"Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see."
Watson replied, "I see millions of stars."
"What does that tell you?"
Watson pondered for a minute.
"Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets."
"Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo."
"Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three."
"Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant."
"Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow."
"What does it tell you, Holmes?"
Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke: "Watson, are you kidding? Someone has stolen our tent!"
“Sometimes we try too hard and miss the point.
“I have had the honour and privilege to teach math to these wonderful young people for the past four years.”
Lowes said the class of 2019 has excelled academically.
“I am sure that they have the highest class average of any class I have ever taught. They are even willing to put in time doing school work while away at tournaments. They are hard workers, leaders, role models, and change makers. If there is work to be done there are always volunteers.
“It needs to be done right Mr. Lowes,” they have said.
“If it’s not being done to their standards, they are willing to take matters into their own hands. For example, shovelling gravel if necessary and driving in circles for an hour, eating ice cream while working to smooth out the parking lot.
“These are the type of kids that would go out of their way to show appreciation, even to strangers, for what they see as a job well done. A random cup of coffee, a muffin, or a simple thanks is not uncommon at all with this crew.”
Lowes said even though the class has achieved high marks academically, class members appreciate the importance of having fun.
“They have a way of making me talk, sometimes about the craziest things. Here are some pretty common conversation starters: “You know what? I am just going to say this.
“Did you just hear what she just said?
“Hey! Guess what I just bought?
“Seriously, when am I ever going to use the quadratic formula again in my life?
“I think we should watch Ricky Bobby today.”
“Mr. Lowes are my arms supposed to do this?”
“We talk about things like poor circulation, indigestion, broken bones and dislocated elbows, many other medical issues, tires, the pros and cons of hood stacks, what rims to buy, what’s new on Kijiji, movie quotes and who said them, what to do on a snow day, what not to do on a snow day, how a younger brother’s nose got broken, and many other topics.
“I always laugh thinking about the day the boys went cruising and got stuck in the snow down some random road, and the girls headed out in their fancy dresses and heels to go rescue them. I will miss being able to tell the time by the sound of the loud vehicles in the parking lot. The cheeky chirping and sarcasm in the background during calculus always brings a smile to my face. Grads, the years have gone by fast and it has been a tonne of fun.”
Lowes went on to share some parting thoughts with the graduates, which, for the most part, came from their chosen theme, “You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.”
“This is an interesting choice of quotes,” he observed. “Where is the ladder? What is success? Why are my hands in my pockets?
“Let’s talk about that for a minute. Your ladder is the path you will take as you head into the future. Everyone’s ladder is different. They have their own path that they must follow. Find your path and start climbing that ladder. You may find that your path wanders as you move along but never let that discourage you. Every little bit of experience forms us into the people that we are. The wandering is what makes you unique and builds your character. Albert Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” Go get some knowledge. Choose your path and own it!
“Success, I’d say, is finding your passion and living it. It doesn’t matter what it is. Whether it be farmer, doctor, electrician, plumber, welder, train engineer, nurse, chiropractor, Canadian Tire product tester or even teacher, it doesn’t matter. Play off your strengths. Whatever you are good at, become really good at it. Put your best into it and hone your skills. Be willing to break the mold and be yourself, whatever that may entail. Follow your heart and let no one get in your way. Your version of success is unique to you.
“Are your hands in your pockets? Get them out of there and take an active role in making your success a reality and spurring others on to achieve theirs. Once you have found your path to your passion, you need to embrace it. Grab life firmly by the horns and get after it. Be brave and do it. Find your ladder, your passion, and give it all you’ve got. Own it!
“Thanks for all the great years.”
The graduating class chose Derek Barteski as valedictorian. Barteski had his own thoughts on climbing the ladder of success.
“So here we are, up on stage. They say high school is a long journey, but really, to get up here today you’ve just gotta take those stairs over there.”
Barteski said it seemed like it was just last week that they had started high school.
“I think this entire year I’ve seen Sarah on her phone more than with a pencil in her hand. But like all of us up here, she got ‘er done.
“I think I speak for all of us when I say we’re definitely gonna miss this place, the teachers, and the common playful bickering between us; well, mostly playful. If it wasn’t for the breaks during the year and the time at home, I would probably not be speaking today. Felicity would have killed me by now.”
Barteski shared a number of different memories of Canora Composite School.
“I remember when we first got into this school and how terrifying the seniors seemed to us. Now that we’re those seniors we know how ridiculous that was. The best part of our whole time here, or more specifically math class, was definitely the Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell movie extravaganza. Anyone who has ever taken a math class in the last six years knows the script for Talladega Nights.
“But don’t worry, we also did math; most of the time. Mr. Lowes’ classroom, however, wasn’t just a classroom, it was a hangout for us, whether we talked amongst ourselves or with him about hotrods and things we can’t afford.”
Along with the majority of his classmates, Barteski said he appreciated the opportunity to grow up and go to school in Canora.
“In reality it’s a small town, but we made it huge, whether we were in or out of school. Just this last semester, Cody took it upon himself to put on the event of the week, and that was dragging some harrows around the parking lot. Most would brush off those simple moments if they didn’t understand, but they are going to stick with us forever.
“Like riding our sleds to school after a snowstorm and doing donuts in the snow on Ty’s Renegade. When the snow melted it would be his car, or dirt bike, or really anything that had an engine in it; we would cut cookies with it. And after the dust cleared, every time Jill would be there to shake her head at us and let us know what idiots we are.
“We didn’t just goof around, though. We had some very serious debates in our classes. However, they usually ended with Kelsey roasting someone pretty hard. Doesn’t matter who it is, if you get her going, she’ll crush your spirit and make you never want to debate with her again.
“Going through all 12 years of school we’ve all had our ups and downs, good moments and bad moments, however that was just the world teaching us what to do and when to do it.”
Barteski said the class is grateful to many people for helping them to reach the milestone of graduation.
“The town, the school and the people around us made us who we are,” he said. “No one up here is a quitter. I just ask that everyone graduating here today takes that attitude and applies it everywhere you go and to everything you do. No one in this class is going to do anything shy of great, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds for all of us.”