The Lake Cowichan Secondary School and Cowichan Valley Open Learning Cooperative grad class of 2012 toss their caps in celebration of their freedom before the graduation ceremony on Saturday

The Lake Cowichan Secondary School and Cowichan Valley Open Learning Cooperative grad class of 2012 toss their caps in celebration of their freedom before the graduation ceremony on Saturday

The start of a new chapter: The rest is still unwritten . . . Grad 2012

It was a thankful, and sometimes tearful, class of 2012 that said goodbye to the teachers and staff at Lake Cowichan Secondary.

It was a thankful, and sometimes tearful, class of 2012 that said goodbye to the teachers and staff at Lake Cowichan Secondary on Saturday, June 23.

The hall was decorated in a classic decor with pillars, tulle, and attention to detail. The theme “the rest is still unwritten” was made evident through a large gold pen and inkwell, and an open book, suspended from the ceiling and framing the stage.

The gymnasium was full of supporters; family and friends who cheered the students on and took every advantage for a photo opportunity.

Principal Peter Jory opened up by thanking all those who worked so hard to make the event possible, including teachers, staff, and parents. “We have not walked on this whole journey together, but have done some key stretches side by side,” he stated. “And we are here now, to celebrate, to recognize, to thank.”

Jory took some time to reflect on the class of 2012, and their presence within the school as the evening started. He commented about the students’ use of the school’s lobby, and how they treated it like an extension of their living rooms at home.

“Their personal items resided for days at a time on the picnic table. The key feature of course was the cubbies, with their names on them, just like kindergarten. Frankly I like that they were comfortable here in our little school. I’m not a huge fan of clutter, or for that matter noise, but it seems within reason a rather small price to pay for them to feel welcome. I happen to prefer it when our students are here as opposed to somewhere else.”

Jory referred to the group as a powerful one; a group of individuals who know how to get things done. “We have students that will go on to university and do post graduate work, and maybe even cure cancer or solve the global warming issue. There are students who will be writers, and musicians, and artists of various types. We have students who will transition right away into trades and be the glue that holds your town together. We have students who will be the caretakers and caregivers; who will look after you when you are sick and when you are old. We have students who will be the managers and the leaders, who are darn well going to change something, and change it soon, or look out.”

When Jory was done, the students and the audience were addressed by other guest speakers beginning with Duncan Brown and Eden Haythornthwaite from the School District 79 board of education, and Joe Rhodes from the Ministry of Education.

Each took a turn congratulating the class and thanking those who helped to make the event possible, and who helped the students make it to graduation.

There were, of course, nuggets of wisdom passed along to the grads to take with them as they head out into the world.

Rhodes started by sharing a couple of gems he says he picked up along his journey through life. He quoted his English teacher in high school who once shared a piece of poetry that has stuck with Rhodes over the years. “If you walk upon this earth with anger then the footprints of your life will be no more than those of someone walking along the ocean at low tide. But if you walk up on this earth in kindness, then the footprints of your life will be like those left in the permafrost; forever embedded. So choose kindness.”

Pat Biello, the school counselor, shared some humorous tidbits about the students. Including some of the responses, anonymous of course, students gave on their exams.

“As you sit here,” he said to the students, “those of us who have had any influence on you wonder just how good a job we have done in helping you prepare for your future. It has been an honour to be part of your lives and one that has left us teachers with wonderful memories. But don’t think that we haven’t sat in the staff room a time or two to discuss all of you. It was during these times that I had the opportunity to hear my colleagues share stories . . . and share some of the interesting answers given to them on exams.”

Question: What is a fossil? Answer: A fossil is an extinct animal. The older it becomes, the more extinct it gets.

Question: Where was the constitution signed? Answer: At the bottom of the page.

Question: Who is a census taker? Answer: A person going from house to house increasing the population.

“I make fun, but we teachers have taken our jobs seriously and we feel confident that your school days have prepared and readied you to move on. Never forget those of us who have been involved in supporting and encouraging you. Now that you have completed Grade 12, you are moving forward. Your life, is in your hands.”

The students had a chance to thank teachers and parents as well. Kara Foster, Robin Johel, Jorden Matson, and Eric Schilling each addressed specific teachers or staff members who made an impact upon their lives.

Kirsten Carpentier, Jade Sangha, and Shelby Wilcox sent out special thanks and, members of the grad committee presented potted flowers or plants, and their special thanks, to those teachers and staff members who put considerable effort into the grad event itself.

Finally, the class valedictorian, Tana Molenaar-Wilson delivered a heartfelt and memorable speech, reflecting on her own life and journey to graduation, and sharing a few embarrassing moments of her classmates, whom she has known for so many years.

“If I am going to leave the grad class of 2012 something to live by, it would have to be: think about what you are going to do, before you do it. What you think, could be funny, but it may end up getting you fired. Remember that there is nothing more valuable than life itself, and that the most prized possessions in life hold no price tag.”

After the candlelight walk and the parents’ waltz, the grads were off to have dinner before heading to the prom at Centennial Hall. They will be off on June 30, for their dry grad in Merritt for some white water rafting.

Congratulations, grads of 2012. All the best from the Lake Cowichan Gazette.