It’s funny how many incarnations the Recreation Centre ice surface can take on.
First this year it was lobsterfest, then a dance. But it was the graduating class of 2011 that added a little bit of extra sparkle to the décor.
Along with the purple gauze hanging from the ceiling, the Diamond Jenness Secondary School signature colour covering up all that is concrete and drab, parents, friends, students and teachers sat in contentment as they celebrated a class of 33 brightly robed graduating students.
“When I woke up this morning I thought about your accomplishments,” said master of ceremonies, J.J. Hirst.
“I put myself in your parent’s shoes and was ‘smiling ear to ear’ proud. You’ve made everyone very proud today.”
Dennis Bevington, M.P for the Western Arctic, expressed his feeling of privilege to stand in front of a graduating class in the territories at this point in time, a population whose responsibility he said, will be called upon in the very near future.
“You will be in demand, there’s no question about that,” said Bevington.
“We’ll need you to take part in our society. You have the tools and can take that direction any way because you are socially sensitive, tech savvy, and you understand tolerance.”
MLA for Hay River South, Jane Groenewegen told grads to pay attention to this snapshot in time.
Lyle Fabian, councillor for K’atl’odeeche First Nation compared connections on Facebook with those made in small towns like Hay River, and the sometimes obvious six degrees of separation.
He told students to remember these ties. Groenewegen encouraged students to take pride in making their own decisions.
“A lot of times up until this point people were probably making a lot of decisions for you,” said Fabian.
“Soon you will be making these decisions on your own. That can be exciting. That can also be very scary. So learn to lean on your friends.”
Key speaker, Hay River District Education Authority member Louise Schumann, encouraged students to be mindful and always remember their abilities.
“Some measure success by how happy they are,” she said, “some on the success of their careers, others on how much time they have to spend with family and friends. Whatever your motivations are, take time to live in the moment and find balance in your busy lives.”
Adam Lakusta’s valedictory address brought some touching yet comedic moments to the ceremony.
It was Mayor Kelly Schofield’s gift to a few lucky members of the class that unsurprisingly got a raucous review—two tickets to go bungee jumping in West Edmonton Mall.
But the incentives didn’t come without a life lesson or two, or three.
“You will most certainly make mistakes,” he said. “But use these as learning tools. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks, but do this with a level head and a sense of responsibility. Find joy and excitement in all you do, and if you are in a job you don’t like, do it well.”
It could be many or none of the words spoken at last week’s graduation ceremonies that could residually resonate with students as they continue on their path of life.
Or, they may only need to look at the vibrantly coloured structure to spark memories of lessons learned, indicated Schofield.
“Wherever you go, be proud of where you came from. This is your home,” said Schofield. “And, tell everyone you meet that you graduated from a purple school.”