‘We finally made it!’

Jared Monkman/NNSL photo Elycia Nimegeers gives the valedictorian speech, congratulating her classmates and thanking friends, family, and teachers for seeing them through.  June 25, 2015 DJSS

Jared Monkman/NNSL photo
Elycia Nimegeers gives the valedictorian speech, congratulating her classmates and thanking friends, family, and teachers for seeing them through.
June 25, 2015
DJSS

When valedictorian Elycia Nimegeers took the podium at last week’s Diamond Jenness Secondary School
convocation, she had
a simple message.
Beyond thanking parents and teachers for all their help throughout the course of their academic careers, she congratulated the graduates themselves on a job well done.
“We finally made it!” she said. “We grew up together … some of us even knew each other since even before kindergarten… school has become a ritual that we have grown to love — most of the time.”
Twenty-five students sat across from a crowd of family, friends and school staff onThursday, some of them moving on to higher education, some joining the workforce and some returning to the school for the infamous “victory lap” to complete their high school studies.
No matter what path, they were encouraged to follow their passions.
Miranda Orr, both mistress of ceremonies and the graduate’s chosen guest speaker, quoted the words she has inked on her own skin and told the graduating class to “do what you love, love what you do.” She promised them that if they did so, they may not be rich but they would be happy.
She said at first she was excited and pleased to learn she had been chosen for the honour of addressing the assembled students and families but then got nervous wondering what wisdom she should impart. In the end, she decided to riff on what has worked for her.
“The person you are right now sitting here is not the person you’re going to be in five years. I guarantee it,” she said.
“If you do what you love and you’re passionate about it, money can’t buy you those things … So go out there, explore, discover whatever it is that makes you happy.”
South Slave Divisional Education Council superintendent Curtis Brown had what perhaps amounts to more practical advice, telling the graduates that they would go forward with one of the very first lessons they ever encountered in school.
“School teaches you the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done,” he said, adding that this ability would serve them well for the rest of their lives.

— Sarah Ladik