Nine students have graduated from Ecole Boreale.
And, according to principal Carole McLaughlin, that is a record number of graduates for the French-language school.
McLaughlin noted there were seven graduates last year and five graduates two years ago.
At graduation ceremonies on June 24, the principal, who will be leaving Ecole Boreale at the end of the school year, congratulated the students for their success, and talked of the opportunities they have by being able to converse in French and English.
McLaughlin added it is very important to be able to live together as francophones, anglophones and indigenous people.
“And learn from each culture,” she said to applause from the 150 or so people gathered at Ecole Boreale for the graduation.
The principal also encouraged the graduates to continue to learn after they leave Ecole Boreale.
“Learn to learn, but may I add to that, learn to love to learn,” she said.
The class valedictorian was Kiera Boulanger-Rowe.
She said she was “really proud” to be a graduate of Ecole Boreale.
On behalf of her classmates, Boulanger-Rowe also thanked everyone who helped the graduates complete their schooling.
Mayor Brad Mapes brought congratulations on behalf of the Town of Hay River.
In addition, he thanked McLaughlin for her contributions to the school.
Mapes noted the francophone community and Ecole Boreale have played a big part in attracting new residents to Hay River.
“We also have a rich history of francophones in our community,” he said, pointing out that some francophone families have been in Hay River since the early 1950s.
Mapes told the graduates that he hoped they would return to Hay River once they have completed post-secondary education elsewhere.
There were a number of other speakers, including Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson.
Simpson touted the benefits of post-secondary education for the graduates.
“Nothing opens doors like a post-secondary education,” said the MLA.
In a full-circle moment as the graduates were having pictures taken outside the school after the ceremonies, Cordell Gagnier posed for a class photo with a clipping from News/North from September 2004.
It shows Gagnier, then a kindergarten student, turning the sod to mark the beginning of construction of Ecole Boreale.
Before the main building was constructed, Ecole Boreale consisted of just four classrooms in two portable buildings.