Owen Patterson Smith wrapped up the events of the evening – and of the last 18 years – into a meaningful message in his valedictorian address on Thursday evening.

Grads advised to ‘savour this moment’

By Jenn Watt
Published July 3 2018

Necks craned and eyes gleamed as friends and family watched the Class of 2018 enter the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School auditorium on Thursday evening.

The students followed piper Andrew Mansfield for the special event – a long-held tradition. Teacher Brett Caputo ushered them through the correct door reminding them to slow down and take it all in.

This is the beginning of something important vice-principal David Waito told the grads. Commencement is a rite of passage.

As is his tradition principal Dan Marsden delivered his speech using lyrics from popular musicians such as Carrie Underwood and Ludacris. He said life will deliver curve-balls and what mattered was how you responded to them. “Live by choice not by chance” he said before advising the students to recognize you only graduate high school once.

“There is a last time for everything. Savour this moment.”

The message of mindfulness wasn’t lost on valedictorian Owen Patterson Smith who used his time at the podium to put the last 18 years in perspective globally and locally. During the grads’ lives massive political change has happened he said. He chose to focus on the positive changes including improvements in literacy green technology and the advent of the smartphone.

“In 2000 nobody would have guessed that we would have the ability to take photos on our phone and send it to someone in a matter of seconds. My parents say they used to have something called a roll of film in your camera” Patterson Smith said to laughter from the audience.

His is a generation that “snaps and tweets” with a language of their own. “Thank God for spellcheck” he joked.

Like his teachers before him he reminded his peers that life goes by quickly. The last four years of high school had gone by in a blur.

Today’s graduates need to find their place in the world and work to make sure the next generation is raised with safe food clean water and fresh air.

“It’s important that we all take care of ourselves” he said adding remember to smile and be kind to others.

Check out next week’s Haliburton Echo for the full Honours and Awards section.