By Vivian Collings
Teachers, family members, friends, and fellow students filled the Lloyd Watson Memorial Community Centre with beaming smiles and pride as eight Wilberforce Elementary School (WES) students collected their Grade 8 diplomas on stage.
With 11 Grade 8s graduating from WES in total, the ceremony signified the beginning of a huge change for them as they move on from the small school of 53 students to either Haliburton Highlands Secondary School or North Hastings Secondary School.
“Although we’re going to miss it all, we look forward to what’s to come. For the new memories to make. New goals to accomplish. New hopes and dreams to achieve,” said the two valedictorians Ruby Morrison and Daxton Underwood in their address to the crowd. “And now we’re going to high school, where we can find more opportunities.”
The students’ teacher, Jake Findeis, said that the graduates are more than ready for the new opportunities and challenges that await them.
“I feel extremely proud. I had them for half of Grade 4 and then Grades 6, 7, and 8, so I’ve seen a lot of growth and a lot of change. I’m excited for them,” Findeis said. “They’re also nervous, but they have no idea of the fun they’re about to have, and they don’t even realize how ready they are for it, but they are.”
The graduates said that they are both excited and nervous to be moving on to larger schools, and their favourite memories from WES were getting to spend time with one-another.
Principal of WES Barb Davies remarked on the progress the graduates made since starting at the school in kindergarten.
“As the years went by you worked hard, showed us your strengths, made many discoveries, had some great times and probably some not very great times. However, you have made it and we are so very proud of you,” she said in her principal’s message.
Trillium Lakelands District School Board trustee Gary Brohman congratulated the graduates and provided them with encouragement for the future.
“To the graduates, you did it. I don’t know how you did it with online, not so online … your perseverance and dedication will carry you through high school and I’m sure the adult world,” Brohman said.
Awards were also presented to Grade 4, 5, 6, and 7 students at the ceremony for mathematics, academic, leadership, citizenship, French, most improved, athletic, perseverance, the arts, and literacy.