Thursday June 27th, 2013 we celebrated the graduation of 72 young people from GSS. It was a special night. Yes, it was a warm night but it was worth sitting in the heat to join together as a community to share in this special event. It was a packed house and it was a special time to recognize the achievements of a group of wonderful young people.
Over $30 000 was handed out to students throughout the evening in the form of bursaries, awards and scholarships. This did not include all the entrance scholarships students also earned for themselves from the schools they will be attending. This was, indeed, a special community recognition of our own Gananoque Secondary School Trojans!
Steve Beckett and McKenzie Williams-Selby did double-duty as both graduates and emcees for the evening. They did a great job. I can’t thank our guest presenters enough. Joining us for the evening was much appreciated. It was very cool to have Merideth Brown perform a song for us and Jessie Cross delivered a great valedictory address. She captured what makes this place so special – the people and the relationships. It was also very cool that Mr. Tamblyn was able to quote Jessie’s valedictory address from grade 8 in his closing remarks.
I have attached a copy of the evening’s program here. This version includes the names of the recipients of the awards.
Graduation Program June 2013
Congratulations to all our graduates and their families. We look forward to hearing about all your future successes. Please stay in touch.
Following is my Principal’s Address that I shared at the beginning of the evening followed by the text of Mr. Tamblyn’s closing remarks.
Principal’s Opening Remarks:
Welcome. This is a special night. This is a special group of young people. Thank you for joining us this evening to recognize the accomplishments of this amazing group and to celebrate this milestone in their lives. I have so much that I want to say to you, and you know I like to talk about this school but I will keep it short. I admit, however, that it will be more than 140 characters. I have been collecting ideas all year and I spent a long time writing my speech and then I asked Ryan Dorey for his advice on giving my speech and, without hesitation, he replied, “Look up.” Thanks for that Ryan. Now, I can’t look at the speech I wrote.
I’d like to start by extending a special thank you to Mr. Carswell, our Associate Director, for joining us this evening. I would also like to express my appreciation to the 29 presenters who have joined us this evening. I also want to thank Steve and Mackenzie for taking on the Emcee role. I want to thank Sue Hart, our Office Administrator, for all the work she has done behind the scenes to put this evening together. She’s not with us, however, as she is attending her son’s graduation elsewhere. It was actually Sue’s initiative to get gowns this year for our graduates. I think it is a nice touch. It may not seem like such a good idea now to add a layer of clothing on such a warm evening but rest assured that you look fantastic despite how you might be feeling.
I want to thank our fantastic School Council and this year’s chair, Sara Leroy-Cote for their fundraising efforts and tremendous support for the school. The new tradition of the fundraising dinner is another shining example of what a great community this is. On your way in, you passed by the beautiful flowers that the Council has arranged. I’d like to thank Christine Forman and Forman Farms for donating the labor and helping support the school with these flowers. The council wanted to plant these in memory of Lorie Burgess who passed this year. Lorie volunteered her time here on our council and at Linklater over the years. She will be missed.
I want to thank our amazing staff of custodians, EAs, Office Assistants and Teachers who work so hard each and every day for our students and our community. There are a couple of absent staff members tonight. They send their regrets as they are off celebrating their own children’s graduations.
Thank you to the parents and family members who are here tonight, and, of course, thank you graduates.
June 27th! I can’t believe just how fast this year has gone by. What a year! Can you remember all that has gone on here? Here’s just a brief list to remind you of some of the unique memories since September: Frosh Friday, Kissing Pigs, the Turkey Bowl, the Mock Evacuation, For The Love Of Reading, A visit from Olympian Ken Cools, Coffee House, a visit from the Invisible Children Organization, the Wizard of Oz, Gummy Bear Fishing, the Sweaty Sock Pie Eating Contest!, the Silly String Assault, An amazing football season finishing in The Capital Bowl!, the Inside Ride, the Lip-Sync Competition, Winter Wake Up Week, , the Remembrance Day Assembly with special guest Cpt. Simon Mailloux, the Terry Fox Assembly led by Alex Johnston and Patricia Warren. The Webster Classics. Just recently we had our Athletic Awards Banquet – this year we honoured the memory of two amazing men, Jimmy Boltin and Rich Robinson. We had a very classy Prom. We held a number of dances. The Staff-Student Hockey Game, The Staff-Student Basketball Game and the Staff-Student Baseball Game. Over half the student population participated in some form of extra-curricular this year and there were 40 activities running this year. Amazing in a school this size! We had the “Trial Of Johnny Cade” and the “Stewards of the Trail Project” We painted a teacher’s car, went kayaking, hosted the First Nations, Inuit and Metis Day of Celebration and hosted Dr. Paula Stewart, Chief Medical Officer from the Health Unit for a forum on Nature and Our Health. We had students visit us here from North Carolina, Kansas, Columbia, Germany and China, Our own Patricia Warren and Merideth Brown went to El Salvador, Noah Clarke-Howes was in France and next year we have a student heading off to Japan.
This year the Hub was re-opened under the leadership of our TASK co-Leaders Alex and Steve. Each week over 20 TASK members met to organize events and to work together to make it things happen around here. That is amazing! That doesn’t happen everywhere. Alex and Steve and TASK were also instrumental in establishing the new Intermediate Student Krew or TISK. I am confident that this will be a tradition that will exist here for ever more. You have left a legacy. Nice work.
These are just some of the things over the past 10 months. Add to this list all your memories from grades 9, 10 and 11. Your years here have been full. I am so proud of this school and you students. This stuff doesn’t happen everywhere. I’ve told you repeatedly that this is a special place and it is happening because you made it happen and people are noticing. We have been visited by delegations from Perth, Brockville and were asked to share our story of becoming a 7-12 school with the community of Parry Sound. I have received multiple requests from other schools to come visit to see how things are done here. You have been making it happen, people are paying attention and I am very proud of you.
I would like to thank the grad class for a new tradition you have started. We have ordered photos that will be inserted over the doors leading to the science wing. Jessie, Patricia and MacKenzie have selected photos from this year and have created a display that represents some of what has happened this year. These will be installed over the next week or so. Next year when people enter the building they will get a sense right away about what makes this such a special place. If it works out, grad classes for years to come will arrange to select a new set of pictures to be displayed representing their year. Great leadership girls!
Not everything has been easy this year. We have had our share of difficulty. We were threatened with the Mayan’s prediction of the end of the world back in December. We lost the penny this year. We had a labor disruption and students led a peaceful walkout. We had all those snow days and lost out on having our Holiday Assembly. This year we saw the tragedy in Newtown and the horror in Boston.
I recognize that many of you have had to overcome personal obstacles on your journey to tonight’s recognition. I am proud of you. You did it. You made it to tonight.
Graduation. What a time this is for each of you. Graduation is a time to look back and to look forward. Nostalgia will continue to set in over the years as you look back at your time here at GSS. I hope you always look back with fondness and pride of your accomplishments. As you look forward with excitement and trepidation, remember that you are always a Trojan and are never alone.
For parents and families this is also a special time. We feel wistful in wondering where the time has gone. It was only last week that we were helping you tie your shoes and walking you to the bus. It was only yesterday that we signed your first field trip form or allowed you to attend your first dance. Tonight we see you graduate from high school. As parents, I’m sure you are proud and excited about what lies ahead but I’m also sure that you can’t help but think back to that 5-year old again or long to play one more game of peek-a-boo with that two year old version of these graduates before us tonight. It’s a special time of remembering and of looking ahead.
Tonight we ask that you indulge us as we pass on our last pieces of advice before you leave.
I want to ask you to believe.
I believe in each and every one of you. This is a room full of people who have, and will continue to, believe in you. I’m certain that your accomplishments have come, in part, as a result of your own belief in yourself.
Dave Matthews sings, however, that, “We have to do much more than believe if we really want to change things. We have to do much more than believe if we want to see the world change.” I want you to consider that.
I have seen many of you do much more than believe this year. Before the first day of school, some of you were here in this gym providing energy and guidance to our grade 9’s in our first Link-led orientation. That morning we were all challenged by Mrs. Clark to “be the people that make things happen.” I think it’s fair to say that you, as a group, met that challenge. You made things happen this year.
You have to believe but you have to do much more than believe if you want to change.
Why must we change? The world has become increasingly complex and it’s never going to stop. We can’t fool ourselves into believing that we can simplify our world. We can’t. We can only develop increasingly more complex mindsets. We have to think differently. We accomplish this through developing resiliency to overcome obstacles and by exercising character and working together as a community.
In this information and communication age we are inundated with technology and a never-ending stream of information from around the world. It is interesting and important to remember that in all this information and communication we cannot lose sight of the fact that we do all this sharing and connecting because we have far more in common with one-another than we have different. Be there for others and trust that they will be there for you.
As much as everyone in this room wants nothing but happiness and success for you, the reality is that life can be tough. A great deal of uncertainty lies ahead. Where is life going to take you? What fortune lies ahead? What pitfalls lie in wait?
Scary, eh? Make a choice to believe and make a choice to see that “When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” Embrace the possibilities.
Lastly, I’d like to share a line from Ray Wiley Hubbard, “And the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, well I have really good days.”
Be grateful for your friends, your family, your health and the opportunities that you are afforded.
I am proud of you. I am grateful to know you. Congratulations and THANK YOU for being the people you are. Class of 2013: You Rock!
Chris Boston, Principal
Vice Principal’s Closing Remarks:
Good evening parents, family members, members of our staff, Associate Director Carswell, special guests and honoured graduates. Thank you for being a part of this very special night.
I’d like to begin by saying that the last time I spoke at a grade 12 commencement, it was my own…just a couple of years ago. I was honoured to address the graduating class that year, and I am just as honoured to be addressing you folks; the graduating class of 2013. I was toying with the idea of just using my speech from that year, but I thought better when I realized that you probably wouldn’t want to hear that Bryan Adams, Color Me Badd and CC and the Music Factory dominated the charts, or that the mullet (all business in the front, and all party in the back) was the latest hair craze. And yes, I did sport one of those fine haircuts and it was cool. However, as I was going through some files this week, I did come across something special from my more recent past. Tonight you heard from your valedictorian, Jessie Cross who did an excellent job inspiring you and helping you reminisce about your past while asking you to also consider your future. What some of you don’t know is that Jessie is a pro at addressing graduating classes. She was also the valedictorian of her grade 8 class, along with Tyler Turcotte, at TIES in 2009. Jessie I’m going to hold you to the promise you made me back then. This is taken directly from Jessie’s speech that I kept, and I quote:
“Although Mr. Tamblyn was not my teacher this year, he did teach me many important life lessons last year. These lessons will always stick with me. Mr. Tamblyn used his own personal experiences to help me better understand the relevance of my own actions in my daily life and apply them to all situations. Mr. Tamblyn actually told me to “Get a Life” (those of you who were in that class will understand what I meant by that) because not everyone can change their name to Gene Simmons, play dress up and rock and roll night and party every day. So Mr. Tamblyn, I promise to come back and visit you and show you how I have applied your life lessons into my own life. I promise I will be back before the Montreal Canadiens win the cup, which should give me a couple of decades.”
Now, while that last sentence hurt, I am happy to see all of the successes Jessie and her classmates have experienced over the last 4 to 5 years. Graduates, you have many things to be proud of and you have many things to look forward to as well. You are entering a new and exciting chapter in your lives. You are approaching adulthood and with that comes big responsibilities, freedoms, challenges and most importantly, opportunities. Give yourself the benefit of living your life for you. Be a leader, and make decisions that you believe, in your core, are the right decisions. As you venture through life, heed this advice that I believe is essential to living a happy, healthy, and prosperous existence.
Quite simply, do what makes you happy. More specifically, as you begin your careers, do what you love to do. Discover your interests, whether it be in the arts, business, the trades, or health and fitness to name but a few. When you discover your interests, a passion will soon develop and then explore careers that require those types of interests. It is then that you will, as the old adage goes, “never work a day in your life.” Sir Ken Robinson, who is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education and in business, calls this phenomenon, “Finding your Element.” Essentially he defines finding your element as a journey of self- fulfillment. This journey is accomplished by tapping into and converging our personal talents and passions. In today’s world, we are struggling with economic issues, environmental disasters and tense political regimes. Our students, you folks, are challenged with helping to solve today’s global problems and work to avoid the same issues in the future. What is the goal? What are the strategies we will employ? What is the action plan? These are questions that you will encounter many times. By finding your element, you will be better prepared to take action and be satisfied with the results. You will be a difference maker, and the world needs more of those. So, in short, be curious, be explorative, be innovative, be passionate and be “in your element.”
Before I conclude, I would like to take few moments to address the parents we have here tonight. I’m borrowing a few words that I used at the Gr. 8 ceremony on Monday as I think they are appropriate tonight as well. Parents, we thank you for providing for your children, for instilling in them the values of a good person, and the value of an education as it is the ticket to their future. We thank you for reaching into your pockets to help us provide out of school experiences for our students. They are moving on to a new stage in their lives and they will continue to need your guidance and wisdom as they grow older. I’m sure this is a time of excitement and hesitation for you as your children are growing up. As such, please continue to be their guide as they encounter new challenges and opportunities. They will need you to do so.
To the dedicated staff here at GSS, thank you. Thank you for providing assistance, support, and the care that our students needed. It is important work that we do, and you have made a difference in their lives.
To conclude, I would like to borrow the closing statement from Jessie’s speech four years ago. Again, I quote, “As we look out at our graduating class of 2013, we see many faces. These are the faces of potential, inspiration, and dedication. These faces have shown that they can do anything, and I mean anything they put their minds to and these faces have made so many amazing memories which are to last a lifetime.”
Ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you Gananoque Secondary School’s graduating class of 2013! Congratulations graduates!
Rich Tamblyn, Vice Principal