Donnelly G.P. Vanier graduating class celebrates 2021 commencement

Georges P. Vanier graduates throw their caps in the air in front of the school to celebrate they have graduated from high school after ceremonies June 4.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Reaching a major educational milestone, 42 graduating students of Georges P. Vanier High School in Donnelly were in the spotlight during commencement ceremonies June 4.

“I wish for you to really live,” principal Pam Heckbert says as she addressed the students.

“Not to just exist and wait around until something happens, but to really live.

“To find happiness, even in simple things, to grow through painful things, and to experience what it is to find who you are and to know the feeling of achieving things you never thought you could.”

Only graduates and school staff were permitted to attend the ceremonies in the school gymnasium under COVID-19 restrictions.

Graduates were lauded for their commitment to persevere in disruptions in education since the pandemic started in March 2020.

Congratulations were read from High Prairie School Division trustee Karin Scholl and Lynn Skrepnek, who represents the Falher-Donnelly region.

“You have what it takes to face the future and everything it has in store,” Scholl and Skrepnek say.

“You have the capacity to share truth, to face wrongs, to infuse into others the power that kindness holds.”

They encouraged the graduates to move forward in a positive way.

“Face your future with integrity, never stop questioning, seek to understand and strive to commit to your highest sense of humanity above all,” Scholl and Skrepnek say.

“Whatever your next steps, we invite you to continue your journey of a lifetime of learning, to be bold and take risks, to be driven by courage… not fear and to find joy in what opportunities you pursue.”

Class valedictorian Darby Heckbert thanked parents, staff and others for their support and encouragement.

She lauded graduates for coping with COVID-19 to reach the education milestone.

“I know the last thing any of you probably want to hear about is COVID-19,” Heckbert says.

“But I think it is important to look back on some of our struggles and the experiences that have shaped our high school experience.

“Calling this year tough is probably quite the understatement for some of us, which makes our graduation all the more impressive.”

Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen also congratulated graduates in a letter that was read.

“You have many prosperous days ahead; you will enjoy many springs,” Loewen says.

“You will have your share of winters, too.

He encouraged graduates to move forward.

“Go out with confidence to meet those challenges, knowing that you are grounded in your values, your community, your family, and a lifetime of education – an education aided by your school and represented by a diploma in your hands, but also crafted by your experiences,” Loewen says.

The traditional Rose Ceremony was replaced by a Moment of Gratitude read by graduates Jenaya Andersen and Abbey Doris.

Graduates gave a special tribute to former career coach Katrina Jolie, who passed away March 2021.

PIC1: Georges P. Vanier graduates throw their caps in the air in front of the school to celebrate they have graduated from high school after ceremonies June 4.

PIC2: Georges P. Vanier graduates are honoured as the Class of 2021 at ceremonies June 4. Sitting in the front row, left-right, are Jenna Fortin, Sarah Brown, Brianna Willier, Alexis Cloutier, Haley Dolhan, Jenna Brulotte, Hannah Sasseville, Mackenzie Parker, Abbey Doris, Jenaya Andersen and Kennedy Ouellet. Standing in the middle row, left-right, are Alexandra Sliger, Ryanne Chailler, Jenna McNeil, Katelyn Kruger, David Rebamonte, JC Perez, Evan Carroll, Dawson Auger-Cardinal, Charles Castro, Aldeen Garcia, Micheal Calliou, J’Lyn Leganchuk, Emily St. Laurent, Darby Heckbert and Piper Tardif. Standing in the back row, left-right, are Kyle Guenette, Darren Roby, Derek Labrecque, Ethan Paradis, Tristan Bouvier, Treyton Anderson-Dafoe, Christian Nolette, Raiden Burt, Jax Drader, Brandon Prellwitz, Jonathan Taylor, Josh Tardif, Ian Ouellet. Graduates paid special tribute to former career coach Katrina Jolie, who passed away in March. A banner [not shwon] delivered a message, “Look, Ms. Jolie, we made it!”

PIC3: Young men are dressed sharply for graduation at Georges P. Vanier School. Standing left-right, are Josh Tardif, Kyle Guenette and Tristan Bouvier.

PIC4: Young ladies are dressed in dazzling dresses for the Georges P. Vanier School graduation. Left-right, are Jenna McNeil, Sarah Brown, Katelyn Kruger, Brianna Willier and J’Lyn Leganchuk.

Challenges of COVID met, exceeded, says valedictorian

Darby Heckbert, Valedictorian

Darby Heckbert
Valedictorian

Before I start, I would like to say thank you to all the students, teachers, parents and staff who have contributed to the success of our graduating class and who have made these last few years everything that they were.

We absolutely could not have done it without your constant support and encouragement.

Today, I am honoured to be standing among such a talented and hard-working group of students.

I know the last thing any of you probably want to hear about is COVID-19.

But I think it is important to look back on some of our struggles and the experiences that have shaped our high school experience.

Calling this year tough is probably quite the understatement for some of us, which makes our graduation all the more impressive!

Along with every good laugh we’ve had with each other, there have been hard times that came along as well.

Throughout these 12 years, it’s been amazing to see all of you grow together, yet turn into all of your own people.

Our high school experience, especially the last two years, have been a little different but have brought this group even closer together as we navigated our way through all of the uncertainties that this year has thrown at us.

As we now stand on the verge of adulthood, with the comfort and security of all of our little classrooms and our hometowns falling away, it’s important to remember the people and the things who have kept us motivated and who have gotten us this far.

There is no way we would be sitting in this room, diplomas in hand, had our teachers not dedicated hours and hours of their time to making sure we had all the tools we needed to succeed.

This day and every day leading up to it has been so crazy to me because I can still remember our kindergarten and Grade 6 graduations, our Grade 7 orientation and all of our dress up days in between like they were yesterday.

Who would’ve thought that some of us would actually go on to pursue the education and careers that we dressed up as when we were five years old?

With every year spent together being a little better than the last, we’ve finally made it to the end.

I didn’t actually believe anyone who said “Grade 12 goes by fast” but I get it now.

I didn’t think it would be this fast.

This year has been such a blur but I couldn’t have asked for a better and more supportive group of students to go through it with.

I am eternally grateful for the opportunities and experiences that we have been given within our school’s environment and I know that every single one of us is ready to step into the “real world” after surviving these last couple years of high school.

Vanier principal extends best wishes to graduating class

Pam Heckbert,
Principal,
G.P Vanier School

Pam Heckbert,
Principal,
Georges P. Vanier School

Hello, everyone watching,

Hello, Class of 2021!

On this day, and all days, these are my wishes for you:

I wish for you to have opportunities.

That many doors will open for you.

Doors to programs, courses, jobs, experiences, travel, relationships and all kinds of amazing paths in your learning journey.

I wish for you to have confidence and courage so when you are presented with those opportunities you take advantage of them.

And when they work out or not, you use them to build upon who you are… your whole beautiful self.

I wish for you each opportunity taken results in more growth, more confidence, and more courage to grow more, do more and be more of who you are meant to be.

I wish for you to really live.

Not to just exist and wait around until something happens, but to really live.

To find happiness, even in simple things, to grow through painful things, and to experience what it is to find who you are and to know the feeling of achieving things you never thought you could.

And then to achieve some more!

I wish for you to know how proud we are of you and that our support for you does not end today.

On behalf of the whole staff here, your families, and your whole community…we are so proud of you! We are proud of your accomplishments, the people you are today, and the people you will eventually become.

I wish for you to find happiness in sharing with each other, and everyone who supports you.

I wish for you to keep those relationships alive, be part of the network, pass it on.

These are the things I wish for you today, and all days.

From the bottom of my heart, congratulations!

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