Pratt class celebrates commencement

Top academic graduating students received the Alberta Teachers’ Association Award for top average academic marks. Left-right, are Jeshuah Gilroy [second highest mark], Alexandra Aldrich [top mark] and teacher Natasha Martens, representing the ATA Local 48 [High Prairie School Division].

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Achieving a major educational milestone, 52 graduating students of E.W. Pratt School in High Prairie were honoured at commencement ceremonies June 11.
Pratt principal Etta Viens urged the students to focus on the future to make the best of their life.
“Turn your dreams into reality,” Viens says.
Several students were honoured with special awards.
Alexandra Aldrich won the Alberta Teachers’ Association Award
for the student with the top average academic marks in the class.
Jeshuah Gilroy won the Alberta Teachers’ Association Award for second highest marks. Gilroy also received the Student Spartan Award, presented to a student who shows excellent citizenship, exemplary school spirit and is positive and encouraging.
Taylor Oliver-Guerin won the Annah and Edward [E.W.] Pratt Award, sponsored by St. Mark’s Anglican Church in High Prairie, for a student involved in the community, has special talents in areas such as artistic, athletic and musical and contributes to school activities.
Elle MacIntosh won the Unsung Hero Award, presented to the student who diligently works on studies, is active as an athlete and volunteers in the school and community to benefit others.
Ella Deering was the female recipient of the Lynn Edwards Sports Award and Raiden Duchesneau was the male recipient for the top graduating athletes. Duchesneau also won the Johnny Linteris Award, presented to a graduating student who shows exemplary leadership as a football player.
Thomas Peacock won the Montana Blackwell Horizon Award, presented to a graduating student who enhances his or her future primarily through greater diligence towards school and participates in school and community activities.
As class valedictorian, Aldrich commended her classmates for persevering in the pandemic that started in March 2020.
“Each and every graduate here deserves great recognition and praise for the work they have done,” Aldrich says.
“Graduating, especially when having to adapt suddenly during COVID, is a major accomplishment that each grad here should be proud of.”
She described the journey much like a book.
“Graduation marks the end of yet another extraordinary chapter in our lives,” Aldrich says.
“With this chapter closed, I am certain that many of us are already anxious about starting the next one because, unlike an English book, we cannot skip through the pages of life to see how long the next chapter is going to be.”
She encouraged her classmates to write their story with positive and happy experiences.
“We all have our own book of life that has not yet been written and everyday that passes is another page we write in ourselves,” Aldrich says.
“Luckily, as E.W. Pratt graduates, we have been given all the paper and ink we need to write our own stories.
“And with the love and support of our families, friends and fellow graduates, our stories will become best sellers.”
As the salutatorian, Gilroy added his special words to his classmates.
“Remember how far we’ve come in the last few years,” Gilroy says.
“Always remember to finish well.”
Like the valedictorian, he also expressed gratitude to the leaders who supported them during their years in school.
“We thank our teachers and parents for pushing us to succeed,” Gilroy says.
High Prairie School Division vice-chair Tammy Henkel congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to make a positive impact wherever they are.
“Remember that you all have a role to play in the communities you choose to make your homes,” says Henkel, a High Prairie trustee and Pratt graduate.
She urged the graduates to remain committed to the families and supports to help them in life.
“In fact, you may need them more sometimes,” Henkel says.
“As we see a rise in mental health concerns, it will be important for you to reach out to your ‘family’ when you are struggling and this may even mean adding to your family when needed.
“It is important to celebrate your successes, but it may be more important to reach out during the hardest of times.”
Congratulations from the regional communities was expressed by Sherry Cunningham, vice-president of the provincial Metis Settlements General Council.
“You’ll go on to bigger and better things,” says Cunningham, of Peavine
She also commended the students for persevering in the during pandemic restrictions as classes were held online and in-person over various period of time.
Sucker Creek Chief Roderick Willier also congratulated the students.
“They put a lot of hard work to get here,” Willier says.

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