CARSTAIRS - The Hugh Sutherland School graduating class of 2021 refused to let the COVID-19 pandemic stand in the way of making the most of a memorable final school year, says valedictorian Tyler Kidd.
Sixty students graduated during an outdoor ceremony at the Carstairs Memorial Arena on June 25, with hundreds of family members, friends, teachers, staff, dignitaries and others in attendance.
“Never once did this pandemic stop us from leaving our mark upon Hugh Sutherland,” Kidd said in his valedictorian speech. “So much has been taken away by this pandemic. A regularl high school year, a normal graduation. Even time with loved ones. So many memories lost to the endless theft of COVID-19.
“However, I have been lucky enough to graduate with a class which never let this pandemic stop them from achieving their goals. Despite restrictions and constant changing from in-person to online classes, we have still made it to walk across this stage.
“Miraculously, we still managed to have senior ditch day, senior pranks, and truly amazing moments at this school which defeated all the grief caused by this pandemic.”
Kidd thanked parents, teachers and staff for helping the graduates during their respective school careers.
“By encouraging us to become the best individuals and supporting us throughout our lives and education, you have built us a future,” he said. “Without your resiliency this night would not be possible. Farewell to all of those who helped us along the way.”
This year’s graduating ceremony was the second held outdoors due to the pandemic, with many guests watching the proceedings from cars and trucks pulled up to the stage drive-in style.
The graduation ceremony saw addresses from a number of dignitaries, including Chinook’s Edge School Division superintendent Kurt Sacher.
“This class of 2021 will have an inner strength not seen since those who graduated in the challenging times of the Second World War,” said Sacher.
“While it may not have felt like a gift to have endured 16 months of a global pandemic, it is all around you that on the inside you are stronger and you take that with you.”
CESD trustee Melissa Copley said, “Take the time to contemplate what you have done and where you are going. Just participating and trying again will give you the best outcomes. You will do amazing things and I wish you all the best in the next chapters of your lives.”
Town of Carstairs councillor Marty Ratz said, “Whatever path you choose, I want to wish you success on that path and congratulate you on a job well done.”
George Thompson is the principle of Hugh Sutherland.
“You have faced life challenges that have been very difficult, but you have all gained tremendous resilience, fortitude and skill, and I know as you go forward you will not give up,” said Thompson.
“You will take learnings from these circumstances and you will be successful as you head into your future.”
Video-tapped messages of congratulations from Red Deer-Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper were also played during the graduation ceremony.
The graduation event saw the presentation of awards and scholarships.
The masters of ceremony were Laura Lee Hrabok and Dean Nielsen.