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Didsbury grads had 'quite an exciting ride'

Being class of 2020 'a medal of valour,' says valedictorian
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Didsbury High School Class of 2020 valedictorian Kelly Delong. Dan Singleton/MVP Staff

DIDSBURY – The Didsbury High School graduating class of 2020 proudly overcame many challenges over the years, including growing up in the aftermath of 9/11 and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic, valedictorian Kelly Delong said during Saturday’s graduation ceremony.

“We have had quite an exciting ride to say the least,” said Delong. “We’ve had a tough go of it, but I’m glad we had to struggle just that little bit more than everyone else because it made us into the strong people we are today.

“At this point we know for a fact that life is not able to beat us down. I’m also glad we struggled because that means we will appreciate the good times even more than other people.

“We are people who will never take success for granted nor the importance of support from friends and family. In this way I believe we are truly lucky people.”

She called the title Class of 2020 “a medal of valour.”

She commended parents, guardians and teachers for their efforts in support of the graduates over the years.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child, so just imagine how much work went into raising all 55 of us. Kudos to them,” she said.

The graduation cap and gown ceremony was in the Zion Evangerlical Missionary Church parking lot on Aug.29, with hundreds of friends and family watching from vehicles parked nearby and listening on the radio.

There are 55 students in this year’s graduating class, with the ceremony held outside as part of COVID-19 prevention measures.

In-person classes at all Alberta schools were halted in March and continued online. The graduation ceremony would have been held in June, but was delayed due to the pandemic.

Dignitaries at this year’s ceremony included local and school board officials, all of whom spoke about how well the class of 2020 handled the pandemic crisis.

Gord Kerr is a Chinook’s Edge School Division trustee.

“Graduates, your lives in this specific event (pandemic) will forever be tied to the numbers 2020,” said Kerr. “The year 2020 and COVID-19 will most certainly stand out and be a conversation starter and bring back many memories. What those memories can and will be will be determined by you.

“Don’t let the numbers 2020 be the conversation. Live a life and make choices that will turn the conversation back you, to the positive impact you can have around you and in essence to the world.”

Ray Hoppins spoke on behalf of the school division.

“What I have watched all of our youth do is make the best of it, and that gives me a lot of pride in our school system and in our communities,” said Hoppins. “Every generation has time where they have to roll up their sleeves and you’ve got a great education here in Didsbury. I encourage you to find a hero and do the best that you can.”

He also commended parents, guardians, teachers and staff for their efforts.

Garth Dagg is the principal of Didsbury High School.

“I’m asking you to have some trust in humanity and understand that what we are going through now is just a challenge that we will get through,” said Dagg.

“You should believe and plan for a positive future. The fact that you are facing these very pressures in life is the very reason you will become the diamonds in the future.”

With a few exceptions, all the graduates and dignitaries wore face coverings during the ceremony.

The ceremony concluded with a vehicle parade through the streets of Didsbury.