ESTEVAN - This year’s graduation celebration for the Estevan Comprehensive School brought together some traditional elements and a relatively new favourite concept.
For the first time since 2019, ECS was able to have a conventional cap-and-gown ceremony, which was held at Affinity Place. The graduates were joined by thousands of people who gathered at the events centre for the milestone.
Festivities opened, as they typically do, with the procession of the grads. O Canada was performed by Grade 12 band students.
Cole Blondeau and Hannah Terrett delivered the tribute to the parents. They talked about the sacrifices that parents have made to help the graduates reach this point in their lives.
Student representative council co-presidents Katherine Ostrander and Devangi Rabari were tasked with saluting the teachers. They applauded the staff for their commitment to kids and their profession.
ECS principal Nathan Johnson wished the best of luck to the grads in his speech.
“This traditional ceremony is a wonderful way to celebrate the accomplishment our grads have achieved in leaving high school,” said Johnson. “I will say you have had a very interesting experience for your high school years.”
There was the “strange” end to Grade 10 when COVID-19 forced the students to shift to online learning, and they have adjusted to uncertainty during their Grade 11 and 12 years.
“Be proud of yourselves. Making it to this point is a wonderful accomplishment,” said Johnson.
Many of the graduates will embark on post-secondary education, while others will enter the workforce. He hopes the grads are ready for anything.
“The leadership of this class is impressive over the years. We have athletic leaders, academic leaders, club leaders and leaders of the student representative council. In so many ways, you have made our school a better place. In a short amount of time, you have put your mark on ECS with your many contributions.”
Ismail Kamel was this year’s valedictorian with a 99.78 per cent average in his classes this year. “All the graduates and I are only here due to the unparalleled support that this community has provided through its various exceptional members,” said Kamel.
They have navigated constant and unexpected changes, such as moving between in-person and online schooling, and the cancellation of extracurricular clubs. They missed out on a lot of the things previous classes did. And there was the constant worry of contracting COVID-19, or worse yet, infecting their loved ones.
Physical and mental health were constantly threatened by the instability, he said.
“I always find myself thinking of the undeniable resilience and perseverance that we hold as a school community. Today, we’re able to stand here gracefully because we stood together. We all need each other. And it’s become clearer than ever that our resilience comes from being united as a community. It comes from those moments where we leaned on our peers, teachers and families.”
He encouraged his fellow grads to think of each other, help each other out and be kind.
Diplomas were presented to all the grads. Future plans were read out for each student.
Once the ceremony was finished, the Class of 2022 and many others gathered for another traditional highlight – the grad photo in front of the Estevan Court House. The students were dressed in their finest attire for the picture, and they also posed for photos with family and friends.