It’s taken long days and hard work, but for the more than 50 Wesmor Public High School students who walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, it was all worth it.
Wesmor bid a fond farewell to the Class of 2019 in an enthusiastic ceremony at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Tuesday. The journey hasn’t been an easy one, but graduates like valedictorian Julianna Pitzel say that’s what made the final day so sweet.
“I’m just really proud to be graduating,” a beaming Pitzel said following the ceremony. “It’s been a long journey. It’s full of a lot of difficulties that I faced throughout the school year, but I’m just so proud to be here with my class.”
Pitzel first enrolled at Wesmor last year. She was older than most of her classmates, but still looking to get her high school diploma. She’ll graduate a few months before she turns 20, with awards and recognition she never expected.
She’s already registered for classes with the University of Saskatchewan next fall, and she credits Wesmor with helping her get there.
“It’s taught me to overcome a lot of adversity, that I can keep pushing through and achieve my goals, that everything is worth it in the end,” she explained. “I’m really going to cherish the lessons of hard work, effort (and) determination that it took to get here.”
Pitzel isn’t the only graduate who overcame challenges to get their diploma. She was inspired by the strength her classmates showed during the school year, and encouraged by the school’s strong and diverse community.
She gave a shout-out to all her First Nations and Métis classmates during her speech, which drew loud applause from those in attendance.
“I think that it’s a highly misconceived school,” Pitzel said. “I think a lot of people have, maybe, stereotypes and misconceptions about the school. I know I didn’t fully appreciate it until I came here either. Like I said in my speech, there are so many strong people … and they all stick it out to graduate too. I’m just inspired by their strength.”
That strength and diversity is what Wesmor staff will remember about the Class of 2019. Principal Gina Sinoski said they’ve tried in install a spirit of reconciliation in the student body. She hopes Wesmor grads, regardless of their ethnicity, will remember they’re all treaty people, and work towards creating communities where everyone feels welcome.
“I am proud of all their hard work (and) all their perseverance,” Sinoski said. “Some of our students have rough roads to travel, but they get themselves to school every day because they see this as a goal, and they are going to make our community better in the future.”