The 63 graduates at Wesmor Public High School celebrated their graduation in special ways because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Firstly, graduates were delivered their diplomas by staff on Wednesday, June 23 and then they had a virtual graduation ceremony on Monday evening.
“I know this isn’t the ceremony we imagined when we were going to graduate this year, 2020 has been a crazy and difficult time so far but we managed to get our grad photos done and even have this virtual ceremony. We have much to be thankful for here at Wesmor Public High School. We have received a great education thanks to the teachers and staff who go out of their way for us,” Valedictorian Shanice Beauchene said during her virtual address. She also thanked the daycare staff and others.
“All of the graduates want to thank their parents, families, support systems and friends you all have helped shape us into the people we see today. I can say with total confidence that you helped to shape us into better people. Without Wesmor I wouldn’t have this opportunity to be Valedictorian. Being at this school for the past three years I have had nothing but support and I am truly grateful for that,” she said.
Beauchene, who is from Muskoday, thanked the teachers, family and mentors at the school including her mentor Raven Felix. She also thanked the daycare staff and others.
“To my fellow graduates congratulations on getting this far and graduating. Even in this pandemic we have persevered and shown how dedicated we are to our education. From personal experience I know it wasn’t easy but with some resilience we made it. I just want to say it I am proud of us all and I wish nothing but the best for everyone in the future. Thank you again and I hope everyone is safe at this time,” Beauchene said.
On June 24 the staff went to each graduates home to deliver their diplomas including being greeted by fire trucks as they delivered diplomas to the students at Wahpeton.
“I was in a group that went to five people’s homes and when we got to homes their front yards were decorated, they had balloons and a small gathering of their family was there so they could be there because they are so proud of their kids and they got to share that with them so it was a great day,” Principal Gina Sinoski said.
Salutorian Devin Norburry addressed how much he accomplished because of attending Wesmor in his speech. He said the school did a great job around the pandemic, thanked the friends and family of graduates for pushing graduates to their goal.
“I also want to thank all of the teachers for all of the hard work they put into their roles as educators,” Norburry said.
Norburry explained that he had no idea what to say because he never envisioned himself as Salutatorian.
“I sometimes found school challenging and thought some information was outdated or irrelevant. Because of the stressful and chaotic environment we are in my goal was to get my diploma and get out. But as I matured I realized school wasn’t as terrible as I thought it was. I learned that school is how you make it out to be. If you always think you are going to have a bad day at school then guess what you will have a bad day at school it is all about the mindset you go in with,” Norburry said.
He thanked all of the teachers who personally affected his life saying that they know who they are. He left on a note to fellow students.
“And to all of the future graduates who are struggling to see the point of continuing just keep pushing through the last couple years you have left, you will not regret it. I would like to congratulate my fellow graduates and wish them well in all of their future endeavours,” Norburry said.
The emcee was Vice Principal Matt Bergen and in his introduction he focused on the important Indigenous relationship and being Treaty people.
“It is especially important to recognize the importance of this relationship during these uncertain times, While our time apart from each other helps us discover that we are all stronger together. Graduates I would like you to take a moment to reflect on your journey that led you here. Today marks a significant accomplishment in each of your lives. Take the time to look back at your journey and realize that when you get the opportunity to receive your diploma it marks an important moment in your life. It is a moment where you have given yourself real choice for your future. Your families, friends, teachers and caregivers are very proud of you,” he said.
Trustee Arne Lindberg brought greetings on behalf of the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division and his focus was how much students have achieved through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Your class is experiencing graduation unlike any class in known history. This global event is sure to shape us all and most importantly you. We are different people than we all were in February of this year. We can no longer take our schooling or social interactions for granted, our normal has been totally reshaped. This event is unprecedented and our collective reaction to the pandemic will eventually make us all better, stronger and more understanding,” he said.
He explained that everything has changed and everyone is learning and they have an incredible opportunity to learn.
“People have become more patient, calm, kind and even more-so now aware of their immediate surroundings and how they affect others in our circle. Your future is brand new and your ability to shape your dreams into reality has an almost unlimited opportunity ,” Lindberg said.
Lindberg said that the class is the leaders of tomorrow no matter what they pursue in life.
“Leadership comes in very many forms, each one of you has the potential to make a difference throughout the years. Seize opportunities that others may miss and strive to continually make positive change, strengthen your communities for present and future generations. Your time at Wesmor has served you well, you are well-equipped to meet and embrace the challenges and the opportunities of the real world thanks to the support of your teachers, families and friends,” Lindberg said.
The virtual awards were presented by teacher Tyler Kuzma.
The evening’s video concluded with Sinoski’s address to the students.
“As we virtually gather tonight to celebrate the graduating class of 2020 I imagine these exceptional young women and men in their homes or in their yards watching with the people they love the most
while still being guided by our province’s COVID protocols around safe physical distancing and public gatherings. We are living through a worldwide pandemic and all that comes with that reality which has impacted our graduates in a profound way,” she said.
She continued a school tradition and thanked people on behalf of the Class of 2020.
“In these extraordinary times we want to thank the parents, caregivers, community members, elders and Wesmor staff members who have supported these graduates along their journey through high school. Graduates you may not be able to see their faces but please know that we are filled with pride, joy and the firm belief that each and every one of you has the potential to impact our communities in constructive ways.”
She also explained other rituals of graduation that were lost because of COVID-19.
“Although these young people will miss walking across the stage, having their tassel moved from the right side to the left side or stopping to pose at the middle of the stage so that all of their family and the proud audience members can take their picture to mark this very, very well earned milestone. This graduating class is part of the world’s history, these exceptional young men and women have done what no other graduating class in the history of Wesmor have done,” she said.
Sinoski explained that this class is possibly the only one of its kind for working their way through the challenges in different ways to earn their credits to graduate.
“When our graduates reflect on their journey through high school they will know in their hearts they have the ability to make a difference in their community and age. These graduates are weathering a storm unlike any other in recent history. They want to be remembered as a graduating class that started a new decade instead they are becoming our hope for change,” Sinoski said.
She concluded by acknowledging the graduating classes original theme of Big City Dreams.
The video concluded with congratulations from staff and graduates before all 63 graduates’ future plans and thank you lists.