Carlton Comprehensive High School in Prince Albert celebrated their graduation “Together Apart” with a video presentation on Friday, June 26. The video celebrated the accomplishments and successes of all 320 graduates at Carlton.
Valedictorians Bria Howden and Taylor Berge acknowledged the uniqueness of the situation because of the pandemic.
“I don’t know about you guys but high school flew by for us. This milestone marks the end. The end of our childhood, the end of seeing each other every day, the end of cafeteria hashbrowns for breakfast. COVID-19 brought the end of our high school sooner than we expected but it delivered our beginning as well. The beginning of summer, the beginning of adulthood, a further education and the beginning of new beginnings,” Berge said.
Howden and Berge opened by saying how proud they were to be chosen and how they may not know every graduate. They said that they spent the prior two weeks researching Valedictorian speeches on YouTube.
They also went through a series of numbers including “Two billion, 925 million, 458 thousand and 400,” which was how many seconds the grads spent in class “$100,003” which was the amount of money raised at the cancer fundraiser basketball game at Carlton in January, 320 being the number of graduates, , 10 being the years since March 20 when school was canceled, eight being semesters in high school, four being the Wifi networks that never work and “One”…
“Time in your life that you get to graduate high school from your couch” Howden said.
“Times that you imagined that it would be like this,” Berge said.
They then explained how time management was a skill they learned in high school.
“High school is the kind of place you enter decently socially awkward with a group of friends that you think you will be with throughout all four years. If you are anything like me and Bria, who are now leaving with the same amount of social awkwardness but a whole new group of friends that you know that you will keep in touch with for years to come,” Berge said.
Their number one piece of advice was to be kind.
“One piece of advice that we believe will help a lot moving forward is to be kind, be kind to your family, be kind to your friends and be kind when the absolute last thing you feel like doing is being kind. Holding grudges won’t get you anywhere, you will regret losing friends over them but you will never regret being kind,” Howden said.
They explained how important extracurricular activities including sports, arts and music are to the school.
“Do everything you do in good spirits, I know one of my favourite high school memories was dressing up as Tina from Bob’s Burgers and doing her iconic dance in front of the whole school, I won the competition by the way. Speaking of competition we would like to take a moment to acknowledge out school’s incredible sports program. Sports is where our passion laid and where we met our best friends. Sports taught us how to work hard, to think positive and to lose with dignity, the difference between losing and blaming it on the fact the ref sucked and losing with a smile knowing that you did the best you could,” Berge said.
They thanked coaches for all of their hard work and the many pieces of clothing they picked up along the way and acknowledged the school’s music program. They explained that they were giving the speech because they worked hard when things weren’t perfect.
“So now comes the famous last words, we did it, we graduated from high school, this is not what we envisioned graduation 2020 to be like. We all wanted to be together with our gowns throwing our caps in the air but sometimes in life more important things come up. Today the needs of our community outweigh our personal desires. Think of it this way we are the first class in history to have graduation like this, we are also the first class to take tests over Zoom, which is the only actual time we could show our face. Also props to you guys who finished your workshop classes at home. Even though this is not the grad we hoped for at least now you can find toilet paper in the grocery stores again,” Berge said.
They concluded by thanking things like the vending machines, teachers and the Frank Dunn Pool Staff for allowing the Carlton Cannonball Challenge. They thanked Principal Jeff Court for deciding it was a two-woman job.
“Thank you to all the parents who supported us as we grew up and to our friends for asking the dumb questions during class when nobody else wanted to. On a more serious note we would like to recognize how much Carlton teachers care for their students and made that evident by creating close relationships with us,” Howden said
“Be kind and if Carlton has taught you anything it is that…” Berge said.
“You matter,” both concluded.
Emcees for the video were Grade 10 students Rozlynn Gaudet and Stefani Pocha-Tait
The ceremony opened with the students being Drummed in by the Round Plain Juniors Drumming Group with the “Original Honour Song” and O Canada performed by various talented students.
Along with the Valedictorian address the video featured addresses from Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board chair Barry Hollick and Court.
“Today is a special day but not the kind of day you pictured when you started school last September,” Hollick said in his speech.
“The impact of the coronavirus epidemic on our education system was unimaginable for most of us. I want to commend the students, their parents and the Carlton staff for working together to bring about a successful conclusion to this important year in your lives. This has certainly been a year you would never forget for various reasons. I want to congratulate you for successfully completing your education at Carlton, you now have the opportunity to choose what path the future holds for you. I wish you every success in all of your future endeavours.”
Court thanked Howden and Berge to open his speech.
“Graduates, first I would like to congratulate you on today’s great achievement. This accomplishment has been in the works since before you started school. I am sure each of your families have fond memories as they nervously sent you off to your first day of kindergarten unsure if you were ready and nervous if you would get along with others. They quickly realized how ready you were,”
“My first message is before the end of the day make sure you tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them. They have spent a lot of time and care getting you to where you are today,” he said.
One common theme in the best memories of graduates was relationships according to Court.
He added that the staff cares about everyone and everyone is welcome at Carlton.
Diplomas were given earlier in June and the 320 graduates were broken into three groups in the video which had special teachers share favourite memories for each graduate along with their future plans.
Musical presentation included “Forever Young” by Lauren Williams and Bria Howden, “My Wish” by Brooke Andrews, “Hug All UR Friends” by Krysten McKay, “Six Feet Apart” Joshua Stumpf and a medley “Forever Country” by all of the performers the Carlton Ensemble to conclude the video.
The video also included a list of additional graduates who didn’t take part.