Hard work pays off for St. Mary grads

A few St. Mary graduates and staff pose for a photo during the awards portion of Wednesday’s graduation ceremony at the Art Hauser Centre. -- Herald file photo.

After years of early mornings, late evenings, exams and road trips, school is out for the St. Mary High School graduating class of 2017.

A total of 186 graduates walked across the stage to receive their high school diplomas on Wednesday. For some, like St. Mary valedictorian Luke Wandzura, it was a happy but surreal moment.

“It’s hard to believe that after four years it’s finally over,” he said. “I’m just trying to live in the moment and enjoy it as it happens, because it only happens once.”

In addition to being named valedictorian, Wandzura also received the Governor General’s Medal, which came as a welcome surprised and unexpected honour.

During his valedictorian speech, he urged his fellow classmates to be proud of their accomplishment, since graduating high school isn’t always a guarantee.

Wandzura also added that he’ll miss being on the court with the St. Mary volleyball and basketball teams, memories of which he’ll take with him everywhere he goes.

“I’ll definitely look back on it for the rest of my life with nothing but fondness. Those are some of my best memories,” he said, adding that he hopes to suit up for the University of Saskatchewan Huskie’s men’s volleyball team next fall.

The Class of 2017 chose “To be the hands of Christ” as their grad theme this year.

St. Mary Principal Mark Phaneuf said he thought it was an appropriate choice for this year’s class, who he called “very inclusive” in their approach to every day life.

“We live in a world today where we don’t spend enough time helping everyone around us, and they’re making a promise to themselves to go out and be those hands of Christ to others,” he said. “I just couldn’t be more proud of this group than I am right now.”

During his final speech to the Class of 2017, Phaneuf encouraged graduates to continue to be themselves, regardless of what obstacles are thrown in their way. Like Bishop Albert Thevenot, who used his address to speak about being salt and light, Phaneuf urged his students to continue to serve and be active in their communities. It’s something he’s confident they’ll excel at.

“They’re a beautiful group of kids and they have so much to offer.”

@kerr_jas • jason.kerr@paherald.sk.ca