Graduation day is a big thing at any high school, but it takes on extra significance at a school like Two Rivers Education Centre (TREC).
Seven students crossed the stage at Hope’s Grace Baptist Church on Wednesday, June 8, achieving something that perhaps they never thought they’d achieve. Their years-long journey to that moment was filled with obstacles that may have led others to throw up their hands and say ‘Enough’s enough. I can’t do this.’
But these students didn’t quit. They fought through everything to earn their ‘Dogwood Diploma,’ and they now head out into the world as high school graduates.
The commencers from TREC are Daniel Barnes, Tianna Glasgow, Miranda Goodwin, Colten Preston, Kylene Rosen and Michael Saulnier.
Kyle Chapple and Joseph Fitzpatrick are commencers from Fraser Cascade Continuing Education and David Finnson, who was absent, is moving on from Fraser Cascade Online Learning.
All of them leave behind a very proud principal, Margaret Smiley.
“It is a proud day,” she said. “Knowing how much it took for these kids to get here, I am incredibly proud.”
For whatever reason, it didn’t work out for these students in the ‘regular’ school system.
When they arrived at TREC, the first thing they had to do was trust Smiley and the school’s teachers.
“It’s not something that comes easily. It’s not something that they’re used to doing, but they have to trust us,” Smiley said. “And when they do, it leads to a day like this.”
In one way it’s the end of a journey, but it’s also an important first step.
“You pretty much have to have your high school graduation to do anything that’s not going to kill you labour wise,” Smiley said. “I’d say probably half of them are going to do post-secondary within the next year or two, and the others will be working to make money for post-secondary. They all have the ability to do some more schooling, and I trust they will.”
Goodwin was awarded the District/Authority scholarship while Daniel Barnes and Michael Saulnier each received Fraser Cascade Teachers’ Association bursaries.
Kylene Rosen won the Jim Sinclair Legacy award.
For Smiley, who spent the majority of her career in the ‘brick and mortar’ school system before taking on her role at TREC, seeing the kids (and one young adult) buy in, work hard and receive their diplomas is a moment she puts on par with having a first child.
“But this is not my first child. This is my 15th and again, I’m so incredibly proud knowing what it took to get here,” she said. “I know about some of the disadvantages that some of our kids have had, but this is where that ends.”