Over $93,000 in scholarships was collectively awarded to Hope Secondary School’s (HSS) graduates, once again entirely from the community.
Due to the generosity of over 48 local businesses, organizations, service clubs, families, private foundations, and HSS’s own bursaries, twenty students received scholarships to help them continue their education either in the trades or academics. This included the awards given by the Fraser Cascades District Trades program, which was given to four students and ranged from $4000 to $6000, and the William H. Scott Award (HSS’s “Our Student of the Year Award”) which was given to one of the two valedictorians, Mackenzie Demmitt.
“Mr. Scott was a teacher at Hope Secondary who encourage excellence in a variety of ways,” said Erin Wilkins, HSS’s counsellor and Leadership advisor. “In memory of Mr.Scott, staff at Hope Secondary selects a student who best represents these qualities that Mr. Scott himself encouraged. Leadership, participation in student affairs, and academic success.”
The scholarships were officially handed out during HSS’s 2023 convocation which took place last Saturday (June 3) at the school at noon. Though each organization developed their own criteria for a successful recipient, scholarships were predominantly awarded based either on community involvement, academic achievements, future academic endeavours, and financial need.
With the convocation opening to a drumming ceremony, fifty students walked the stage and received their dogwood diplomas — officially becoming the school’s 2023 graduates and leaving many of their loved ones smiling, crying, and beaming with pride over their accomplishments. Of course, family members and friends weren’t the only ones with tears in their eyes as many of the graduates found themselves struggling to maintain their composure.
“We are honoured and a little terrified to be your valedictorians of the graduating class this year,” Demmitt said, who had to pause to wipe away her tears. “We may have a smaller grad class than many schools in bigger cities, but that does not make our accomplishments any less meaningful. For most of the students on this stage, we have been going to school together since kindergarten. It is bittersweet that we got the chance to both start and end our school experiences together.
“It is important to remember that as we move forward our journey doesn’t end in high school, it is just another stop along the way. Whether you choose to go to university, take a gap year, or join the workforce, there will always be a new path to take or a new opportunity to seize. No matter what you decide to do after school, we all have a tremendously unique path ahead of us. It is up to you to decide where this path will take you.”
Demmitt, along with fellow valedictorian Emma Miller, spoke to their fellow graduates about their experiences in high school together (many of the graduates have been in school together since kindergarten), and the upcoming challenges they may face as they leave the district for bigger and better things.
“As we continue to move forward on our journey through life, we will never forget the power of unity, companionship, and perseverance. The Class of 2023 has already accomplished amazing things, and we do not have a speck of doubt in our minds that we will continue to do so.” Miller said. “From the moment we stepped through the doors all we wanted to do was fast forward through the journey to arrive at one of the most important destinations in our life. And as we focus on the destination we lose sight of the things that bring us pure joy.
“To everyone gathered here today and to our classmates, we urge you to cherish the little things like lunch with your friends, days with substitute teachers, pin drop silence and the sound of your best friend’s laughter. We encourage you to live in the present and enjoy the moments with your friends and family before many of us go on to the new exciting chapters of our lives.”
In addition to the speeches given by Demmitt and Miller, graduates also heard from Mayor Victor Smith, Chawathil First Nation Chief Chetlámetleqw Norman Florence, School District 78 trustee Linda Kerr, Superintendent Balan Moorthy, and Shxw’owhámél Elder Mike Kelly.
The convocation concluded with a drumming ceremony, along with a dance performed by Kelly’s grandchildren, before the graduates did the celebratory cap toss to officially mark the end of their high school years.