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PHOTOS: Two Rivers Education Centre celebrates 2023 graduating class

Seven graduates received Dogwood diploma

Graduation day is here for Two Rivers Education Centre’s (TREC), allowing five of their seven hardworking graduates to be recognized for the journey they took to reach this day.

The 2023 graduating class — Christine Edwards, Cole Livesey, Damian Gooding, Isabella Marlatt, Katerina Enns, Riley McCreight (who was not present) and Quintin Cripps (who was not present) — bore proud smiles as they accepted their Dogwood diplomas on Wednesday morning (June 7). The five commencers crossed the stage at Hope’s Grace Baptist Church in a ceremony witnessed by their loved ones — and perhaps feeling a mix of emotions as their accomplishments were recognized. they were recognized for overcoming obstacles that might make others throw in the towel.

The principal of TREC Jacob Cowan, with a smile just as big as the graduates’ families and friends, said he was incredibly proud of the students for refusing to give up and making sure that, regardless of why they came to TREC (and why the “regular” school system may not have worked out for them), they put in the work, and determination, to receive their diplomas.

“It’s funny that we’re focusing on the end but it’s the start of a new beginning,” said Jacob Cowan, the principal of TREC. “These guys are commencing on their next journey after today. “I’ve known these students for a really long time. And I’ve watched these guys grow up a lot this year, and some of them from a time before that. It’s a great pleasure to see them off for their next stages in their journey here.”

It was a celebration and the mood of both the audience and graduates reflected that tears, laughter, and good natured ribbing was shared among everyone. The respect and love between the students and the staff at TREC was clear as day as the graduates felt comfortable speaking to Cowan, interrupting to “add” information that the principal may have missed in his speech, or playfully teasing him as he spoke — which Cowan took in stride and even added some teasing of his own.

The convocation, which opened with a drumming ceremony headed by Justin Kelly (a member of Shxw’owhámél First Nation) also allowed more flexibility than traditionally expected. This was seen with Livesey playing guitar while his fellow graduates walked onto the stage (and accidentally causing the instrument to go off key when he dropped it, much to the amusement of everyone).

During the ceremony, both Marlatt and Edwards were awarded the Jim Sinclair Legacy Award, amounting to $5000, and the Fraser Cascade Teachers Association Bursary.

The convocation also had the presence (at least in spirit) of TREC’s former principal, Margaret Smiley. While Smiley was unable to attend the commencement (due to a family emergency), she did send her speech — describing the qualities of each graduate — to Cowan to read aloud (causing more tears and laughter to flow).

In her speech, she described Marlatt as an excellent student, a big sister to everyone, highly artistic, and an excellent writer.

She described Edwards as a student who interviewed her, rather than the other way around, and that she is sweet natured, artistic, and helpful to all around her.

Both Marlatt and Edwards were also the recipients of the Jim Sinclair Legacy Award, amounting to $5000, and the Fraser Cascade Teachers Association Bursary.

Smiley went on to describe Enns and said she was struck by the graduate’s maturity and sense of purpose. She went on to add that Enns’ is extremely caring, artistic, empathetic, and as a true lover of animals.

She described Gooding as a the “dad of the classroom,” known for his willingness to offer support to his fellow peers. She said staff will remember him for the tech support he gave to the community of TREC.

And finally, she described Livesey as the “music man” as he was always singing. She said he will be remembered for his ability to bring people together and for his willingness to help others.

In addition to Cowan and Smiley, the graduating class also heard speeches/life advice from Superintendent Balan Moorthy, and School District 78 trustee Linda Kerr.

“As the graduates of 2023, I bet there were times as you were going through this school that you were frustrated in your life,” Kerr said. “But the key to accomplishing your goals is perseverance. And that’s what it took for you to get here today.

“If you are receptive today to some advice, here’s one piece I will offer you. When you’re faced with an obstacle look for the opportunity it presents to get around it, over it, or under it. Stick with a problem till you’ve figured out a way to conquer it. And every time you do this, you will have a little more grit, your self discipline will be a little bit stronger for it, and your spine will stand a little bit sturdier.”

“Pretty soon you will become one of those adults that other people will admire. I see before me a group of people who perhaps have already grappled with struggles along this way. So, I see a group who will take the experiences they gained at this wonderful school of Two Rivers Community Centre and make the community proud.

“All the people in this building have confidence in you. So, on behalf of everyone in the Board of Education, I offer you best wishes for a long, productive, and fulfilling life.”

Kemone Moodley

About the Author: Kemone Moodley

I began working with the Hope Standard on August 2022.
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