Grade 12 students at Summerland Secondary School received their high school diplomas on the morning of June 28.
The ceremony was held in the gym at the high school, but because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it was limited to the 104 graduating students and the teachers and other presenters.
Alan Stel, principal of Summerland Secondary School, spoke about the challenges the students have faced as a result of the pandemic, but said there have been some benefits from the experience.
“The fact that we have spent so much time apart may have ironically brought us closer together,” he said.
“All of this alone time has made us realize we have a lot of work to do, and that we are dependent on one another.”
He said the pandemic has helped to prepare the students for their future.
“Optimize your potential, and yes, I believe COVID prepared you to take over and care for the world,” he said.
Valedictorians Patrick Geertz and Jashan Saran described their Grade 12 experience under COVID-19 protocols as “a train wreck.”
However, they said the community showed them support during the past year and throughout their school experiences.
“The people, such as our guardians, bosses and teachers, have all taught us valuable skills which will serve us well our whole life,” Geertz said.
Saran said the pandemic has taught the students perseverance as they coped with the restrictions and limitations as a result of COVID-19.
“I think the key phrase for our grad class this year was perseverance,” he said.
“We’re just a group of hopeful dreamers, dreaming and hoping for things to go back to some semblance of normal.”
He added that the students have learned skills that will help then in the rest of their lives.
“We know that each one of you, wherever you may go in the future, will persevere and succeed, because that is who we are.”
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