Chamber Corner: Grad is a valued summer tradition

Last Friday morning I had the opportunity to attend an annual rite of passage in our community.

Christine Petkau  poses with Taylor Arkesteyn

Christine Petkau poses with Taylor Arkesteyn

Christine Petkau is the manager of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.

Last Friday morning I had the opportunity to attend an annual rite of passage in our community – the Summerland Secondary School graduation of the Class of 2015.

Grad provides an impressive snapshot of Summerland every June when more than 1,000 people from toddlers to grandparents gather at the arena to cheer on the youth of our community as they transition to an adult world.

As the 95 graduates came forward to accept their diplomas from Principal Chris Vanbergeyk, the audience learned something about each student.  We were told what they enjoyed about high school, who had inspired them and where they are going in the next phase of life.  Future careers mentioned were engineer, lawyer, animator, electrician, welder, veterinarian, nurse, foreign aid worker, tattoo artist, early education specialist, historian, winery owner, air conditioning, business administration, culinary arts, and scholar, as well as many others.

Students expressed their appreciation to their families but just as often they mentioned their teachers.  We have a dedicated and talented teaching group at SSS (as well as at our elementary and middle schools) and this means a great deal to all our local students.  It’s also important when we are promoting our community as a great place to live.  School District 67 Board Chair, Linda Van Alphen, mentioned that SSS has all the advantages of a private school education within the public system offering small classes and individualized attention.

Once diplomas were handed out, it was time for bursaries and scholarships.  Summerland is often recognized in the valley as being the community who gives the most per graduate of any school.  This year was no exception with awards totaling approx. $86,000 being given out – some for academic excellence and others based on community participation, athletic achievement or future goals.  Graduates will find those funds helpful as they pursue the next chapter in their lives.

The graduates, families and friends, teachers, administrators, dignitaries, award presenters and community members who were present today are a representation of what makes Summerland a wonderful place to grow up in and to live.  The town will be in good hands with these amazing young people leading us in the future.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at or our chamber president, Kelly Marshall, at