By Liz Bevan
J.L. Crowe Secondary School’s 177 graduates walked across the stage on Friday night, symbolizing the end of high school and the beginning of something new.
One by one, the grads were given their diplomas and scholarships as parents, friends and family hooted and hollered from the stands in the Cominco Arena.
Friday’s cap and gown ceremony kicked off J.L. Crowe grad weekend as each graduate was given their diploma, had their tassel moved to the other side of their caps and got a chance to share the end of their public school journey with their loved ones and peers.
This year’s valedictorian, Jacob Verhelst, commended the graduates on their perseverance over the last five years, and looked towards the future, asking the students to remain “unconquerable.”
“A wise person once said, live in the present, the past has its lessons that you have learned and is long gone. So leave it behind you and focus on the future that you have in front of you,” he told the crowd.
“There will be times when it seems like the world is against us. When our well-thought-out plans can change, where the task seems impossible, but we have learned to adapt. Our paths to our goals may not be clear straight lines. That is why we need to believe in ourselves. We have to remember to be bold and unconquerable.”
He put on a pair of neon-coloured sunglasses and in closing, told his fellow graduates, in the words of singer Lady Gaga, “Do not allow people to dim your shine because they are blinded. Tell them to put on some sunglasses.”
His inspirational message was complemented by this year’s guest speaker, Alysha Baker and her words of experience and advice.
She graduated from J.L. Crowe in 2008 and is now a PhD candidate in forensic psychology at the University of British Columbia at only 24 years old. Her message to grads promoted the value of hard work and focus, encouraging them to follow their goals, and put in the necessary effort.
“As I look back, I couldn’t help by think that I have always been working and I don’t mean it in the aimless and mindless sense of doing work,” she told the grads looking back on her path to where she is now. “Every stage in my life I was always working towards something. Working hard and being focussed is key in ensuring success, regardless of context.
“Although I am fairly smart, I am nowhere near the smartest kid in the class – not even top five – but I worked hard to be competitive in every aspect of my life with those who were naturally talented.”
Baker told the grads that there was nothing stopping them from being as successful as they wanted to be, as long as the put in that hard work.
Once the speeches were finished, the scholarships handed out and the diplomas distributed, the J.L. Crowe graduating class of 2015 threw their caps in the air in the graduation tradition as the audience whistled and clapped for the end of their high school careers.