After four years of contending with the ups and downs of high school life, 155 students from R.D. Parker Collegiate officially crossed the finish line June 26 at the C.A. Nesbitt Arena.
The school’s 2019 graduation ceremony featured the usual pomp and circumstance that’s become synonymous with these celebratory events, including bombastic music, academic regalia and a slew of inspirational speeches.
RDPC principal Rob Fisher was one of the first dignitaries to speak on Wednesday night and talked at length about the sheer drive and intensity these graduates displayed in their final year, even when those characteristics were applied to questionable activities like wrapping his entire office in tinfoil.
“But Class of 2019, you know that you actually have shown these traits and qualities much of the time in your last four years here at R.D. Parker,” he said. “Whether it was in Grade 9 when you first joined us, in Grade 10 and Grade 11 when you continued to develop your character and find your way, or in this, your graduating year.”
Bruce Krentz provided graduates with a message on behalf of all their parents, which included some bite-sized pieces of advice that will hopefully come in handy during their post-high school lives.
“You will probably reinvent yourself many times in your life and that’s just fine,” he said. “Live your life to the fullest, however that looks to you. From jumping out of a plane to curling up in bed with a book … you do you.”
School District of Mystery Lake superintendent Angèle Bartlett used her time on the mic to remind these graduates about the unique challenges they will be facing in the future, obstacles that were a complete non-factor for people of her generation.
“You are born and educated in a technological world where any mistake that you make can be recorded and plastered out there for the world to see,” she said. “You’re burdened with things that my generation is only now starting to identify, like global warming, recycling, pollution, consumption of natural resources and saving our planet.”
During the ceremony’s Indigenous message, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee said that these young people will also be tasked with making a series of important choices that will define the rest of their lives.
“But one choice that you must make: choose not to be ordinary,” he said. “Choose to be extraordinary. Choose to be change makers. Choose to be game changers, because we need you. The future needs you.”
Right before RDPC staff presented all 155 students with their diplomas, class valedictorian Lala Rukh took to the stage and thanked the various teachers and family members who helped make this day possible.
Rukh also gave a shout-out to modern educational tools like Google, Wikipedia and Photomath for helping to cement the academic success of her peers.
In terms of what the future holds, the valedictorian said she is certain that every graduate in the audience will find their own way.
“We’re all going to move down separate paths, but let’s remember that there is no single definition of success,” said Rukh. “Because the truth is there is so much diversity and talent amongst us, I’m confident that every single individual right here is going to find a unique way to define their own success throughout life.”
Rukh capped off her speech on an optimistic note, harkening back to all the good times that she and her fellow RDPC students shared over the last four years and the opportunities that awaits them all moving forward.
“So graduates, I’d like to leave you guys with one final reminder: we get one life, we get just one, so love hard, live wild, fail often and laugh always,” she said. “But most importantly, always never forget the memories we made together as the grad class of 2019.”