Manitoulin Secondary School celebrates graduating class of 2018

The traditional throwing of caps as the 2018 graduation ceremony comes to a close. photos by Lori Thompson

M’CHIGEENG––Family and friends gathered at Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) on June 28 to celebrate and congratulate the Class of 2018. Students have worked hard over the past four or five years and graduation was a night for their achievement to be recognized and honoured.

Emcees Shan Keatley and Mike Zegil, both MSS teachers, welcomed parents, family and guests. An honour guard (OPP Sgt. Mike Patterson, Constable Steve Redmond, Community Safety Officer Marie Ford and piper Rebecca MacDonald) led in the procession of graduates. Following the singing of O Canada, Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) First Nations Trustee Grace Fox offered a prayer and congratulations for the graduating class.

Other guests and speakers on stage this year included MSS Vice Principal Jonathan Bird, Director of Education Norm Blaseg, RDSB Chair Doreen Dewar and MSS Principal Jamie Mohamed.

Chair Dewar thanked MSS staff and families before offering words of wisdom in the form of story. “For the past four years, the staff at MSS has devoted countless hours in providing you with the wisdom to make good decisions, the academic knowledge on which to base your decisions and the strength of character with which to make the right decisions. Your visions have been their missions and on behalf of the RDSB I thank them,” she said.

“Your parents, family and friends have been beside you and for their support, the board thanks them,” continued Chair Dewar. “They are to be congratulated as they share in the pride and accomplishment that we all celebrate tonight.”

“Once, there was a King who received a gift of two magnificent peregrine falcons, the most beautiful birds he had ever seen. He gave the precious birds to his head falconer to be trained. After several months the falconer informed the king that while one of the falcons was flying majestically, soaring high in the sky, the younger bird had not moved from his branch since the day it had arrived.

The king summoned healers and sorcerers but no one could make the bird fly. Having tried everything else the king thought to himself, ‘Maybe I need someone more familiar with birds to understand the nature of the problem.’ A farmer was quickly located and he agreed to try to get the falcon to fly. The very next day the king was surprised and thrilled to see the second falcon soaring high above the palace gardens. The farmer came and stood before the king and the king asked, ‘how did you make that falcon fly?’ With his head bowed the farmer said, ‘It actually was very easy. I simply cut the branch on which the bird was perched.’

MSS Mustangs, we are all made to fly, to realize our incredible potential as human beings. But sometimes we sit on our branches clinging to the things that are familiar to us. As you receive your diploma, be proud of what you have accomplished here at MSS. You have fulfilled the requirements for an Ontario Secondary School Diploma and you have learned many life lessons along the way. Graduates of the class of 2018, MSS is an experience that will stay with you forever. But don’t stop here. In the days, months and years ahead, I challenge each of you to move off the comfortable branch that you may be clinging to. And like the falcon you too can fly as high as your dreams will take you. Congratulations,” she said.

Principal Mohamed also offered his congratulations to the graduating students and commended them on their achievements.  “Today is the end of one chapter of your life and the beginning of another,” he said. “Today is when you leave behind your childhood ways and step into the shoes of adulthood. Today is above all a day for celebrating your accomplishments. Today is a day when you can say, ‘I did it! I graduated.’”

“When you leave here today you will also be leaving behind a part of your life that was special,” he continued. “You’ll be leaving behind friends who shared your laughter. You’ll be leaving behind teachers who took a keen interest in you. You’ll be leaving behind a world where, in many cases, someone else made decisions for you. From now on you will have to make your own choices. That means you’ll be making some mistakes. Of course that also means you’ll be learning from some of those at the same time.”

“Your friends and family, they still care about you. Greatly, of course. If you were wise, you would listen to their advice. They have, after all, been around a few blocks, a few blocks more than you have, and they know a thing or two.  Now obviously, I can’t let you leave here this morning without giving you a few words of advice, so today I will tell you to take care of your bodies. They need to last you a long time. Get lots of exercise and fresh air. Speaking of which, do recycle and reuse because the world is running out of resources.”

“Today I’ll ask you to remember that strangers are only friends you have yet to know. Make friends wherever you go because they will enrich your life. Having said that, of course, the best friends of all are those you have shared these few years with, so do keep in touch with your classmates. Make time in your lives for others too. There is a great need for generous, caring people in our society.”

“Always remember to do your best at your work but do not let it come between you and a reason for living. Find the thing that you are most passionate about and wherever possible, live it. Try to make your passion your life’s work. Regardless, keep making that thing that you love a part of your life everyday.”

“Make time to help local groups and charities. By doing so you will enrich your own lives. Maybe you see a need or a want in society. If so, don’t wait for others to do something about it, do it yourself. Whatever you do or wherever you go, always remember that you are a past student of Manitoulin Secondary School. Today we are sending you out, young men and women filled with enthusiasm and hope. All the advice (and people are going to give you advice), it comes down to this: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum.”

“Graduates,” concluded Principal Mohamed, “tonight is finally your night. I’m proud of you. I wish you the best for the next phase of your journey. My hope is that you’ll continue to educate your mind, body and spirit.”

Following an honour song by Aundeck Omni Kaning women’s hand drum group, diplomas were presented by Director Blaseg with Vice Principal Bird and Principal Mohamed with Chair Dewar.

Mr. Zegil introduced class valedictorian James Scott to much laughter.  “Inspired by faith, family and friends, James has achieved a balance in managing life’s priorities: family, friends, church, sports and school,” noted Mr. Zegil.  “After working this summer at Camp Aush-Bik-Koong bible camp James will head to Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario to study a four-year program in health sciences.

“During his high school career James has proven his zeal to academic excellence by consistently earning top marks in most of his classes and has earned the Manitoulin Transport award for academic excellence on two separate occasions. While at MSS James has also participated and excelled at numerous sports including 3-pitch, cross country, volleyball, skiing, basketball, track and field and badminton, to name a few. His athleticism has been shown in his participation in OFSAA on nine different occasions.”

“Other noteworthy accomplishments James has managed to fit into his schedule have been the lead role as Jud Fry in the school play, Oklahoma, as well as the lead role in the play, Once Upon a Mattress. Make way for your class valedictorian, James Scott.”

After being presented with a valedictorian plaque, James took to the podium. “You guys are probably wondering how did a ginger celiac rapper end up as valedictorian,” he began. “Well, the last four years of my life may have lacked gluten but have contained fantastic memories and great friends and I’m really thankful to be here. It’s a great honour to be here. Also I’m here because I told these kids at lunch that if they voted me in, I would make a box and they could put in their suggestions (for best memories) and I would give them a shout out in the valedictorian speech. Predictably 57 percent of the suggestions were not acceptable. Out of all that, we’ve got ten.” Lots of laughter and knowing nods ensued as James proceeded to reveal the ten memories.

“I’m going to try to pass on a little bit of wisdom,” he continued. “It’s been awesome being part of the Mustang herd with all of you. Whether you choose to continue your education, whether you become a Griffon, a Panther, a Voyageur, or whatever, I would encourage you to get involved. Take part in clubs, intramurals and social events. Live your life and make fantastic memories in the process. Be bold and make the most of the opportunities that arise for you. For those of you who are joining the work force right away: run wild, live free, love strong. You and me and everyone else here are excited to see you guys grow and reach your potentials as you join the field. I hope that whatever all of you do in the future, that it will bring you joy and that you all do the best with your God-given capabilities, because the world needs more Manitoulin Islanders. I would like to close off by giving a big thanks to staff, parents and everyone else involved for giving us a great four years at MSS. So thank you so much for all your hard work and to the graduating class of 2018, I say this: Mustangs, keep it real.”

Members of the 2018 Manitoulin Secondary School graduating class are: Shanelle Abbott, Brooke Addison, Brandon Anwhatin-Lewis, Grant Assinewai, Trevor Bailey, Cheyenne Barnes, Steffen Barnes, Olivia Behm, Brandon Boyle, Nathan Bush, Jackson Carr, Jennifer Case, Chandler Clarke, Hannah Corbiere, Savannah Corbiere, Alayna Cranston, Daryl Dakin, Brandon Debassige, Kyle Debassige, Shelly Deforge, Clay Dickson, Tyler Disley, Bryce Draper, Grace Duncanson, Dillon Dunlop, Maggie Eadie, Brett Ense, Cole Foster, Jacob Genereux, Mason Golder, Isaac Gosse, Alyssa Green, Morgan Hall, Ashlyn Hare, Nicholas Harper, Carissa Holliday, Tyler Hore, Ezra Hovi, Kendra Jordison, Zackery Kategiannis, Jonah Kennedy, Cassandra Kuntsi, Denver Leeson, Matthew Lockhart, Benjamin MacDonald, Victoria MacDonald, Bryce Mack, Miranda MacKay, Jess Madahbee, Madison Madahbee, Delaney Madore, Alex Martin, Jacob Maxwell, Madisen McAllister, Gregory McGauley, Jadah McGraw, Dustin McKenzie, Niihge McLeod, Sam Middleton, Cassie Moggy, Megan Moore, Nekoma Naokwegijig, Marley Neill, Karly Newton, Joshua Noble, Mikayla Noble, Eric Orford, Emily Patterson, Lyric Peltier, Jaidyn Quinlan, Darrion Robinson, Milana Sabzali, Audrey Sampson, James Scottt, Patrick Smith, Patrick Snowdon, Carter Stoneypoint, Matthew Swihart, Joel Trudeau, Hannah Tustian, Joe Van Kesteren, Bethany Wesno, Alicia Williamson, Chandler Yaschuk-Middaugh and Christian Young. Rachel McDowell, Emily Moggy, Carly Murphy-Rankin and Alex White were awarded a Certificate of Accomplishment.