On June 29, 62 beaming students accepted their diplomas at the Fernie Memorial Arena, signifying their graduation from Fernie Secondary School. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Fernie Secondary grads shooting for the stars

A full house of family, friends and relatives gathered at the Fernie Memorial Arena on June 29, to watch the next generation of youth step into the shoes of adulthood.

The graduation class from Fernie Secondary School was comprised of 62 beaming students, who walked onto the stage to accept their certificates of accomplishment.

Mr. Frank Lento of the Board of School Trustees was first to congratulate the students.

“The most important footprint you will leave, is the impact your life has, or can have, on other lives. This is your time,” he said. “Follow your gut, follow your heart. Do what you love, love what you do.”

Next, Honourable Mayor Mary Giuliano congratulated students on behalf of the City of Fernie and Council. She spoke about how the past years have been instrumental in their lives, and that they will soon leave the land of familiarity.

“You learn to find answers to very important questions,” said Giuliano. “Such as, what encourages you? What influences you? What motivates you? What provokes you? And what inspires you?

“As you face challenges down the road, face them with your head held high.”

Special guest, Director of Instruction Jason Tichauer of School District #5 was next to take the stage.

This year marks his 30th reunion since he graduated high-school. Thinking back, he became nostalgic. He remembered that teachers required him to have a life plan, and that there was a section in the yearbook dedicated to listing what they would accomplish in their lives.

“The advice I’d like to give you graduates, today, 30 years later, is to avoid that life plan.

Tichauer spoke to how the students cannot possibly foresee the opportunities that may present themselves in the future. He said that the U.S. Department of Labour estimated that graduates of last year will have 10 employers by the time they are 30. He also spoke to the unpracticality in training youth for jobs that may not even exist yet.

“The ability to think creatively, will have you forge your own plan. You may go to engineering school wanting to build bridges, but you may end up building windmills,” he said.

Tichauer left listeners with the wise words of Ellen Degeneres.

“Always follow your own path. Unless you’re lost in the woods then dammit don’t be stupid, take the path,” he said.

Principal Linda Christenson then addressed the crowd. She acknowledged that the graduating class of 2017 was intelligent, diverse, and motivated.

After graduates were presented with diplomas and scholarships, Fynley Kuijt gave her valedictory address.

“Life, is a process of trial and error,” she said. “Try to do something that makes you happy.”

“Parents, I’m sure that some of you thought this day would never come, that we would be your little kids forever… We do appreciate all you have done for us,” said Kuijt.

“Grads of 2017, you people have been my world for the past 13 years, longer even. And as much as I am sad to say goodbye to seeing you in the halls of Fernie Secondary every day, I know that all of us are ready for what comes next.”