Grad Hits You in the Feels

Every year in June, like clockwork, it is an emotional time in the halls at Holy Redeemer as the students and staff begin to say goodbye to the grade 12 class they participate in Grad.

“Watching the students grow from being wide-eyed young grade 7 students to the young adults that they have now become is truly something,” says Principal Bill McGowan. “And to see everything come together so perfectly for their Grad is truly special.”

The HRH Grad took place on June 1st at Repsol Place. Coincidentally, this was the first day in a few days where Edson got a break away from the smoke from the surrounding wildfires making it a truly beautiful day.

The day began with the Graduation Ceremony where students wore their traditional cap and gowns to receive their high school diplomas. One by one, they took centre stage and shook McGowan’s hand, an honour that will be his last as Principal of HRH before his retirement at the end of the month. One student to receive a huge ovation was Adrian Ocampo. “Everyone just erupted in cheers,” says graduate Kathlyn Redlick. “It was so awesome.. It was hard not to get emotional” Graduate Lareesa Frizorguer said later that day that Adrian “made coming to school every day so awesome.” Needless to say, nothing could wipe the smile off young Adrian’s face.

Another main part of the Ceremony was the Light of Learning where students light a candle for a young family member in a spiritual way of passing knowledge from one to another.

The Ceremony also featured speeches from dignitaries such as Member of Parliament Jim Eglinski, Member of the Legislative Assembly Martin Long, and Town Councillor Gean Chouinard.

The evening portion of the day-long event was the Banquet. Here, the students dressed up in new suits and gorgeous ball gowns. The evening was MC’ed by teachers Danielle Unger and Samantha Volk who entertained the crowd with hilarious stories about the grads using comedic photoshopped images, a song, and even haikus.

Throughout the evening, students made toasts to various people who have assisted them throughout their educational journey from the School Board, to teachers, to the support staff. Graduates Rena Fakhreddine and Jordy Robinson also made some jokes at the teacher’s expenses during their toast, but rest assured it was all in good fun.

A major highlight of the evening came during the Valedictorian Address. This year’s Valedictorian was Noemi Napoles. She was introduced to the stage by Science Teacher Becky Gantz. “Noemi earned the privilege of speaking to here today because she has worked tirelessly to excel in her courses,” said Gantz alongside fellow Science Teachers Andy Hallett and Melanie MacDonald-Winsor. “Since she came to Canada in the ninth grade, Noemi has been at the top of her class, demonstrating drive and mastery, especially in the sciences.” In addition to her high grades and wonderful personality, Napoles was one of only 40 young women in Alberta to take part in the University of Alberta’s esteemed Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology Summer Research Program. “Noemi is now set to join the ranks of many strong female STEM grads who have shared this podium,” says Gantz. From there, Napoles took to the podium and spoke highly of her fellow graduates and her their time together at HRH, while at the same time gave inspiring words for the future.

The last part of the evening was when the Grads took to the dance floor for one dance with their parent. And that’s when it truly hit people in the feels as they looked at the parents faces knowing that their children were now all grown up and about to enter the world.

With Grad now over, the students close the book on one chapter of their lives and begin to open the next chapter. Where that chapter takes goes is up to them, but rest assured these Grads are going to make a difference.