Graduating Houston Secondary students stepped past rows of proud families and friends on Friday and took the gym stage under the inspiring words of Dr. Seuss: “Oh, the places you’ll go.”
Valedictorian Owen Waterhouse said that although his graduating class of 34 students is small, they are sure to have as big an impact as any HSS class before them.
For that, Waterhouse first thanked all the parents who cheered them through sports games or tough classes, and who stood in as extra alarm clocks when students chose to ignore their own.
To the teachers, Waterhouse said what he will remember most, “Isn’t that they taught us about logarithms, osmosis, or how to shoot a basketball, but they taught us to learn, how to think for ourselves.”
HSS Principal Scott Jackson, who students chose as guest speaker, agreed the 2012 class is strong-willed, but said teachers can’t take all the credit.
“You’re all very different,” he joked. “You can’t agree on, in Mr. Vandermark’s words, the colour of an orange.”
But Jackson, who has known the 2012 class since they were in Grade 8, said that their grit and diversity will serve them well.
“You people stick to your guns, you don’t back down,” he said.
Jackson also praised the class for its kindness, noting how easily they mixed with other HSS students.
“When you talk to the younger grades about you guys—and this is not always the case—you’re nice,” Jackson said.
“And as a very wise staff member said about you recently, ‘Nice goes a long ways in life.'”
Seventy eight awards were given out at Friday’s commencement ceremony, and they too reflected the diverse talents that Principal Jackson praised in the 2012 class.
Jasmine Parhar earned 11 awards and scholarships, including the awards for top science student, top math student, and one for students entering pharmaceutical studies.
Shaylene Proctor also came up for several awards, including one for her top marks in accounting and a NWCC entrance scholarship.
Cheering her on was Proctor’s uncle, Don Wassink, who drove up from Vancouver to see her graduate. Other family members came from as far as Whitehorse, he said.
Shea Long, another student to win many awards, was given a scholarship for top mechanics student from Nadina Truck Service, where he is getting set to apprentice.
Long’s twin sister Tori also earned awards, and was the only student to take the HSS stage sporting a pair of cowgirl boots—a sign of her love for horses, she said, and of her future learning about ranching at a college in Alberta.
For more details on the graduating classes of Houston Secondary and Houston Christian School, pick up the July 7 edition of the Houston Today.