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Grads prepare for next chapter in life

Kirsten Fenn
Northern News Services
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sarah Hart remembers meeting a lot of strangers during her first days at St. Patrick High School.

NNSL photograph

Seventy-eight students graduated from St. Patrick High School at a convocation ceremony on June courtesy of Alicia Larade -

She was in a new place, with new peers - some from "rival" middle schools - and had yet to get to know the people around her.

Once she did, her classmates became like family, said Hart.

She is this year's Grade 12 valedictorian and one of 78 graduating students celebrated at the St. Pat's convocation ceremony on June 3.

"St. Pat's is such a nurturing environment," said the grad, describing the school as a place where she and her classmates could always talk to one another and where feeling comfortable was "so easy."

While she knows she and her peers may face a little fear as they begin the next chapter of their lives, her graduation day speech was meant to remind them how far they've come since their first day of high school.

"Just remember how we started in Grade 9 - scared," said Hart. "By the time we hit Grade 12, we were family. So (it's) just a kind of reminder that you can create love out of anything."

Alicia Larade, the administrator who oversees graduation, said the event was a success.

She described a full house at the school on the day of the convocation ceremony, which followed a mass in the morning.

A number of awards were presented to graduating students for academic, athletic and community achievement, while guest speakers delivered send-off messages.

Retiring principal Coleen McDonald handed out the diplomas to each of the graduates.

Hart, who is heading to the University of Alberta next year to study engineering, acknowledged students couldn't have succeeded or have had such a great graduation weekend without the support of family, staff and teachers at the high school.

"Grad is something that you look forward to and you don't really stop and think what other people are doing to make sure you have a great time," she said. "The teachers and our parent volunteers put in so many hours planning out the speeches or setting up the gym."

According to Hart, they also decorated the Yellowknife Community Arena for the students' "dry grad." Balloons designed with each graduating student's name on them were hung, teachers operated cotton candy and popcorn machines and games were held all night.

"It was great," laughed Hart.

She added students had a prom on the Friday night before the graduation ceremony - an evening filled with speeches from students, parents and teachers, and, of course, a little dancing.

Now that classes are done for the year, students will be spreading their wings in many different directions.

Many are headed off to study science, engineering, business and nursing next year, said Larade.

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