WSD Valedictorians 2021June 23, 2021 News Story
Liul Zergaw – Argyle Alternative High School
Favourite high school memory: I competed in shotput as part of the track and field club here at Argyle and I was able to go to the University of Manitoba Stadium. Participating in that and watching all the other athletes compete was a really fun experience.
Extracurricular activities: I volunteer at Harvest Manitoba about three or four times a week. It’s a great experience because you’re giving back to the community, helping people who are less fortunate. It makes you feel good.
Also, I was able to participate in the Moose Hide Campaign, which is a campaign against violence toward women and children. It was an enlightening experience.
Impactful educators: All the teachers at Argyle are great, but I’d say my two math teachers, Sarah Babson and Kim Koverzin. I always struggled with math before I came to Argyle, but the way they taught was great.
Hobbies and interests: I like to exercise wherever and whenever I can. Prior to COVID, I went to the gym a lot, but I do have some weights at home and I also do a lot of calisthenics, so push-ups, sit-ups, stuff like that.
I also play video games. I like RPGs (role-playing games) like Pokémon and Persona, games that involve some critical thinking.
Future plans: I’m accepted into the University of Manitoba for the BA of Commerce program.
Business and finance have just always interested me. The world runs on money and it’s just something I’ve been interested in for a long time.
Coping with COVID: Try not to overwhelm yourself with every little thing. Try to focus on the important things. A lot of times we tend to overthink things, but ask yourself, ‘If something goes wrong, what’s the worst that can really happen?’ Don’t be afraid to fail. You can only learn from failure.
Message to fellow grads: It’s kind of cliché, but just don’t give up. This year was a tough year for everybody, but here we are, we made it through. If you take that same attitude toward life – working hard, not giving up – then you can accomplish anything.
Jory Giesbrecht Blanchard – Churchill High School
Favourite high school memory: Recently, even though it’s been online, my English class has been really fun. We do a round table talk where you present a topic of your choice to the whole class. It’s like a mini-TED talk. It gets you more social and comfortable with your classmates. We became a small little family in a short amount of time because we talked to each other a lot.
Extracurricular activities: I was involved in Youth in Philanthropy, Glow Group, which is a LGBTQ+ group, and the recently started Eco Club, which is an environmental, climate justice group. I was also in Big Brothers Big Sisters, where we’d meet and talk with Lord Roberts School students.
Personal achievements: I would say Eco Club because I helped start it. I want to be a person who is an advocate for environmental justice because not a lot of people are. There are a lot of other issues to focus on, but without a world to live in, you can’t really focus on those other issues.
Impactful educators: I like all my teachers, but the one that stands out is Mr. North. He motivates and inspires his students and he does a good job of blending the curriculum with things that are valuable in real life.
Hobbies and interests: I like to read and I also write a lot. Sometimes I write poems, other times I write essays.
I recently got into playing Just Dance because we used to play it in gym class. Also, I have a lot of siblings, so I spend a lot of time with them. I have eight siblings in total, which is crazy. I’m the oldest and my youngest sister is one.
Future plans: I’ll be attending University of Manitoba in the fall. I want to be a lawyer. Eventually, once I get my first degree, I’ll try to get into law school, but I also want to focus on my interests in psychology and environmental studies.
Coping with COVID: Try to maintain a positive attitude and see the bright side. With remote learning, at least we were able to do some school. Also, if you’re having a tough time, set little goals for yourself and try to accomplish them one-by-one. If I’m struggling, I’ll write one paragraph of an assignment and do the rest in another go. Just little things at a time.
Message to fellow grads: Always be proud of yourself, even if it’s just a little success. Whether you’re pursuing post-secondary education or you’re just working, you should be proud of the fact you graduated high school and you’re doing something after high school.
Stefan Schaible-Schur – Collège Churchill
Favourite high school memory: My favourite memory from Collège Churchill is probably a canoe trip our school went on. In Grade 10, going into Grade 11, we did a six-day canoe trip on Lake of the Woods. It was an experience everyone should go through. You get to see the Canadian wilderness and it was a fantastic bonding experience.
Extracurricular activities: I played a lot of sports. In Grade 9, I started playing AAA hockey. I played for the Winnipeg Hawks and for the past couple years I played for the Interlake Lightning.
In Grade 7, I was on the school track team. I also played a bit of volleyball, football, ultimate and water polo. I also coached the Grade 7 and 8 flag football team, which was a lot of fun.
I was also involved in Les Jeunes Ecocivistes, which is Collège Churchill’s young environmentalist club. My last role was as co-president. We ran the recycling in every classroom. We did a thing called Le Blitz, which is an art contest incorporating the recycling symbol. We also did an annual trip to Harvest Manitoba, as well as a riverside cleanup here on the banks of the Red River.
Impactful educators: Collège Churchill is a small school and you get to know all the teachers really well. They were all influential to me. But, because I really enjoy the sciences, I would say Mr. Sims and Mr. Keller. They’re really good teachers.
Hobbies and interests: In a normal year I’d be playing hockey. I also like going to Clear Lake and Lake of the Woods. I’m a nature guy and a sports guy.
Future plans: I’ll be attending University of Manitoba and I’ll be studying for a Bachelor of Science. I hope to study biology, but I’m not sure what area of biology yet.
Coping with COVID: Move around. When I was studying and doing my homework, I found it helpful to not be in my room all of the time. Go to a park, clear your mind, don’t stay in one place.
Message to fellow grads: Everyone’s mental health was a little bit strained this year, so a big congrats to everyone. And for your future, be passionate about the things you care about. They say if do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I take that expression to heart. If you’re doing something you love, you won’t have a problem getting down and grinding into the hard stuff.
Bea Oriel – Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute
Favourite high school memory: My favourite memories would be the afternoons where I have Reach for the Top meetings with my teammates. Reach for the Top is a trivia group. There are four people on each team and we take turns answering trivia questions. I liked learning new things and spending time with my teammates who turned into friends.
Extracurricular activities: Reach for the Top and I also participated in student council.
School achievements: I was on the honour roll with distinction. I also received some subject excellency awards and a Capstone medal.
Impactful educators: They all equally contributed to my growth and development but if I had to pick one I would say Mr. Paul. He was my English teacher, so he helped me with that a lot.
Hobbies and interests: I joined an organization called Girls Inspiring Girls. We meet on Fridays and we talk about our interests and we also do workshops. The workshops are either about sexual education, gender identity or racism.
I also like reading. My favourite book is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It’s a very depressing book, but I liked it. I also like adventure and fantasy, stuff like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.
Future plans: I got into the Faculty of Science at the University of Manitoba. I’m still debating if I want to go into Life Sciences or into the medical field. College is a long journey, so I can change whenever.
Coping with COVID: Time scheduling and sticking to it. Make a real detailed schedule, right down to the hour, so you don’t slack off and are able to manage your time wisely.
Message to fellow grads: Since we’re all at a crossroads and will be going down our different paths, I just want you all to remember what we’ve learned while we’ve been in school and carry that into your new chapter in life.
Dixie Bughaw – Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute
Favourite high school memory: Besides meeting good people and amazing friends, the memory that will last forever is my volleyball experience here at DMCI. I met a lot of amazing people and the girls from the older grades were like older sisters to me. Also, the coaches were so influential and they were always there for me. They were like second parents.
Extracurricular activities: I joined the student council this year. I also joined DMCI’s Finest, which is our school dance team. It was a bit of a bum year, but I still got to go to classes and dance with my friends. I hadn’t danced since Grade 7, so it felt good to be back. We didn’t get to compete, but it was great to be around friends.
School achievements: I won Female Athlete of the Year in Grade 10.
Impactful educators: The teacher that made the biggest impact on me would be our gym teacher Mr. Cheyne. I treat him like my second dad. I can always goof around with him and also go to him for any advice. He just is an amazing teacher that I look up to.
Hobbies and interests: Well I’ve been trying to keep myself busy during this pandemic. I have a job, but at home it’s just eat, sleep, watch TV and movies and annoy my brothers. My favourite TV show is Friends. I’m a big-time fan. I watched the reunion and it made me cry.
Future plans: I’m still in the process of getting accepted to University of Manitoba. I’ll be taking University 1 because I’m not sure what I want to do yet in the future. That’s OK, because I have a lot of time to decide. I just want to enjoy everything.
Coping with COVID: The coping mechanism I use is surrounding myself with good people. My parents are always there for me, my siblings keep me entertained and my teachers were always there too. I had a time schedule that I stuck to and made sure I completed so I could have the rest of the day to myself. Just stick with whatever makes you happy and try to surround yourself with positive people.
Message to fellow grads: I would advise everyone to elevate yourself to your fullest potential. Follow your dreams and follow you heart. Just follow through, because life is short. Do everything you want to do and try new things. Life can be beyond our expectations. You don’t know what you can find during this unknown journey.
Hannah Espedido – Elmwood High School
Favourite high school memory: A lot of people may say their favourite memories are from Spirit Week or pep rallies, things like that, but I found that a lot of my favourite memories revolved around my spare time during school hours, where I would just sit around with my friends and we’d be ourselves. Although it may not be grand, simplicity is what I cherish most, because those are moments that you can never get back.
Extracurricular activities: I was a part of the CATT program, which is the Canadian Academy of Travel and Tourism. I was also part of YIP or Youth in Philanthropy. In the CATT program, we volunteered quite a lot and our teacher got us involved with the community. We volunteered at the Santa Clause Parade and Happy Days on Henderson.
I was also a part of the varsity girls’ volleyball and basketball teams. I really loved participating in extracurricular activities because it made me feel connected to my community. Also, I was surrounded by good people and they were really fun to be around.
Impactful educators: I’ll start off with my middle school teacher Miss Wilkinson. She doesn’t teach here anymore, but she’s one of the most genuine people I have ever met and the atmosphere of her classroom was just so comforting. She was a motherly figure to me and my classmates.
Another teacher I’d like to talk about is Michelle McLarty-Paul. She’s so amazing and considerate and learning math from her was such a breeze. She makes learning easy.
And finally, I’d like to talk about my basketball coaches, Mr. Babb, Mr. Desautels, Miss Gomez and Miss Church. They really pushed me to be better, both on and off the court. They’re just really amazing people and I’ll really miss them.
Hobbies and interests: I’m an animal lover. I love dogs especially and I actually have two of my own named Pepper and Pugsley. Pepper is a Pomeranian, while Pugsley is a pug mix. They’re both rescue dogs.
I’m a huge book worm and I also love to cook and bake and watch crime documentaries like Forensic Files. It’s kind of cheesy, but my favourite book is To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I’m really a sucker for clichéd romance books.
Future plans: I was a science-crazed girl, however this year made me realize that science is not for me and I decided to go into something that I’ve always loved and that’s reading and writing. I’ve applied into the Faculty of Arts at the University of Manitoba where I plan to major in either sociology, psychology or criminology. After that I plan to pursue law, either here or in Calgary.
Coping with COVID: I was given lots of support by my family, my teachers and my peers. They really kept me in line with all my school work and really motivated me to survive this school year and to keep my head up. It wasn’t the senior year that I imagined, but they really made it manageable and bearable for me and I really appreciate them for that.
Message to fellow grads: You should be extremely proud of yourself, your achievements and how far you’ve come. Whatever you decide to do after high school, you should do it because it makes you happy and it’s what you’re passionate about. If you stumble, you should forgive yourself and move forward because you’ve worked far too hard to let one little thing affect your plans. All the best and congratulations!
Isra Alshareh – Gordon Bell High School
Favourite high school memory: My favourite memory of high school is group projects. Every time we would do a group project I would just pick my friends and we’d chat the whole time and not do any work. We’d have a whole week to finish up a project, but we’d do it the night before at the last minute.
Impactful educators: My favourite teacher was Mr. Kelly Reimer. He moved to Kelvin, but I like how Mr. Reimer just knows everything. Every question I asked him he would have a real good answer for. He always explained things to me in a funny way that made sense.
Also, I came to Canada in December, 2016 from Lebanon (as a Syrian refugee). When I first came here, I had some difficulties with the language, but at Gordon Bell, there were so many good staff that helped me improve my English. I feel so happy that I can now communicate with others.
Extracurricular activities: One of the best activities that I participated in was the Best Buddies program. We worked with students who have disabilities. Every day during lunch, I’d play games with them or go for a walk around the school. It was a really good experience.
School achievements: I’m proud of the high marks I achieved. I even got some awards for my high marks.
Hobbies and interests: My hobbies are playing badminton and soccer. I got the chance here at Gordon Bell to join the badminton team and play against other school teams. It was my first time joining a team, because back home we wouldn’t have that opportunity.
Future plans: I’m planning to attend University of Winnipeg. I’m planning to go into the Faculty of Education to become a teacher. I want to become a teacher because of my favourite teacher, Kelly Reimer. He had a big effect on me and I want to be like him one day.
Coping with COVID: Going into remote learning and working from home was a bit difficult. I tried to manage my education by not pushing myself too hard and doing some exercises at home. I didn’t put all my attention on school because I also have to have some time for myself. It was a hard pandemic for students too.
Message to fellow grads: I’m so proud of you guys and I’m so proud of myself too. This was a tough year, but it’s also a good experience. We got the chance to work from home. If we have to do it again, we’ll do well at it. If we can get through this pandemic, then we can get through anything that we will face in the future.
Deisy Gomez – Gordon Bell High School
Favourite high school memory: When I first came to Canada from Columbia in 2017, English was a barrier. I attended an EAL class where we got to talk about our home countries, our cultures and our foods. We did a presentation about our comfort food and at the end of the class we did a potluck. We all came with a little bit of food from our culture and we shared it in the cafeteria with our teachers and classmates.
Extracurricular activities: I played soccer for the varsity girls’ soccer team. My favourite thing about playing soccer is I met a lot of friends that will stay with me.
Impactful educators: I really looked up to my EAL teachers. It’s just amazing how they’re so patient with newcomer students.
Hobbies and interests: I liked going out to restaurants when there was no COVID. I also like to go for walks. I like to get out of the city and enjoy nature. I’ve been to Bird’s Hill Park, Grand Beach and Victoria Beach. I like to go to places where I can swim and hike.
Future plans: I’m attending R.B. Russell for a one-year electrical program. After I finish that, I plan to go to Red River College so I can become a licensed electrician. I like that it requires a lot of work and a lot of thinking. I like a challenge.
Coping with COVID: For me, remote learning wasn’t easy. At home, your attention doesn’t just go into school. Maybe someone is making noise while you are trying to concentrate, maybe you don’t have a place where you can study quietly. The way I coped with it is I just took time to breathe and think. Also, talking to your friends or family about how you feel is a good way to cope with stress. Once you talk to somebody, it takes the pressure off.
Message to fellow grads: I want to say that we will encounter a lot of obstacles outside of high school. I want you to know that you need to use your failures as a motivation to do better. It’s OK to fail, you just have to get up after each failure and be stronger. There will be a lot of obstacles, it’s not just going to be one or two, so be strong and don’t give up.
Hannah Wayngarten – Grant Park High School
Favourite high school memory: My favourite memory would have to be Grade Games. All the grade levels are dressed in different colours in the gym, all rallying for their grade. It’s just a really fun way of spending time with people in your grade that you don’t necessarily always spend time with. We did a virtual Grade Games this year, but of course it just wasn’t the same. But, I have fond memories of them from the past.
Extracurricular activities: This year I was the co-chair of the safe grad committee. Of course it looked a little bit different this year, but the main thing I headed was the fundraising committee. We really tried to support local this year, so all of the fundraisers we did were teamed up with local businesses in our community.
I played ultimate here and I’ve been a part of the basketball team. I also was in a leadership class that required us to get 50 hours of volunteering experience, so I volunteered at track and field events and other sports events.
Impactful educators: There are two Grant Park teachers who made a big impact on me. One is Mr. Z (Znidarec). He’s the metals teacher and also the ultimate coach. Everyone that goes to Grant Park will say he’s the second dad of the school. He’s always there for advice and he loves to joke around and have fun with us. It never feels like you’re in class with Mr. Z. He called me during the lockdown last year to check in on me and make sure I was OK. He’s always doing things like that for his students.
The other teacher is Miss Cuddy, our guidance counselor. Everyone gets assigned a different advisor and she’s been mine since Grade 9. She’s also in charge of the safe grad committee, so I worked really closely with her this year. It never felt Iike I was in a meeting with a teacher. She always prioritized making sure we were OK.
Hobbies and interests: I definitely want to travel in the next couple years or so. I want to go to Europe and also South America. I also love animals. I want to volunteer my time at the Humane Society or anywhere I can help out animals.
I love to hang out with friends and be social. I can’t wait to go back to being able to see my friends without any restrictions.
Future plans: I’m going into the Faculty of Science at the University of Manitoba. My overall plan is to do med school. That’s the far goal, but I’m going to take it step-by-step. I know I want to work with people. I’m a very social person, so I know a social environment where I can practise my love of science is where I want to head.
Coping with COVID: I think we’re so blessed to be living in the era of technology because you really could be with your friends from a distance. Talking to my friends and people I’m graduating with really helped me. I also enjoyed reconnecting with my family. When you’re so busy, family sometimes goes unnoticed. My family and I got so much closer this year, which was really nice.
Also, every single teacher and staff member at Grant Park was super sweet and knew exactly what we were going through. No one ever diminished our feelings and they always let us feel what we needed to feel and helped us get through this year.
Message to fellow grads: This year was so hard on us. We really didn’t have anything of a senior year. Senior year is supposed to be a year of closure. It’s supposed to be a year where you can close this chapter of your life so you’re able to move onto the next one. We weren’t able to have that, so it doesn’t feel like it’s fully over. I want to remind all the students from the graduating class of 2021 that we made it through this year. Regardless of what it looked like and regardless of us getting closure or not, we made it through. The next time life throws us a curveball, we’ll know we can power through it.
Voke Ewhrudjakpor – Kelvin High School
Favourite high school memory: I remember going on the jazz trip in Grade 9 to the Brandon Music Festival. I really like jazz music and I play the saxophone. The festival had some of the best music I’ve ever heard and it was just really amazing to get to know the other kids in our jazz bands, because we have two of them. It’s a really good memory.
Extracurricular activities: I’m part of the NorthSTAR club, which is our Arctic research club and we go on a trip to Churchill, Manitoba. We work with Professor Jane Waterman from University of Manitoba and we help her collect data. We do non-invasive research with photography on the polar bears in Churchill. We’re checking their body size and their condition and we track how that changes over time. We’re seeing a decrease in their body size and condition and it’s connected to climate change and how that’s affecting the ecosystems up north.
Also, I was on the track and field team. I throw shotput, discus and weight. I think I won two or three provincial championships and I have two school records.
Impactful educators: Being in the International Baccalaureate program has been really helpful in making connections with teachers. I absolutely love all of them, but the teacher who has impacted me the most is my track coach, Lynn Pelland. She’s been my school mom since Grade 9. She’s always there to listen to me if I have a problem. Even though she didn’t teach me a subject, she’s just been a really amazing supportive person here at Kelvin for the last four years and I’m really grateful for her.
Hobbies and interests: I like to watch movies, even the really bad ones. I like rom coms. I think cheesy movies are so good, especially when you’re super-focused and serious at school.
I like to cook and bake. It’s something my mom and I have always done together. I’ve recently gotten into design and fashion. I’m not very artistic in the sense of drawing and painting, so I like to express my creativity with fashion and interior design.
Future plans: I’m going into Life Sciences at the University of Toronto and hopefully majoring in global health with a minor in immunology. I really like biology and medicine and I want to be a doctor. I’m also really passionate about human rights, social justice and social issues. Global health is basically just the social determinants of health, so it combines the two things I’m really interested in. I want to work for the United Nations and World Health Organization.
Also, I was recruited on the track and field team, so I’ll be competing for the Varsity Blues while I’m there. I’d also really like to get involve in student government and social justice clubs on campus. There’s so much to do and I just want to try everything.
Coping with COVID: There’s nothing you can really do about the pandemic, so once you really understand that, it’s easier to be more relaxed about it. It gave me time to learn about myself and spend time with my family.
Message to fellow grads: Do what you love. I think I spent a lot of my time at Kelvin really focused on the things I should be doing and not a lot on the things I really wanted to do. Now that I’m going off to university, I’m going to take that into account. Do what you love, enjoy what you do and never think that what you’re doing isn’t enough. As long as you’re doing it, it’ll be good and you’re going to be great.
Morgyn Rudolph – R.B. Russell Vocational High School
Favourite high school memory: I think it would have to be 10th grade Halloween. They had us all go into the gym. It was cool to see all the costumes and we played a bunch of games. It was really fun.
Extracurricular activities: I did one this year through FireSpirit. It’s an internship program that mainly focuses on Indigenous and Métis youth. They connected with me through R.B. Russell and they gave me a lot of activities to do and toward the end of the program I was able to do an internship.
School achievements: I have a lot of achievements, like getting gift cards for perfect attendance and different scholarships and awards, but I feel like my biggest achievement was just graduating in general, because I never felt I would get this far.
Impactful educators: My English teacher, Miss Dormer, and my guidance counselor, Mr. Strang, always encouraged me when I felt I couldn’t do something. I’d be really unmotivated and they’d motivate me to do it.
All my teachers constantly motivated me during this tough time. They risked their own safety to come here and even visited me at home as well. Also, the janitors and the cleaners in the school would constantly sanitize the door knobs and stuff like that. They’re the silent heroes.
Hobbies and interests: I like to read and write. My favourite book is The Alchemist (by Paulo Coelho). Through English class I discovered that I really enjoy writing creative stories, like fiction and sci-fi. I also like dystopian movies, like The Hunger Games.
Future plans: I’m planning to take a year off to work and save up money. I need to decide what I really want to do because I’ve been uncertain if I want to go into graphic arts or something related to the law.
I’m currently working at Winnipeg Trading Post, stacking shelves and assisting customers. It’s my first job, but I’ve had experience with WorkForce. They send us to day jobs and we get paid. It’s a side program that I signed up for. I’ve worked at a day care and a couple of convenience stores.
Coping with COVID: I would just try to get outside. Don’t stay inside all day.
Message to fellow grads: I would say to my fellow graduates, just be proud of yourselves for graduating during a really stressful and uncertain time in the world.
Jourmae Abengoza – Sisler High School
Favourite high school memory: The one memory that sticks out to me the most was in Grade 9 where we had the chance to do Mini-Olympics. Every Grade 9 student was put on a team and we spent two weeks doing different sports, from archery to basketball and even a track and field day. In Grade 9 you don’t know a lot of people, so Mini-Olympics helped us make new friends.
Extracurricular activities: I was the co-president of the French student council here at Sisler and my responsibilities included planning different activities. My personal favourite activity that we do every single year is the scavenger hunt. When there isn’t a pandemic, we’d be running around Sisler searching for different clues, trying not to disturb classes, although that’s kind of hard because it’s so fun. This year, I hosted a virtual scavenger hunt, where I compiled a list of items students would find in their house. Although it wasn’t in-person, it was still really fun.
My next extracurricular is in graphic design. I’m not the best artist. I can’t draw or paint like a typical artist, but graphic design enables me to express my artistic ability in my own way through digital art design and photography. I was a member of the yearbook committee this year, where I had the chance to layout and contribute to our yearbook.
Lastly, I am a proud member of Youth Parliament of Manitoba, both in French and English. They usually hold the winter session at the Legislative Building, but because of the pandemic we had to do it virtually over Zoom. It was still super fun. We got to debate and pass bills about different subjects, such as police brutality.
School achievements: I was a winner in this year’s French for the Future national essay contest. I won a $3,000 scholarship. Also, I won third place in Concours d’art Oratoire, a French public speaking contest where we prepare, practice and present a speech to a panel of judges and an audience. I received a scholarship worth $8,000.
Impactful educators: I would like to thank my French teachers Mr. Cegayle and Mme. Threadkell, who helped me and motivated me to continue my passion for French. They helped me prepare for the competitions I entered and I wouldn’t have been successful without them.
I would also like to honour Mr. George Heshka, our late principal. Without him, Sisler would not be one of the best schools in Canada.
Hobbies and interests: I love to bake when I’m not doing homework. During quarantine I had the chance to hone my baking skills to the point where I think I could enter Kids Baking Championship. Although, I’m not a kid anymore, but I’m pretty tiny so there’s a chance I can slip in. Don’t tell Food Network.
I bake cupcakes and French macarons. Also, I’m Filipino, so there are a lot of sweets that we take pride in. My dad really likes pineapple chiffon cake, so I bake that a lot.
Future plans: I’m actually going to be continuing in French. I’ll be attending Université de Saint-Boniface and I’ll be seeking a Bachelor of Arts honours degree in French studies with a specialization in French literature.
Sisler is a dual-track school, therefore we do learn some stuff in English, but I’m excited to go to a university where it’s fully French. I have hopes of going to law school after that. I want to become a lawyer because I want to help people by using my voice to help the needy and the people who cannot protect themselves in this unjust world.
Coping with COVID: I wouldn’t have got through this year without the support of my family, my fellow students and the teachers here at Sisler. I want to express my gratitude to everyone who helped me get to this spot as valedictorian.
Message to fellow grads: I would like to say I’m proud of every single one of you. We are all resilient. We would have never envisioned our last year to come out this way. I know it was very difficult to adjust from in-person learning to distanced learning, but I think our resilience and the lessons we learned this year will serve us well in the future.
I just want to emphasize that it’s OK to feel uncertain during these times. Graduation is only the beginning. Its cliché, but I truly believe in that. Not all of us know where we’re going, but I hope each and every one of you finds something you can be truly passionate about for the rest of your lives.
Rosy Paw – St. John’s High School
Favourite high school memory: My favourite memory from here is just getting to see my friends and teachers and socializing.
Extracurricular activities: I played rugby and basketball. I also played flag football.
I started playing rugby when I was in Grade 10. I did it to get out of my comfort zone because I tend to be shy. It is very physical, but I’m a fast runner, so I can run away from them.
School achievements: I was on the honour roll every single year.
Impactful educators: I would say Mr. McMillan, our gym teacher. He was very easygoing. Also, he’s there to listen to us if we have a problem.
Hobbies and interests: When I’m not in school, I stay home and sing with my siblings. We do karaoke. I would say my go-to karaoke song is Say You Won’t Let Go (by James Arthur).
Future plans: I applied for Red River College, but then I thought why not apply for University of Manitoba? I’m still in process between those two, but I’ll eventually study business at one of them.
I was born in Thailand. I came here in 2009. My parents weren’t born in Thailand, so we’re not really culturally Thai. They were born in Burma (now Myanmar), so that’s their culture.
I think that there’s a lot of talent in my family. We’re all good at cooking. I’d like to express that and own my own restaurant where we serve our cultural food.
Coping with COVID: There’s a lot of support at St. John’s where teachers will ask you, ‘Hey, do you want to talk?’ If you’re feeling that the situation may have gotten to you and affected your grades, there’s people to talk to.
Message to fellow grads: We really did our best to get to this point, to finally graduate. Even though it might look different from previous years, we still deserve it. It is a big accomplishment with the situation that we’re in. I want to congratulate all of you.
Sasha Houle – Technical Vocational High School
Favourite high school memory: My favourite memory from Tec Voc is just spending time after school with my fellow students, cramming for tests and last-minute assignments. It’s a very interesting experience, getting together with people you don’t necessarily know that well just to get something done.
Extracurricular activities: I was an events director for Project Pulse Winnipeg. It’s a non-profit organization dedicated toward creating resources for students aspiring to a healthcare career to participate in without financial burden. I was also the communications director for Revamp Youth Foundation. It’s a non-profit that’s dedicated toward creating educational resources for students who aren’t privileged enough to experience a well-rounded education.
Also, I was the co-chair for my school’s Youth in Philanthropy committee. I was a member of Tec Voc Fair Trade and Sustainability committee. I was part of WSD’s Student Advisory Committee. I was also a tutor for Frontier College.
I grew up always taking from my community. I definitely took part in a lot of afterschool activities when I was younger. It’s really gratifying to now be on the giving end.
Impactful educators: The teacher who was always the best motivator for me was definitely Miss Mira. She always supported me throughout everything and she pushed me toward every achievement I wanted to achieve. She’s helped me become who I am today and I want to thank her.
Hobbies and interests: I really love music. I’ve always played a lot of different instruments and I’ve taken part in choirs and vocal jazz groups. It’s been a big part of my life. I play the cello, the violin, the guitar, the ukulele and the piano. I’ve been playing the violin the longest. I like playing classical music, as well as folk music.
Future plans: I’ll be attending the University of Manitoba in the Faculty of Health Sciences. I’m hoping to go into medicine, specifically psychiatry. I’ve always wanted to help create mental health resources for youth and I feel like pursuing a career in psychiatry is the best way to do that.
Coping with COVID: Just know there is help out there. There are people to talk to, people that know your value and understand that you’re a person who deserves to live and a person who deserves to have everything you want in life.
Message to fellow grads: We are a graduating class of so many hardworking and driven individuals. Despite all the adversities we faced this year, we persevered and we pushed through. We’re not celebrating in a typical ceremony-like fashion, but I think the real celebration is what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve become.
Joshua Michael Benedict Feliciano – Winnipeg Adult Education Centre
Reason for attending: I’m 23. I attended Winnipeg Adult Education Centre for one academic year. I moved here from the Philippines and I needed certain credentials so I can go to university.
Favourite high school memory: The first day of school at Winnipeg Adult Education Centre is my greatest memory. Going back into a school, sitting in a classroom, being surrounded by classmates and meeting a teacher again was a really a great experience for me. It was also an eye-opener for me. I was able to tell myself this is my path, this is my future, it’s up to me to put all my dreams into action and make them into reality. I was able to tell myself that this is stepping stone toward a better future for myself.
Impactful educators: I’d like to give every teacher at Winnipeg Adult Education Centre credit. I’ve seen all of their hard work and their sacrifices. They made learning easy, accessible and fun.
Hobbies and interests: I’ve learned to enjoy peace and relaxation. I like to binge watch TV and play around in the kitchen where I try to come up with my own recipes. I also connect with my friends back home. I like to take care of myself, so I’m able to take care of others.
Future plans: I’m planning to go into business, specifically accounting. I’ve always dreamed to be an accountant one day and to be a business owner.
One of the reasons I want to go into business is I was exposed to the business of my grandparents. They run a little printing press. I’ve always wanted to run a little business of my own. Also, I believe business can be socially responsible, not only giving back to themselves but also the community at large.
Coping with COVID: When I feel down and doubtful about myself or the situation I’m in, I find people to talk to or I tell myself to just take it one step at a time. This pandemic is not something we can change by our own hands, but the one thing we can do is take care of ourselves, so we’re able to take care of our family, friends and community.
Message to fellow grads: First of all, I’d like to congratulate everybody. I’m proud of each one of you. It was not easy for us, coping and adapting to changes, but we made it work. Life will always throw you challenges, hurdles and obstacles, but if you know your reason, your purpose, your passion, you will always find yourself going above and beyond.