SHERBROOKE – Graduates, families, teachers and school staff gathered at St. Mary’s Academy on June 28 to celebrate the Class of 2023.
As school principal Trevor MacIsaac congratulated this year’s graduates, he spoke about the resiliency of the students as they navigated through the COVID-19 pandemic as part of their academic careers. For the grads, further pursuits await them at community college, university and in the private sector.
In his remarks, class valedictorian Ansun Levy spoke about the journey of the Class of 2023 and the perseverance it took to reach graduation. He also thanked the teachers and staff who played in important role in helping the students reach graduation day.
The guest speaker was Marie Kennedy, a long-time teacher at St. Mary’s Academy and a 1988 graduate of St. Mary’s Rural High. Kennedy is a school councillor at St. Andrew Junior School in Antigonish.
In her remarks, she focused on four important themes: people, well-being, finding joy and gratitude. She spoke specifically about one of her best friends and colleague, Rachel Currie, who lost her battle to cancer.
“Her favourite saying was, ‘it is going to be okay and, if it is not okay, it is still going to be okay.’ This is how she lived her life; every day and every challenge she encountered. No matter how tough the day, she always showed up. Every day was a fresh start for the kids she worked with. She passed away in 2018 from cancer at the age of 48 after teaching thousands of students how to live gracefully with an illness. I hope you all have a friend like Rachel in your life and I hope you remember that everything will be okay no matter what challenge you are facing.”
Kennedy also advised students to think of the role that teachers, administrators, janitors, educational assistants, librarians and school secretaries have played in helping them reach graduation.
“If I could end with one wish, I want you all to find happiness, amazing jobs, wonderful partners, but even more so I want you to be able to handle everything that life will throw at you,” she said. “The happy moments are the easy stuff. Being able to cope with life’s challenges and move forward,” said Kennedy, “that will be your superpower.”
The evening was capped off with the presentation of awards and scholarships. Included among the winners were students who received entrance scholarships to community college and university. Top award winners including Josie Hudson, with a $3,650 entrance scholarship for NSCC; Ansun Levy and Patrick McGinn, who each received a $7,000 entrance scholarship to StFX; and Emma Smith, with Dalhousie University’s J&W Murphy Scholarship, valued at $40,000.
Greetings were presented by Guysborough-Tracadie MLA Greg Morrow, Strait Regional Centre for Education representative Chris Grover and St. Mary’s student council co-chair Sadie Tate-Beaver.