GUYSBOROUGH – Members of the Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy (CECGA) school community didn’t only bid farewell to the Class of 2023 at its graduation ceremony on June 28. Long-time teacher Chris Martins, an educator who played many leadership roles in the school over the past 10 years, is leaving CECGA for a teaching position in Antigonish County.
Tristan Kieley introduced Martins as the ceremony’s guest speaker.
“For the past 10 years, Mr. Martins has provided students at our school with endless opportunities,” he said. “He has committed endless hours to extracurricular activities in our school community through coaching multiple sports teams, and organizing minor soccer and basketball programs … He has hosted assemblies, concerts, heritage fair presentations, Anti-bullying Day, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, school initiatives; planned road trips and led in theatre productions [Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Grease, and most recently The Lion King].”
Martins’ address sparked lots of laughter and applause. He took to the podium wearing black jeans, a plaid shirt and ball cap – noting that his attire was influenced by the high school prom a few days earlier.
“In the spirit of last Friday’s [June 22] grand march and prom, what can I say?” he said, stepping away from the podium so his casual outfit could be seen, drawing laughs. “I was inspired.”
Martins gave generous praise to the graduates and their families, noting the contributions they all made to the school along their journey.
“I had the privilege to teach, coach and even direct many of the students here this evening,” he said. “Please know that it was an absolute joy to have taught you over all these years.”
He thanked the grads for the discussions and debates they brought to the classroom. “Your group always made class discussions very interesting,” he said. “Even though we didn’t always agree with one another, we were always able to establish a safe, comfortable place where we respected and validated each other’s opinions and thoughts. And for that, I’m very thankful.”
Martins then made a personal tribute to each of the 16 grads.
Ryan Sangster was this year’s valedictorian. He talked about how much the grads have been through together, including extended periods of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. He reflected on humorous incidents and favourite quotes from their years together, and encouraged his classmates to make their best efforts to attend class reunions.
“My wish for you all is to be happy, safe, successful and to always hold dearly the friendships we’ve made.”
Many scholarships, awards and bursaries were presented to grads as they plan for attending NSCC and universities, or entering the workforce. Mackenzie Washburn of University of New Brunswick student recruitment attended the ceremony to present Hannah Kamogawa with the Schulich Leader Scholarship to attend the school. The Schulich prize is Canada’s premier science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) scholarship program, with 100 undergraduate scholarships awarded annually across 20 Canadian universities. Kamogawa’s Schulich scholarship is valued at $100,000.