I was lucky to attend the Pemberton Secondary School’s Graduation Ceremony on Saturday, as a guest of a rather special grad, Tanina Williams. More on Tanina’s story to come.
It was my first grad ceremony since I walked across a stage myself, to shake some officials’ hands and step into an unknown future and a new identity. And while that was a thousand grey hairs ago, and in another country, the format hasn’t changed much. It’s one of those institutional things, like weddings, that is like a self-replicating meme – insert speech here. My heart ached for the school community this year, sitting in the dark as an observer, for all the strangeness of the times we’ve been living through and that we’re launching young people into… (amplified perhaps by a sense that time is going to fold in on itself and I’m going to be one of those parents in 10 years and I feel utterly unprepared for that, or any of the years in between), and for the way our traditions and conventions and speeches maybe haven’t quite caught up, because how can you really say, on what should be a happy day, “we actually have no idea what kind of world we’re casting you out into and that kind of frightens us more than we can say.” (I’m definitely projecting. And it’s probably part of the specialness of that ceremony, just like a wedding, that people refrain from projecting their stuff onto the new ones stepping up to the breach. Because we never knew what would come next, even when the world seemed more predictable.)
All we know is what they’ve shown themselves to be, thus far, and from all reports, they’ve shown up as a remarkable group, so sincerest congratulations to the Class of 2022.
I think this is why I loved Nic McaPhee’s speech, on behalf of the parents, to the graduating class, so much. Obviously, I will own that a large part is probably related to loving Nic (a long time friend of the Wellness Almanac and one of our first guestagrammers back in 2016! Scrooooooooll back to find her takeover, where she introduced herself as A MOTHER/RADICAL LIBRARIAN/MUSIC LOVER/FEMINIST/HIPPIE/PUNK/INTROVERT/DANCER/READER/GARDENER/COOK/EXTREME FOREST WALKER/GLACIAL LAKE SWIMMER/PHOTOGRAPHER/ART LOVER/GLORIOUS TRAVELER AND ADVENTURER – and won a permanent spot in my heart.)
Each year, the graduating class votes on the teacher they’d like to hear give a speech on behalf of the staff, and the parent who they’d like to represent the parents, and the class of 2022 picked Hayden Kuiper’s mom, Nic.
And this is her speech. (She said that she was shaking like a leaf and hopes to never have to do anything like this again, but I can testify that she was composed beyond measure.
With respect and gratitude, I acknowledge that we are on the territories of the Stl’atl’limx Nation.
It is a great honor to be asked to give a speech on behalf of the student’s parents and caregivers.
Hi, I am Nic, Haydn Kuiper’s Mum. I moved to Pemberton in 2002 from Whistler when we bought our first home. Pemberton has been a wonderful place to watch our children grow within community.
I would like to take the time to thank all of the staff at Pemberton Secondary.
To the Custodians who keep the school spick and span. The Operations Staff who maintain everything in the school. To the Grounds staff who pressure-wash eggs off the building. To the bus drivers who ensure our children arrive to school safely. To the E.A.’s who have supported our children. To the Teachers who fill our kids’ brains with new knowledge every day. To the Clerical Staff who keep the school running successfully and let us know when our kids are not attending school. To the Vice Principal and Principal who manage it all. Thank-you so very much.
I have had the privilege to witness this incredible diverse group of graduates grow from wee babies into the stellar humans that they are today.
I am hopeful for this group of PSS 2022 graduates, as I know that they will help shape the world into a better place. Never have I met so many youth who are politically aware, artistic, edgy, smart, funny, athletic and kind.
Over the last year, many of the graduates have been asked the question of what do you want to do with your one and precious life? What is your plan for next year, are you going to work, travel, take a gap year or go to school?
It’s not an easy decision to figure out what you want to do when you grow up.
Heck, I still don’t know what I want be when I grow up. But if I could, I would learn to be a photographer like Joffre, I would get my motorcycle license like Sammy, I would learn to do a treflip like Kokichi or become a cinematographer like Tiago, I would dunk a basketball like Oliver, I would dance like Shea, I would do computer coding like Cameron, work on getting a dazzling smile like Joe Joe. Try being a host like Evan, a mechanic like Rylee, I would learn how to be a barrel racer like Charlize, a welding artist like Haydn, a line cook like Heidi, learn to sing along to Frozen like Carter, travel to Prague like Chaya, be a downhill mountain biker like Marin, own a really cool red car like Arlo or become an engineer, a soccer playing star like Reimi, an actor like Sara, an album cover pillar painting pro like Mali.
Pretty impressive right?
This is a small example of some graduates’ work, interests and talents that I know. There are so many students who I do not know personally and I acknowledge all of you.
To the grad class, may you honour yourselves and do things that light you up, mentally, physically and intellectually.
Our world is changing very rapidly. I have confidence in this group, that you all will make a difference. Kukwstumkalap
PS Nic, where did you get those shoes? ❤
Photos by Natalie Langmann, Aligned Creative, for the Wellness Almanac.