Graduation ceremony celebrates resilience and success of Maverick students

Ashlynn Cameron is the first recipient of the new Think Small, Dream Big bursary provided by Stuart and Ruth Smith. She is pictured with teacher Marnie Kay (at left) and Ruth Smith. The bursary title is a reference to Maverick’s first principal Steve Small, who urged students to dream big.

By Matthew Liebenberg

The achievements of 25 students were celebrated during the Maverick High School graduation and recognition ceremony at the InnovationPlex, June 13.

There were speeches, the grand march of graduates, the presentation of awards, bursaries and diplomas as well as the principal’s address to graduates.

The ceremony included frequent references to the class of 2024 graduation theme about the importance of choices, which was based on the quotation “It is our choices …that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” by Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter.

Chinook Board of Education Chair Kimberly Pridmore noted it was indeed the choices made by students that led them to this day.

“As we reflect on the challenging times and situations you’ve all experienced and the hard work and resilience you’ve shown to get you to this point in your lives, we hope your good choices lead you to much success and prosperity,” she said.

Chinook Superintendent of Schools Angela Hermanson remarked that high school graduation is a great accomplishment that will open the door for many future opportunities.

“All of your grit, determination, hard work and your ability to overcome challenges over these years has paid off and will continue to in the future,” she said.

She felt the skills and abilities they developed at Maverick will take them far and she wished them the best for the future.

“There will be times when you make the right choice and times when you don’t, and that is part of learning and growing in this world,” she said. “Learn from it, trust yourself to do it differently moving forward. And know you always have a choice. Have the courage to be a true Maverick and make the tough, but right choice. And never lose sight of hope.”

She gave recognition to the support provided by family and friends that helped graduates to reach this milestone. Hermanson also acknowledged the dedicated team of staff at the school who made it a place of belonging for graduates.

“Maverick School is a pretty special place,” she said. “At the heart of Maverick is a team who challenge you to become your best, drawn out your unique talents and abilities, a team who goes above and beyond to support each of you as individuals and walk alongside you in your journeys.”

Emily Haddock, who achieved the highest academic average in last year’s graduating class, delivered the alumni address. She thanked Maverick staff for providing her with the tools and guidance to graduate with success. She noted that it was made possible by school principal Jayne Nicholson’s decision to let her become a student at Maverick.

“Jayne’s choice that day really showed me just how great of a person she is and just how much she wants to see her students succeed,” Haddock said.

She emphasized that daily choices can make a real difference and urged graduates to make those good choices and do good deeds that can make a difference in the lives of others.

“The one thing I would like each and every one of you to take away from this would be that all of those small things, like holding a door open for someone, saying good morning to the stranger that you pass on the street, or paying it forward and buying that person behind you a Timmies for the day, truly show who you are as a person far more than those 80s or 90s that you got in school,” she said.

Nicholson said during the principal’s address to graduates that their choices will ultimately determine their life outcomes. Their previous decisions and leaps of faith amid moments of doubt brought them to their graduation ceremony. She urged them to never underestimate the profound impact of their choices.

“The beauty of choice lies not only in its ability to shape our individual paths, but also in its capacity to impact the world around us,” she said. “From the simple act of kindness, which you all show so often, to the bold pursuit of justice, our choices have the power to ripple through the fabric of society, leaving a lasting imprint for generations to come. Therefore, choose wisely, guided by empathy, integrity, and a steadfast commitment to making a difference.”

She said after the ceremony that there has not been such a large class of graduates for a while, but there have been previous years with up to 27 graduates.

“I think it says that there’s a real need for Maverick, it says that families and students know that they will find success there,” she mentioned. “So oftentimes our students are the younger siblings of other students who have found success there, which is true with this group of graduates. I just think that what we’re doing at Maverick works.”

The following awards and bursaries were presented to students during the graduation and recognition ceremony:

Governor General’s bronze medallion for academic achievement – Emily Haddock (2023 graduate).

Ron Thurbide memorial bursary – Antaya Lee.

Think Small, Dream Big bursary – Ashlynn Cameron.

Drug Strategy Action Committee bursary – Berkley Regier.

Rempel Family award series: Visual art award – Briana Pleasance; Coffeehouse Courage award – Melody Schwartz; Outdoor education award – Rachael Emperingham.

Leonard Family Control Theory award – Kyla Silverwood.

Saskatchewan Youth Apprenticeship Westridge Construction Ltd. scholarship – Berkley Regier.

Maverick School awards: Perseverance award – Kiersten Roberts; Writers’ Guild award – Charlee Pleasance; Spirit award – Alex Westbury; Resilience award – Ashton Giesbrecht; Dedication award – Jeanette Messenger.

Bryan Tallon Memorial award series: GRIT award – Grace Dyck; Personal Growth award – Matthew Lockman-Caissie; Apprenticeship and trades award – Trey Grant.