Despite a disrupted finish to the school year due to the ongoing labour dispute in B.C.’s education system, the journey through Merritt Secondary School came to its foreseeable end for 107 students at their June 20 convocation.

The magnitude of the achievement was not lost on graduate Trevor Reed.

“When I was up there, I’ve never felt that before,” Reed said. “It was just like shock and awe. I’m actually here, I’m actually graduating. Wow. It was a good time.”

His journey through high school was not a difficult one as he had a lot of help from friends and teachers, he told the Herald.

Neither was the emotion of this turning point absent from the mind of graduate Claire Burnham, who shed a few tears after throwing her hat into the air with her fellow grads to end the ceremony.

MSS graduates Trevor Reed and Claire Burnham (below) are looking forward to the next chapter.  Michael Potestio/Herald

MSS graduates Trevor Reed and Claire Burnham (below) are looking forward to the next chapter.
Michael Potestio/Herald

She told the Herald she’s going to miss everyone who will be moving on after graduation.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” the lifelong Merrittonian said.

She also said it felt awesome to throw her hat, describing its symbolism as the opening of a door.

Addressing the crowd at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena that night, MSS principal Bill Lawrence said by graduating, these young people have provided themselves with extra income in the future and multiple options.

School District 58 superintendent Robert Peacock said the graduates of 2014 are heroes.

“For me, a hero is an ordinary individual who does something so well that it inspires and supports others,” Peacock said.

Valedictorian Evan Snee told his fellow graduates that one thing he’s learned from them is to be brave and take that first step regardless of doubts.claire_web

“If you take that first step, you can accomplish amazing feats. Don’t settle for mediocrity, go for the gold without fear of what may happen,” he said. “If you give 100 per cent to life, you are far more likely to get 100 per cent back.”

He even serenaded his fellow graduates with a song of his own design, prompting many smiles and laughter from them.

Nooaitch band Chief Joyce Sam commended parents, families, teachers and friends for their effort in supporting the graduates in their education.

“Tonight is a celebration that you are a part of as well,” she said.

To the graduates, she said high school graduation represents their ability to overcome challenges and persevere.

“I applaud your strength and your tenacity,” Sam said.

The convocation ceremony also saw a total of $38,750 local scholarships handed out and another $15,000 given by the district authority for a grand total of $53,750 in scholarships for members of the class of 2014.