Madawaska Valley District High School (MVDHS) students celebrated the end of their secondary schooling last evening with all the traditional trappings: mortarboards and gowns; speeches from the Class Valedictorian, MVDHS Principal, School Board Trustee, and even the Prime Minister; congratulations from MVDHS staff; and the presentation of a host of awards. Somehow it seemed this year’s awards and prizes were even more numerous than in previous years — or perhaps that was because they were “awarded” virtually — in a live ceremony on YouTube. The only things missing were the on-stage handshakes as each student accepted their diploma or award. But of course handshakes were never going to happen during a pandemic. Plus there were some new items on the program — like a surprise special gift (from Nashville) as well as the obligatory Wolf Howl.
Krista Recoskie, MVDHS Vice-Principal, emceed the graduation ceremony which opened with The Next Step Forward played by Kirk Harber. Graduating students Julia Gutz sang O Canada, and Jeremy Shalla read The Beatitudes in memory of Ann Marie Bloskie. Videos from Board Trustee David F. Kaiser and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were played, then MVDHS Principal Dean Zadow (inset) spoke to the graduating students.
Acknowledging the unprecedented circumstances of this academic year, he told them, “You are a part of one of the most historic events in the history of our planet. It is easy to dwell on how our lives have been negatively affected…. But what good can come from it? Time with those dear to us, creative thinking, slowing our lives down – focusing on what matters most. And you Graduates are going to lead the way.” Challenging them to show their appreciation for everyone who helped them achieve this milestone, Zadow said, “You have an opportunity to make an impact, maybe more so than ever before. Use everything you have learned to make this world a better place.”
The 2020 Valedictorian is Eve Cuddy (inset). Eve echoed the sentiments of many of her classmates in her opening when she said, “The current state of things is just a temporary point in time that will eventually pass, but the memories that we’ve made at MV and the friendships that we’ve developed with each other will influence us for the rest of our lives. Each person that we met along our journey here at MV impacted who we are now, whether it was a teacher, another student or the staff, everyone played a part in the person I have become and I am grateful for that.” She reminisced about the past few years, including some high-jinks during her secondary school career, and ended with “some famous words from Dr. Seuss, “You’re off to great places. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!” Scroll down for a link to the video ceremony to hear Eve’s entire Valedictory Address.
MVDHS Major Awards
Click BELOW for recipient of each award.
Presentation of the class of 2020
MVDHS faculty members Kevin Klawitter and Carrie Sweeney presented the graduates, revealing each student’s next stage in life and highlighting any bursaries and awards received.
A graduation gift from Nashville
Jason Blaine, Canadian country music singer/songwriter originally from Pembroke, provided a musical video message to all Renfrew County District School Board graduates of 2020, in which he advised grads to “Remember where you come from and remember the morals and values you were raised with” including “kindness and love.” He followed his introduction with a performance of Born to Love.
Moving forward, looking back
The ceremony ended with original music When New Doors Open by Kirk Harber played over grad/baby photo slides that doubtless caused a few tears for some parents and grandparents.
For those who missed the live event, you can view the 1-hour video on YouTube:
Media, photos supplied by MVDHS