Eastern PEI's 2020 Graduation Ceremonies

The top four Montague Regional High School 2020 graduates are, from left, Bethany Visser, Governor General Medal winner Briana Creed and Sydney Powers with one of their teachers, Lianne Garland. On the right is Valedictorian Damien Collings. The final in a series of nine ceremonies was held Thursday evening in the school’s cafeteria. In all 134 students graduated. Heather Moore photo

I hope we are all able to come out of this with a newfound appreciation for what we have. 

Montague High Grade 12 graduate Damien Collings was the 2020 Valedictorian

His thought-provoking and heartfelt message follows: 

We’re all experiencing a time of stress, and uncertainty, but the significance of this moment, and the magnitude of our achievements has not been forgotten. It’s important that we acknowledge, and appreciate all the work that has gone into making these ceremonies possible. Thank you to our organizers, and amazing administrators. 

Not too long ago this would have been a traditional valedictory speech, with me recapping our year, sharing a few stories, some corny jokes, and preaching that our class is destined to change the world. Yet over the past several months the world has instead changed us, and made this far from a traditional graduation. 

It has been difficult to accept that our entire class has not been able to cross the stage together. Many of us share friendships, and connections that go well beyond our high school years, and I wish we could be united. With that being said, there is a silver lining to be found, as many close friends have still been able to share this experience together. 

It’s these fundamental things - like the friendship of Phoebe and Emily, that these bizarre circumstances have allowed me to reflect upon. Health. Happiness. Friendship. Family. Education. We talk about these aspects of life to the point they almost seem cliché, yet all too often we take them for granted. The pandemic, and response to it, have put these values to the test, and strengthened their importance. 

Although things may look very different now, our resilience remains. We didn’t abandon our learning, teachers adjusted their lessons to suit our needs. And we didn’t cut off communication, we found new ways to stay connected. The absence of important pillars like clubs, sports teams and gatherings may have hindered us but our emotions and intentions are still pure. 

The abrupt end to our senior year has been a stark reminder of the importance of our school in meeting these needs. 

On the surface you may see congested hallways, complex equations, and the daily grind of an academic machine, but at its core, our school is a vibrant community. Listening to Mr Weeks’ energetic announcements after an important Viking’s victory, sharing lunch with friends, fostering your creativity as a member of one of the many clubs and groups, and hanging out at Munn’s landing or in a locker pod between classes, are just some of the many characteristics of our community that have kept us connected these past three years. It may not show up on a report card, or a resume, yet the relationships we’ve built, and the experiences we’ve shared, are just as valuable as any material contained in a textbook. 

I encourage you to please thank the people who’ve helped you reach this milestone. Graduation is our special moment, so fill yourself with pride, reflect on your achievements, and celebrate to your heart’s content. But don’t forget about the people who have helped you make this moment a reality. To our parents, guardians, and caregivers, we truly appreciate everything you have done. You have played a major role in our journey, from making sure our boots were on the right feet, to listening to our teenage problems. We love you.

Our time in these classrooms and hallways may be coming to an end, but we will always be united by the community we’ve shared, we will always be Vikings. Thank you, and good luck in your future endeavours.

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