Haliburton Highlands Secondary School celebrated and honoured its high achievers with its annual awards assembly Oct. 11.

More than 140 students from Grades 9-11 in 2018/19 were recognized through the honour roll and more than 60 individual awards. Students, donors, family and community members packed the school’s gymnasium to celebrate the occasion.

Principal Chris Boulay said students should take pride in their accomplishments and in reaching their goals.

“You’re to be congratulated for your hard work and your dedication to your studies,” Boulay told students. “Your achievements are vast … you all should be proud.”

Scholarship fund awards committee chair Melissa Stephens said the community had provided more than $45,000 to students across all grade levels for the 2018/19 school year.

“It’s nice to be able to give the money out to as many kids as possible,” Stephens said. “I’m just very thankful for the support from the community.”

The assembly is the end of months of work for the committee, starting around May, to prepare all the bursaries.

Stephens said the assembly is also a good opportunity to show new Grade 9 students what awards are available. She added it is a chance to remind graduating students to start applying for bursaries in their last year. The school hands out Grade 12 awards at the graduation ceremony in June.

“Any amount that we can give to graduates, especially to help them offset their costs as they’re going to school helps,” Stephens said. “A lot of kids don’t know that money is available.”

Stefan Solaris made the honour roll as a Grade 10 student and earned the John Tait Memorial Scholarship for the highest mark in the transportation technology course TTJ2O.

“I feel good. I feel proud,” Solaris said. “It’s a very good opportunity for the school, to receive these awards from people in our community.

“I like to prove that people in a small town can make it.”

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Joseph Quigley is a staff writer with The Highlander. Joseph is always digging hard for news stories and covers all the latest happenings in the County of Haliburton. He believes in the importance of local news, finding more to every story and listening to marginalized voices. When he’s not working on news, Joseph finds himself getting all-too engaged in social media and cheering on his favourite Toronto Maple Leafs.