The Jaguars took to video June 23 to celebrate their Grade 8 graduation.

J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School Principal Andrea Borysiuk said, “This graduating class has stepped up and dug in. They’ve worked hard to make sure they’ve learned the valuable lessons we know they will require moving forward, like showing up on time and being prepared to do the hard work, that quality and effort and meeting a deadline are really important skills.”

She added they were always willing to lend a hand and get involved to make sure the school was inclusive, safe and a happy place to be. The principal said they’d been leaders throughout the school and had been instrumental in making sure events and activities ran smoothly.

“Graduates, please know that you are amazing. We are proud of your perseverance, your grit and your resilience. Over the past few months, we have learned important life lessons. Please remember them and practice them daily. Be patient and kind. You can learn, solve problems and create using your resourcefulness and the gift of togetherness should be cherished,” she said.

Trustee Gary Brohman also honoured parents and families, teachers and support staff. He offered a message about hope and perseverance, saying “It’s not how heavy the load is, it’s how you carry it … Graduates, I know things are hard right now but they will get better. In high school, you’ll do very, very well.”

The Class of 2020 had three valedictorians; Mikayla Sisson, Avery Degeer and Autumn Winder.

Mikayla said in part, “By experiencing so many different events and changes throughout our years at JDH, we’ve learned that sometimes we need to expect the unexpected and be able to improvise if something doesn’t go as planned. I’m sure many people are now thinking about the coronavirus pandemic that broke out this school year. This is just one of the many times we have had to come up with a plan B in order to continue with what was going on at the moment.”

Degeer recalled many good times, such as seeing the University of Brock, going to the top of the CN Tower, and riding Canada’s tallest roller coaster, on school trips.

Autumn touched on the experience of online learning. She said while tough, good had come out of it. She said they had developed new skills, which had made them more flexible and self-reliant. She joked parents had also saved a lot of money this year on dresses and tuxedoes.

She concluded, “We did it. We graduated. Now we can live the next chapters of our lives as a Red Hawk but part of us will always be a Jaguar. Congratulations class of 2020, you did it.”

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