By Kirk Winter

Archie Stouffer Elementary School in Minden hosted a virtual ceremony for their Grade 8 graduates June 21, featuring addresses by departing principal Jane Austin and valedictorian Emily Fitzell.

Dozens of deserving students were also recognized for their academic success, hard work, citizenship and willingness to help others.

Austin, who is moving to Ridgewood Elementary School in Coboconk this fall, reminded students that they were “transitioning from one part of their education to another.”

Austin spoke of choices the students will make and the impact those decisions will have on their future.


“Choices you make will lead you in directions you may have never imagined. The trick is to be confident and brave. Embrace opportunity. Look for adventure. Make the best choices with the information that you have and if you need more information take the time to seek it out so that you have what you need to make the best decision for you.”

Fitzell took the graduating class on a trip down memory lane in her address, reminding students of the shared experiences they have had together over the last 10 years. Fitzell spoke fondly of trips to the Yearley Outdoor Education Centre, sports that got a little too competitive, exploding pumpkins and the antics of friends that brought a smile to everyone’s faces.

“Archie (Stouffer) has not only taught us … math and science,” Fitzell continued, “but over these years has also taught us valuable lessons in patience, collaboration, courage, confidence, compromise, perseverance and responsibility. All of these have helped us prepare for the last year or so that no one could have predicted. We have gone from one routine to another, in school to online, over and over again. Just when we got used to one routine we would have to switch to another one. This, my classmates, has taught us resilience and we nailed it.”

The program was capped off by 25 different Archie Stouffer graduates being recognized with awards that included having an average of 75 per cent or greater, 80 per cent or greater and individual subject recognition for excellence in the arts, mathematics, English, French, science, geography and history. Nicole Lee was the only dual-subject winner being recognized for proficiency in French and the arts.


The highlight of the afternoon was the presentation of the Grade 8 honours awards with the following students being selected by staff as deserving:

• Academic Excellence Award – Logan Beers, Emily Fitzell, Nicole Lee, Alissa Mantle.

• Alan Walker Memorial Award for demonstrated citizenship – Miles Bascombe.

• Character Education Award – Adam Davis, Quinn Higgins.

• Sarah Bloomfield Award presented to a student who is always a spark in the classroom – Andy Lippolis.

• Principal All-Round Student Award for a student who has demonstrated excellence in academics, leadership, citizenship and extra-curricular activities – Emery Bagshaw.

• Arcadia Masonic Lodge Award for students who have worked hard to succeed—Dalton Fairey, Aaron Neave.

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