Haliburton Highlands Secondary School held its 2023 graduation June 29. This year’s graduating class had 105 students. Graduate Brooklyn Sidsworth sang the national anthem at the ceremony.

The graduation was filled with laughter and tears as the grads start the next chapter of their lives. Vice principal Martin Gage kicked off the ceremony followed by some advice from principal Jennifer Mills.

Mills told the graduates, “even though you now don’t have our guidance, it is okay to ask for help, it shows a great amount of strength to ask for help when you need it.”

She added, “every little detail matters just like in Mrs. Klose’s math class.”

Trustee Gary Brohman, a former HHSS principal, advised students to, “be resilient when life gets tough… And don’t forget, “Once a hawk always a hawk.”

During the honours and awards section, dozens of HHSS graduates received individual subject awards, school letters, certifications in specialist high skills major, extended French certificates, certificates in technological education or being a member of the honour society and achieving an 80 per cent average in their graduating year.

Even though many students were awarded, a few graduates stuck out by winning multiple awards. Sophie Longo garnered 11 gongs, with some of those being the Honours Society, the Gary G. Brohman award for student leadership, and the Governor General’s Academic award for the student graduating with the highest overall average. Mya Jones, Matthew Wilson, Hunter Barry, and Colleen Petric also received multiple awards at the ceremony.

Valedictorian, Matthew Wilson, told his fellow graduates, “in life, we often talk about formality, how we should dress a certain way and act a certain way. All that is a lie, everyone is unique in their own way, this is exemplified through our time here at Hal High.”

He finished his address by saying, “as we stepped on the stage today, our time here has officially come to an end, but as we walk across the stage and down those steps, it marks the start of our next chapter.”