Kim Williams, superintendent of learning at Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB), said she always looks forward to adult education graduations.

She attended McKeck’s Tap & Grill June 26 as the Haliburton Adult and Alternative Education Centre said goodbye to 21 graduates last week.

“Today is your day, as Dr. Seuss said. You have great places you’re all heading off to,” Williams said. “The one thing I love about coming to these graduations is hearing all the personal stories about the journeys you have been on, the challenges you’ve overcome. The skills you have to navigate through life – it’s taken perseverance, you’ve had to stay focused on a goal despite all the other things happening around you… so let me be the first to say, congratulations.”

Lori Sargent, teacher and head admin at the Haliburton site, said she and fellow teacher, Greg Shantz, have gotten to know this year’s graduates well as they worked towards their high school diploma.

While circumstances, often beyond the students’ control, led them to the AAEC program, she credited the graduates for putting in the required work and helping to create a positive atmosphere at the Haliburton campus.

“Acceptance is a big word at our school. Everyone has their own journey, you’ve all had to learn to paddle your own canoe to get here. We accepted one another and celebrated what we’re going to do next,” Sargent said.

Lisa Uuldriks, principal of all TLDSB adult education programming, was also in attendance. She likened the graduates to butterflies – saying they’re now the best versions of themselves, ready to go out into the world.

Several awards were presented – Jazzalynne West received the Joshua Rewa award of distinction, Kayden Colligan the Joshua Rewa memorial post-secondary bursary, Curtis Hoare the math and science award, Tyler Ewing the effort in the workplace award for his placement at Medeba, Elizabeth Lemieux for academic commitment and dedication, and Jason Thomas the work placement award.

Other graduates include Dana Black, Evan Carpenter, Aiden Conlin, Marcus Edwards, Liam Finnie, Hannah Huffman, Tess Husbands, Logan Kennedy, Christian Lemieux, Pharen Richardson, Amelia Somerville, Carter Stamp, Ryan Tanaka, Seth Winstanley, and Jocelyn Winter.

Husbands, reading the graduate address written by Black, who didn’t attend, said her fellow graduates should be proud of their achievements.

“It takes bravery to go against the trend, to seek out what you need to be successful. It’s a gamble – you don’t really know what will work for you, but we all took the leap. My advice is to remember this lesson as you move forward in life,” Husbands said. “You’ve already shown you can go against the tide and do what is best for you.

“We may have faced setbacks or doubts along the way, but those things have gotten us here today… on this journey to success,” she added.