Haliburton Highlands Secondary School (HHSS) principal Jenn Mills borrowed from Dr. Seuss when congratulating the Red Hawks’ 2024 graduating class last week, saying, “you will succeed, yes you will indeed, you will move mountains.”

It was a packed house inside the HHSS athletic complex June 27 as the community came together to celebrate 86 graduating students.

Armed with the classic Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Mills reeled off some advice for her now former students – telling them to trust the years of lessons received at HHSS and elsewhere.

“My hope is the lessons you’ve learned in and out of the classroom throughout your elementary and secondary careers will stay with you and help set you on your way… you have brains in your head and feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose,” Mills said.

She said one of the most important things to achieving success is setting goals – even little ones.

“Some days it might just be getting out of bed, others it’ll be figuring out what to do with your life and how to get there,” Mills said. “Don’t wait for life to happen to you. You need to put the work in and set yourself on a direction to achieve everything you want for yourself.”

Vice principal Martin Gage said it’s OK for graduates to fail, as long as they pick themselves back up and keep trying.

“You’ve reached the top of one mountain. Now it’s time to find another one to climb. Most of you already have some pretty solid plans – entering the workforce, going to college or university, working towards an apprenticeship, or exploring the world. These plans will lead you down different pathways… there’s many ways to make meaningful contributions to the world,” Gage said.

Valedictorian Abi Lewis encouraged her classmates to chase their dreams and stay true to who they are, no matter how tough the path gets. She was one of five students to receive school letters for academic excellence, along with Brody Bolger, Olivia Humphries, Lily Manning and Marley Mariani.

Bolger received the principal’s award for student leadership, with Humphries earning the lieutenant governor’s award for community service. Cameron Level received the governor general’s academic medal. Eight students graduated with specialist high skills majors in hospitality and tourism, with nine earning environment credits, and nine others receiving the extended French certificate. Thirty-four students made the honour roll, for students who graduate with an average mark of 80 per cent or higher.