EDSS students, family and friends gathered last week for the first convocation and awards ceremony since before the pandemic.
The 2022 graduating class consisted of some 260 students, while 30 awards for leadership and academic achievement were handed out at the June 23 ceremony at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira.
Principal Brad Marsh highlighted the “confusing time” the graduates went through over the last two years.
“We had a couple of years of online learning, we flipped back in person. And we were out of the classroom again. And we started doing teams and clubs and events. And then we had to stop that for a while. And then we went back into the classroom. And we got to the point where we could meet together tonight to do this,” Marsh said.
“The skills that you’ve been able to show and that you’ve been able to truly adapt to everything that you’ve come up with is fantastic. No one else has ever thought that we would deal with the things that you dealt with over your last few years in high school. That you persevered is fantastic – it goes beyond what you will do well as you move on to your next phase of life,” he said.
Marsh cautioned the students about comparing themselves to others as they move forward.
“Success is not meant to be a unit of measurement. And what I mean by that is that you should not compare what you do to someone else. To paraphrase the words of Abraham Lincoln, whatever you do going forward, your goal is to do it well. Be good at it and you will be successful.”
Valedictorian Ethan Horst said he and his classmates have been thinking about this moment since they were kids.
“This is something that always felt so close yet so far. We as a class made it through so many pivotal and impactful moments having to go through numerous lockdowns and online school. I’m even sure we can look back at the things that brought us down and how we came back stronger,” he said.
Horst also asked the class to look back on some of the positive moments during their time at the school, such as the boys’ varsity basketball team getting its first win in five years.
“It’s important that we enjoy these moments because today is about us and all the work we had to do to get here. We are the class of ’22. We’re all special in our own type of way,” he added.
In an interview this week Horst said it meant a great deal to be named the valedictorian.
“I wanted the people to have someone that they really wanted to go up there and speak for them. I hadn’t heard about valedictorian up until maybe the day before voting had started. But then once I realized that it was student-voted and teacher-voted. I thought, ‘hey, why not go for this? I’m sure people would want to hear me talk,’” he laughed.
The experience at EDSS was “overall, pretty fun.”
“Especially this last year was probably the best one. Just the most involvement [I’ve had] and I got to see a lot of friends again after the year that I hadn’t seen them, so it was pretty good.”
One thing that Horst became known for was doing raps whenever he had a multimedia assignment.
“It started back in Grade 9 for an English assignment. We were reading Romeo and Juliet as one of our Shakespeare units, and our teacher introduced a media assignment and essentially you just had to talk about the characters in any sort of way or form that you wanted. So I had the idea that I’d make a rap battle out of it with some other friends and we basically acted as if we were the characters – everyone loved it.
“As the years went on, I became more creative as I went through it, and I got better at it too. It was just enjoyable.
Horst plans on taking a gap year before returning to school to pursue a career in sports media.
Leadership award winners included Jesse Chamberlain, Ashley Hiller, Alyssa Gadsby, Kyle Stirbetm, Kieran Stewart, Marissa Gingrich, Morgan Fleet, (who won two) Lucas Carson, Teesha Weber, Liam Eveleigh, Liam Moyer, Brydon Dickieson, Ethan Horst, Evelyne Jewitt-Dyck, CJ Brubacher, Emmett Horne, Caitlin Kennedy and Jamie Crawford.
Academic award winners included Josephine Brown, Nicole Musselman, Sonia Snyder (who won two), Evelyne Jewitt-Dyck (also winning two), Kennedy Bradley, Holden Ford, Atticus Storey, Justin Martin, Christian Economides, Alyssa Ratthe, Georgia Cronin, Jessica Loreem, Rachel Brubacher, Lavon Eby, Amilya Wilson, Keaton Borutskie, Wade Ogram and Ashton Weber.