Congratulations to the Class of 2017

First graduation of School District 73’s season a big night for small school and community

It might have a small class of students but Barriere Secondary School has a community with big heart behind it.

Almost 500 people filled the Barriere Curling Club Friday night and loudly cheered the success of 29 of their young people, Grade 12 graduates who are moving from high school to bigger things.

“We are extremely proud of all your achievements, and you should be as well,” School District 73 (Kamloops-Thompson) Board Trustee Rhonda Kershaw told the students. “To the class of 2017, congratulations, and the best wishes for your future.”

Nathan Matthew, Chief of the Simpcw First Nation, said it was a great evening, being able to celebrate the achievements of this class.

“Education is a transformative piece in our lives. It can change us for the better,” he said.

Keira Eustache, the valedictorian for her class, said when she was in Grade 10, she wasn’t sure that she wanted to stay in Barriere, adding she thought that “bigger schools” in Kamloops might offer her a better education.

She chose to stay.

“Now I know I made the right decision, and I am very honoured to be standing here today,” she said.

A key moment in the evening was the nomination of a former Barriere graduate to the secondary school’s Wall of Distinction.  Dr. Darby Ewashini, a graduate from the Barriere Class of 2006, is now a doctor studying neuropsychiatry.  The school’s wall honours alumni who have gone on and made significant contributions in their chosen field.

Ewashini told the grads, by way of a pre-recorded video, that it is important to take the time they need to figure out where they want to go in life.

“I’m super-pumped for you guys, you made it!  But if you are sitting there, just as I was 11 years ago, unsure of what you are supposed to be doing now, that’s OK,” she said. “You need to make sure you find something that you are passionate about, and go for it.  Work hard at something that brings you joy and pleasure in life.”

Barriere Secondary Vice-Principal Melanie Dumas said this year’s graduating students are the beneficiaries of a very generous community.  Eleven students were awarded almost $50,000 in bursaries and scholarships, with almost all of the funds coming from local businesses.

“This community really, really likes the school. They really like to be involved,” she said.

The graduation ceremony was the first of the season for School District 73.