VCI Class of 2023 : The Next Adventure

By Gregg Chamberlain - EAP
VCI Class of 2023 : The Next Adventure
The Class of 2023 of Vankleek Collegiate Institute includes more than five dozen students who are now ready for the next adventure in their lives. —photo Gregg Chamberlain (Photo : Édition André Paquette)

More than five dozen students of Vankleek Collegiate Institute leave behind their alma mater and head out into the world.

«You are now on your way to new adventures and the choice is yours,» said Trustee Corina Parisien, representing the Upper Canada District School Board, during the June 27 graduation ceremony for Vankleek Collegiate Institute’s (VCI) Class of 2023.

VCI Principal Christie Walker observed that this year’s graduates over the past four years have had to deal with and adjust to several «new normal» versions their school life, before, during, and after the pandemic. She noted that, while scrolling through the school’s Facebook page, the one thing that impressed her the most was how this year’s graduating class learned and worked at «staying connected» with each other and the community during the lockdown and continued to stay connected after the public health restrictions were lifted and in-person classes and get-togethers outside of class were allowed again.

«The power of human connection is important for physical, social, and mental health,» she said, adding that «the key to connecting to others is connecting to yourself first» and also «deciding how you are going to show up in the world.»

«Stay connected,» Principal Walker said. «To your family, your friends, the community, and to yourself.»

Words of advice

Following the presentation of diplomas, certificates, and various scholarships and bursaries, graduates received a few final words of wisdom.

«This is a moment of reflection and celebration,» said Valedictorian Olivia St-Denis, adding that the years of the pandemic taught her and other students the power of perseverance in all things.

«We were challenged, physically, mentally, and emotionally,» she said, «but we came back stronger every time.»

In addition to being valedictorian for the Class of 2023, St-Denis is also VCI’s winner of the Governor General’s Academic Medal. Fellow graduate Jordan Anderson received the Ontario Principals Council Award, the Principal’s Trophy, and the Centennial Bursary.

Wall of Fame

Every year staff and students at VCI try to add a new name and face to the Wall of Fame display of past VCI alumni. This year’s addition is Dr. Ghislain Marleau, who offered a few observations to the Class of 2023.

«Being bilingual opens up so many doors,» said Dr. Marleau, noting that he is originally from the Village of St-Bernardin in what is now The Nation Municipality, and worked hard at his ability to work in both official languages. He credited his teachers at VCI with helping him work towards his goals and dreams.

«In the end,» he said, «being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.»

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