Go with the flow.
That is the message valedictorians Lauren MacFarlane and Yael Stevens will deliver to the 2021 graduating class of Stelly’s Secondary School.
“Our theme throughout is uncertainty relating it back to when we were in Grade 9 coming into the school and how we are in the same position moving forward,” Stevens said.
Leaving high school and stepping into adulthood while navigating a pandemic and the uncertainties it has created can be daunting, MacFarlane added.
Stevens said many classmates are not sure what they should do next.
“Are they going to work? Are they going to go to school? That is the main idea in our speech, understanding that it is okay to be uncertain about what you want to do. And with time, you will discover what your passion is and what it is you want to go into.”
It isn’t clear how many students will do what at this point. “But we know that quite a few are going to post-secondary, but there also a lot of options at Camosun College with the trades program,” MacFarlane said.
A lot of students at Stelly’s have already worked toward a career in the trades, added Stevens. “A lot of people are ready to go work now.”
As one might suspect, this level of uncertainty in face of COVID-19 has not been without its personal and collective challenges.
“We lost motivation and that sense of community that also comes along with high school, that school spirit,” said MacFarlane. “I feel a lot of us felt alone and we didn’t understand that everyone else in our class was feeling that way.”
In fact, MacFarlane still grapples with her own sense of uncertainty. While she will be leaving for the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus to start a bachelor of arts degree, her more immediate goals are not yet clear. “I don’t know yet what I will major in – again the uncertainty, the unknown – but I hope to figure it out after the first or second year.”
By talking about it, she hopes to signal to her fellow graduates that it is okay to be uncertain and help them relax as they continue on their journey. “It is okay to take time to figure it out,” she said.
Stevens, who will be pursuing a bachelor of science in psychology at the University of Victoria, agrees with MacFarlane’s observation that this year’s class has grown along with the challenges created by COVID-19, becoming more independent and self-sufficient along the way.
“This just proves how resilient our grade class has been,” said Stevens.
“We have not only been through a lockdown (in Grade 11) and COVID-19 restrictions for our entire Grade 12 year and separation, we also had to manage the normal tasks of Grade 12 students – all the school work, the extra-curricular activities, applying for universities – and we have been able to do all of it at once. I think that bodes well for us in the future when things get tough and complicated.”
The graduating class will record their ceremony on June 12 with a car parade scheduled for June 30.
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