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KDSS grads told no limit to what they can accomplish in grand adventure of adulthood

By: Liz Dadson
October 10, 2017

The Kincardine District Secondary School graduating class was told there is no limit to what each and every one of them can accomplish out there in the grand adventure that is adulthood.

That was the word from Sophia Tomaini and Sam Colquhoun, as they delivered their valedictorian address to their fellow graduates at Commencement, held Friday night at KDSS.

In an upbeat and humorous speech, they noted that this is the second time they have been valedictorians, as they were also chosen when they graduated from Grade 8 at Huron Heights Public School.

"The nightmare that was our Grade 8 speech hangs over our heads like a dark cloud," joked Sophia.

"We sincerely hope that we can take this opportunity to redeem ourselves," added Sam.

They took the graduates down memory lane, from their first arrival at KDSS in 2013, through a "gauntlet of screaming upper-years," to Grade 10 when they complained about the Grade 9s. Then Grade 11 when Sophia had an exchange student come to Kincardine. "The exchange students opened our eyes to different perspectives and gave us an opportunity to proudly show off our town and school," she said.

And then, Grade 12, when the big decision to be made was where to apply for post-secondary education, said Sophia. "In actuality, the life lessons that we took away far outweighed the equations and vocab words that we so diligently studied."

They thanked their teachers for their hard work and commitment, their parents for believing in them and encouraging them to achieve whatever they set their minds to, and their classmates. "We have been together for such a long time, and we've only solidified our relationships that have existed since Kindergarten," said Sophia.

"Just because we are from a small town doesn't mean that we are limited," said Sam. "You have the potential to sculpt not only your own future, but the world around you."

"Looking out at this graduating class, I can see many people who have already done so many amazing things," added Sophia, "but what’s really amazing is that with the values and skills you’ve all acquired in your short time here, there is no limit to what each and every one of you can accomplish out there in the grand adventure that is adulthood."

The ceremony opened with the graduates being piped in by Nathan Smith of the Kincardine Scottish Pipe Band, followed by Morgan Ritchie singing "O Canada."

Principal Mark Ozorio welcomed everyone, and Bluewater District School Board trustee Jan Johnstone brought greetings.

The MCs, Jennie Evans and Dan Ogilvie, then proceeded with the awards and presentation of Grade 12 diplomas.

The following graduates won awards at Commencement:
  • D.P. Arscott student leadership scholarship, Sam Colquhoun
  • Beta Sigma Phi (Epsilon/Alpha chapter) award for excellence in a co-op program, Cassie Wall
  • Beta Sigma Phi (Xi/Zeta/Gamma chapters) award for making a significant contribution to the school, Bethan Killin
  • Bruce County Conservationists award for a student continuing his/her studies at the post-secondary level, Kody Thompson
  • Bruce County Federation of Agriculture award for a student who is working or studying in the field of agriculture, Griffin Williamson
  • Bruce Peninsula Art Show bursary for talented artists who display their work at the Civic Holiday Show, Sophia Tomaini
  • Bruce Power Leadership award for a student going into a technical or business program who demonstrated leadership and contributed to the school and community, Jed Gonzales
  • Bruce Power award for Female Student entering Skilled Trades or Technologies, Becky Hodgins
  • Bruce Power Future Innovator award for a student who achieves high academic results and who shows passion and promise in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, Ben Christie
  • Canadian Federation of University Women award for high academic achievement and personal determination, Emily Eybergen
  • Compass Group School Dining award for a student who has overcome some personal or academic challenges on the way to graduation, Kierra Christiansen and Lucy Matheson
  • Bruce County agricultural scholarship, Griffin Williamson
  • Creative Hands award, in memory of Amanda Alexander who was a KDSS graduate, awarded to a student who is going into a creative career path, Avy Mowle
  • Dr. A.E.H. Couch bursaries for graduates entering medical field or biological sciences, Hayli Charette and Jane Miller
  • Davey-Linklater Funeral Home bursary for student entering funeral service or health sciences program, Brady Masur
  • NEW - DELF French award,  awarded to students who participated in International French oral and written exams, with proficiency, Chris Coady, Cailyn McKay and Annika VanVeen
  • Audrey and Lester Ferguson award for a student furthering his/her studies in social sciences, Morgan Robertson
  • Rob Gleeson Mathematics award for a graduate who displays a genuine enthusiasm for math outside the course content, Avery Fitzgerald
  • Grant Helm scholarship for high-ranking student who has lived in Kincardine Township, Bruce Township or Tiverton for at least 10 years, Katie Franklin
  • Vernon Hodgins Memorial Scholarship in Agriculture for a student who demonstrates a value for the education of future farmers who will keep agriculture viable for generations, Griffin Williamson
  • NEW - Jennifer Cook and Associates Scholarship, awarded to students who competed locally and won the Co-operators Financial Literacy challenge, "Thrive Time for Teens; there is an additional prize for a regional winner, Ivy Cook and Avery Fitzgerald
  • KC Automotive Parts scholarship for a student continuing in automotive technology, Adam Ballagh
  • Kincardine Hawthorne Community Clinic Physicians Group award for high-achieving students entering the medical field, Lauren Andrews and Darby Chalmers
  • KDSS Certificates of Excellence and Merit in academics, athletic and extracurricular activities, Rylee Evans, Avery Fitzgerald and Belle Wilson
  • KDSS Graduating Class of 1986-87 award for a graduate who overcame challenges along the way to graduation, Aidan Chapleau
  • KDSS Home and School Association award, Belle Wilson
  • KDSS participation award, for enthusiastic participation in the KDSS development learning program - Brendan Barger
  • KDSS Students' Council Activity awards, Raza Hussein
  • KDSS Knight of the Year, Avery Fitzgerald
  • Kincardine Dairy Queen Skilled Trades Co-op award - Marcel Inauen
  • Kincardine inclusiveness and diversity award, Megan Grabas
  • Frederick Kirby Social Responsibility scholarship for a student attending a post-secondary institution who has demonstrated an attitude of respect for the human dignity of all people and participated in groups that seek to change the world, Delage Mowle
  • Alexander McKenzie award to a male student with the highest graduating average of those residing in one of the three northern townships of Huron County or three southern of Bruce, Chris Coady
  • Don and Irene MacKenzie award for a student who has resided in Huron Township, maintained academic standing and participated in school life, Lindsay Henkenhaf
  • MacKinnon academic awards for excellence in English, social sciences, Canadian and world studies, math and science, Will Sharpe and Annika VanVeen
  • Janice Matchett Financial Services business scholarship, Rainor Kuz
  • Matheson-Pioneers memorial scholarship for high academic standing and furthering studies at university, Jake Fair
  • Don and Doris Milne scholarship for maintaining high academic standing while contributing to the school, the community or both, Raza Hussein
  • Mohindra Family award of excellence in the area of science and mathematics, Chris Coady
  • A.E. Nelson scholarship for high-ranking student pursing a career in teaching, Annika VanVeen
  • Northern Light Lodge No. 93 bursary, Vivian Zablewski
  • Ontario Power Generation awards for students entering a technological program at college or university, Lindsay Henkenhaf and Rhys Vollmer
  • No. 253 Order of the Eastern Star (Bruce Chapter) award, Danica Wall
  • OSSTF District 7 award, Emily Eybergen
  • Clint Parker Memorial award, presented to a student who preferred shop class and may have overcome obstacles on the way to graduation, Dayn Freiburger
  • Principal's Leadership award for a student who shows outstanding leadership in the school community, Avery Fitzgerald
  • Professional Engineers Ontario, awarded to a student going into the engineering field, sponsored by the Georgian Bay Chapter of Professional Engineers Ontario and Bruce Power, Chris Coady
  • Leslie D. Ray scholarships for the top four graduates proceeding to university, Chris Coady (96.5%), Will Sharpe (96%), Avery Fitzgerald (95.5%), Sophia Tomaini (93.5%)
  • Retired Teachers of Ontario Community award, for a student who contributes to his/her school and community - Lauren Andrews
  • Ripley Legion Ladies' Auxiliary award for a student continuing his/her education and has resided in Huron Township or Ripley, Bethany Wilken
  • Ripley Shipping Association award for a student entering post-secondary education related to agriculture, Maggie Robinson
  • Rick Rock Memorial award, for a student who kind-heartedly assists those in need, without persuasion, or seeking recognition for his/her kindness, Delage Mowle
  • Rotary Business awards, Avery Fitzgerald and Madison McBride
  • Sauble Lodge #227 IOOF Tara Bursary for students from a Grade 12 program who have demonstrated academic commitment and are pursuing a post-secondary education, Makayla McGregor and Tanner Walker
  • Shoreline Artists Bursary, for a student continuing his/her studies at the post-secondary level in the field of art, Lindsay Glover
  • Snobelen Farms award, for a student either working or studying in the field of agriculture, Maggie Robinson
  • South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Kincardine, Auxiliary bursary for a student pursuing a post-secondary program allied to the medical field, Sam Thompson
  • Valedictorian award – Sam Colquhoun and Sophia Tomaini
  • West Wawanosh Agricultural award, Maggie Robinson
  • Gardiner Pioneer Scholarship for a student graduating with the highest average in his/her final year of high school, Chris Coady
  • Governor General's Academic medal for the student with the highest average in his/her graduating year, Chris Coady
  • KDSS Appreciation Award, Peter Wolfe, who is retiring after more than 30 years of teaching


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