There were 13 grads at the PASS/Woodwinds Alternate School and Continuing Education Center’s graduation ceremony held June 14 and those students who were handed diplomas had many family members and community supporters in the room feeling their pride and sense of accomplishment.
There were no caps and gowns, but the ceremony at the Parksville Conference and Community Centre had plenty of spirit and the low key family affair was indicative of how the school operates.
Principal Joe Panichelli expressed thanks to the community which he said has continued to support and embrace their school.
School District 69 (Qualicum) trustee Eve Flynn told the grads they have all exhibited drive and determination that she hopes will not stop and will continue to carry them forward to many new and rewarding pursuits.
“Every day you made a conscious decision to come to school and connect with your teachers and be engaged in your learning. Some of you have children and some have jobs but you all continued to focus on getting to graduation,” said Flynn.
Several scholarships and bursaries were distributed to students, many of them already starting their post secondary education.
Jayla Marshall had her name called out many times, taking home several awards or scholarships including the QDPVPA award, scholarships from MATA, The Parksville Lions Club, The Ministry of Education, Dogwood, and Knights of Columbus.
Marshall started at PASS three years ago and in a speech to the audience, thanked her teachers for bringing her out of her shell.
“I have learned responsibility and balance and I know I will do well at VIU,” she told the gathering.
Marshall cleaned up on scholarships and awards and in an interview admitted she would not have succeeded in the district’s other high schools.
“I was in Ballenas for one semester and I didn’t like it at all. A friend of mine told me about PASS. It is a lot smaller, so I checked it out and I ended up going and really liking it.”
The graduate who eventually wants to become a teacher had nothing but praise for her mentors.
“The teachers have time to listen to you and help you … it is really great. The teachers would get me to go on trips and they really got me out of my shell,” she emphasized.
Marshall is registered at VIU for a Bachelor of Arts and is working on getting some prerequisites.
“I am going to get a Major in English, a Minor in Psychology and I want to study Japanese and get a Bachelor of Education.”
She agreed her teachers played a big role in her career choice.
“They really love their job and I would love to do that too … and make a difference for all the other students,” she acknowledged.