General Amherst High School celebrates 95th annual graduation

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Approximately 160 students have bid farewell to General Amherst High School.

The public high school’s 95th commencement ceremony was held Thursday night at the Libro Centre. The students will be off to a wide variety of post-secondary education opportunities in the fall but reflected on their four years as General Amherst Bulldogs.

Valedictorian Ruben Tar told his fellow graduates “we did it!” and that four years of hard work paid off. He told his fellow graduates and the large crowd of parents, grandparents, guardians and siblings that it was 1,389 days since they entered General Amherst High School for the first time as students.

Valedictorian Ruben Tar gives a thumbs up during his address at the June 29 General Amherst graduation.

Valedictorian Ruben Tar gives a thumbs up during his address at the June 29 General Amherst graduation.

Those first days were awkward, he recalled, as they didn’t know where to go but they also enjoyed newfound freedoms.

Tar noted the growth they made over their four years of high school, sharing memories along the way of events both in and out of the classroom.

“It couldn’t have been the best four years of my life without the unforgettable memories with all of you,” said Tar.

It is “now time to move forward,” said Tar, noting that while many of the graduates will never cross paths again, their “Bulldog pride” will forever bind them together.

“Your hopes, dreams and goals are now attainable because of who you are,” said Tar. “It is up to you to overcome your fears and make your dreams a reality.”

Ashley Matlock not only graduated , but she also sang “O Canada” prior to the start of General Amherst’s graduation at the Libro Centre.

Ashley Matlock not only graduated , but she also sang “O Canada” prior to the start of General Amherst’s graduation at the Libro Centre.

Tar added he was proud of his fellow graduates and believed they have the strength and passion to lead others.

Principal Hazel Keefner, speaking at her final graduation before she retired, recalled the students being told that they would get out of high school what you put into it. Keefner encouraged the graduates to use the skills they learned during their four years at General Amherst and apply them going forward.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” said Keefner. “That advice is from our friend Dr. Seuss.”

Keefner said she was proud to have been the head of General Amherst during the graduates’ four years.

“It has truly been an honour being your principal and I wish you all the best,” Keefner told the class of 2017.

General Amherst principal Hazel Keefner addresses the graduates and their parents. Keefner has now retired.

General Amherst principal Hazel Keefner addresses the graduates and their parents in what was her final graduation before retirement.

Erin Kelly, director of education with the Greater Essex County District School Board, noted that Keefner was “graduating in a different way” and said she was a fine role model for the students.

The graduates were undergoing a “rite of passage,” said Kelly, adding thanks also goes to the families of the graduates for their support as well as the teachers who taught them.

“Be proud of where you have been and where you are going,” Kelly told the graduates.

Kelly also urged graduates to challenge ideas and to make the world a better place.

“Be kind to others,” Kelly added. “Kindness will always get you far.”

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