Celebrating the class of 2020

by Glen Herbert

It’s graduation time, and we’re happy to report three important celebrants this year. Gabby Ollivierre has graduated from SAIT with a diploma in professional cooking. She’s a chef. Kadeen Hazell has graduated from flight school, having earned a commercial license. He’s a pilot.

And this: Rhea Simmons is graduating high school in Ontario. Four years ago she began a great, challenging, interesting, at times difficult adventure when she enrolled at Lakefield College. There she joined a group of peers from more than 40 countries, though despite the international, cultural, and linguistic diversity, she later recalled that “the school is a really big family and I got used to the people really quickly, and made friends.”

When I visited, Rhea’s self-portrait was displayed in a glass case outside the art room, there with portraits of other students. They were faces of young people, all looking out toward their future, or so it was easy to imagine. Rhea pictured herself wearing a favourite necklace with a turtle pendant, a subtle visual reminder of how far she had come. “Our philosophy of education rests on our belief that students learn best through trusting relationships,” said Anne-Marie Kee, head of Lakefield, recently when discussing the remote learning program necessitated by the pandemic. Rhea hasn’t just graduated a program, she’s also become part of a long, proud legacy of positive, caring relationships.

Oh the places they’ll go …

It’s easy to think of graduation as an ending, though of course it’s a beginning, too. Gabby will continue on into a career as a chef, an indeed that’s already begun—she’s apprenticing at Joey Barlow in Calgary toward completing her Red Seal certification. Kadeen will be in the air, at first completing flight hours required for licensing, this because of the disruption in his program due to the pandemic. Rhea has been accepted to a university program in Canada, and will begin a new life there, in time. So, there are more adventures, and even better adventures, still to come.

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