Hunting Hills High School graduates donned their caps and gowns on Friday and celebrated their past and future.
Just over 300 students took to the stage at Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre to receive their diplomas during two staggered ceremonies.
Angela Sommers, vice-chair of Red Deer Public School Board, said since they were the first generation to have the Internet their entire lives, they are a force to be reckoned with.
“You kids were connected all throughout the world, making friends with people from different cultures and different continents and breaking biases society has been struggling with for eternity. Talking to each other and sharing your human experiences has created huge growth in our culture,” Sommers told the students at the 10 a.m. ceremony.
She reminded them of the stigmas overcome on their watch, including mental health, queer rights, Indigenous truth and reconciliation and racism.
“The reality is you are probably the kindest, fairest and most honest generation of all time because of the Internet. Social justice is what your generation is all about.
“I know your sensitivity will heal our planet.”
Sommers said for the first time during her life, a younger generation is now the majority in Alberta, and with more Gen Zers becoming adults every day, the compassionate world she dreams of can be a reality.
“So now that we know that you can make a difference with your numbers alone, use your right to vote. Don’t let one election go by without participating.”
Valedictorian Janie Tong reminded her fellow high school graduates to remember both the good times as well as the bad.
“As much as we want to forget them, it is in these moments in times of hardship where we truly grew, where our persistence and ability to overcome challenges stem from. It is in these moments that we listen to our values and find our true sense of self and identity,” Tong said.
She said overcoming difficulties gives students in the graduating class the confidence to begin to shape their lives and figure out who they are and who they want to be.
Superintendent Chad Erickson said Red Deer Public Schools recognizes that graduation is an important milestone in a young adult’s life.
“Graduation is not only a celebration of the hard work and dedication of students, but the start of the next chapter in their lives. We know our students will move on to do great things, and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours,” Erickson said in a statement.
Hunting Hills principal Darwin Roscoe said the graduates have demonstrated extreme resilience and commitment, and the school is excited to celebrate their dedication and achievement.