By Adam Eisenbarth
It was the night so many students were anticipating as Bentley School Grade 12 students celebrated their graduation at the Bentley Ag Centre.
The evening was a reflection of the years the students spent together in the classroom. As they sat on stage, May 29, they received speeches of congratulations and encouragement to pursue their dreams.
“What I want to share with you tonight is really quite simple,” said guest speaker and Wolf Creek Public School board chair Lorrie Jess. “You need to dream big, do what you love, laugh when you can, apologize when you should, let go of what you can’t change, play fair, forgive quickly, take chances, give everything and have no regrets.
“In my soon to be 50 years, I figured out that life is far too short to be anything but happy.”
Students Duncan Henry and Jenna Seater, reflected on a number of stories and shenanigans the class of 2010 was involved in.
“So around diploma time, everyone gets a little stressed,” recalled Seater. “And Morgan, she got really stressed. This resulted in her crying when her calculator broke.”
Henry followed with a memory of his own.
“How about the time Megan decided she didn’t want to play the game we were playing and told Mr. Moore to ‘shove it,’ using other chosen words.”
Parents had plenty to be proud of, and assistant principal Ian McLaren said the staff felt like proud parents as well on the special evening.
“We really do because when we talk about the students in the staff room we don’t talk about ‘those students,’ the terminology is they’re ‘our kids’ and ‘your kids’ and we’re talking about our students. I don’t know if that’s unique in a small school but that’s the way it is for us.”
The small size of Bentley School is the main reason for the family feeling and McLaren says it’s a feeling that few schools can boast.
“I think that’s the advantage of being a small school. It’s one of the things we’re very proud of. There are bigger schools that can operate maybe fancier programs with the bells and whistles but they’re not going to get the personal attention that they get here.”
The group of students has clearly come together over their many years together.
“They’re all great and very supportive,” said valedictorian Morgan Anderson of her classmates, adding the family feeling to the school is something she’ll miss most. “All the teachers know who you are.”
McLaren read a speech prepared by principal Lane Moore, who could not attend due to poor driving conditions in Calgary.
“This class has always been dedicated to being involved in everything they could be, from academics, some with more than 140 credits, athletics, playing on as many teams as possible to school activities. They’ve always been committed to being the best that they could be,” on Moore’s behalf. “I have thoroughly enjoyed these students and will never forget them.”
The class of 2010 was one of the bigger graduating groups the school has had, with 36 students, but still the group was close.
“This is a group that since they were in their early, early grades, this has always been a very strong group both academically and socially,” McLaren said.
Keeping some sort of contact with the students should not be a challenge he added.
“There’s always a connection in a small community where you may never see these students again if they decide to move away to the big city, but you’ll see their parents and their little brothers and sisters.”
The night was capped with a number of awards and scholarships being handed out. For McLaren, it was a great evening.
“It’s a very exciting moment, we just have to make sure they come back for the rest of the (school) year.”