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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Holy Name’s valedictorian will encourage peers to reach for their dreams and never give up


by Sylene Argent

At the beginning of the school year, Rachel Wilbee knew she wanted to become valedictorian of the graduating class at Holy Name Catholic Elementary School, because she enjoys being involved in school activities.

  When she learned those in her class who wanted a shot at filling the role had to write a speech to enter the nomination process, she got right to work to prepare what she hoped would be the words of inspiration that would send her classmates off into high school.

  When she learned her teachers selected her as class valedictorian, she was super excited. And, she is counting down the days to being able to put on the cap and gown and deliver her address.

  “The main message in my speech is kind of about reaching for your dreams and never giving up,” she said, adding it also highlights matters she and her classmates learned this year, in addition to challenges they overcame.

  Senior year had its snags, Wilbee said. Class trips and school activities got cancelled, but the teachers made online learning fun. “We’ve done different activities in class and they’ve done theme days, which was fun. They definitely made it, when we were in school, as fun as possible, so that we could still have grade eight events.”

  At school, Wilbee enjoyed participating in running events, like track and field and cross country. She also participated on the basketball team. Outside of school, she enjoyed playing hockey and softball, and got introduced to golf over the past year. Looking ahead, she hopes to try out for, and perhaps earn a spot, on a few teams at the high-school level.

  Not being able to connect with teammates, and friends at school, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, everyday has been hard, she admitted.

  When hitting the books, Wilbee especially enjoyed math class, “Because I feel like it is a challenge and there is always an answer to the problem, which I like.” She also enjoyed learning about different sciences.

  Moving onto high school, Wilbee said she will miss the teachers at Holy Name the most. “It will definitely be hard to go to a new school and meet new people. Some of my classmates, I may not see again because they are moving schools or moving towns. That will be hard.”

  Heading to Essex District High School, Wilbee is excited to explore a larger variety of subjects. “I m definitely excited to meet new people and teachers. That’ll be fun,” she said.

  In speaking to her peers about moving onto high school, Wilbee said, “I think they should take every opportunity, every challenge that is presented to them and work hard in all the subjects and different courses they take, because they don’t want to regret not being involved.”

  She added, “I really enjoy seeing everyone, every day. Sometimes you take it for granted, but you don’t actually see them, it is hard,” Wilbee said. “I really enjoyed the teachers at Holy Name. They were very encouraging, very supportive. It really helped my educational journey so far.”

  She is excited to see what the graduation video for her class will turn out like, and is looking forward to recording her speech for it. The Holy Name graduation video will be played during the virtual ceremony, which will take place on June 21.

  Life tips she learned at Holy Name that she will use to help her get through challenging times in the future, include asking for help when it is needed.

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