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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Two EPS valedictorians send graduates off to high school

by Sylene Argent

This week, Essex Public School (EPS) will release a video that congratulates its graduates.

  EPS has selected two valedictorians to send their classmates off into their futures; Molly Cacilhas and Colin Pyne.

  Cacilhas and Pyne were fond of the time they spent at EPS, so they are both excited to be responsible for sending their classmates off onto the next level of learning.

  “I wanted to be valedictorian. I was very excited when I learned [I was selected],” she said.

  The co-valedictorians are going to use their speeches to talk about the memories they were able to make with their classmates along the years, in addition to acknowledging their teachers and parents for all the support and guidance.

  Cacilhas said some of her favourite memories at EPS include watching the rock concert that teachers hosted during an assembly, the fun times had with friends on bus rides to field trips, being involved as a flutist in the school band for four years, singing in the choir, and going to Canada’s Wonderland on a band trip. She also enjoyed being on the basketball, volleyball, soccer, track, cross country, badminton, and skipping teams.

  Being really involved, made going to school a great experience, Cacilhas said. She also enjoyed being a part of the School Council because it gave her a voice in decision-making.

  Her favourite subject was gym, because of her love of sports. She also enjoyed math class because she likes solving problems. She will be taking enriched math in high school, which she is looking forward to. As a Red Raider, she hopes to get on some of the high school’s sports teams.

  She said she is going to miss her teachers, because they were all generous and nice. EPS educators, she said, made the environment comfortable.

  One of Cacilhas’s favourite parts of her speech is when she noted, “Our time in the phoenix next has expired, it’s time to spread our wings and soar with excellence and pride,” which is based on the EPS motto. She also used the opportunity to encourage her classmates to not give up.

  Pyne said his speech focuses on memories and moving onto high school. Memories include all the way back to kindergarten when he and his classmates participated in a gingerbread hunt. He also speaks about shopping at the annual holiday market held in the school gym, and that time Mr. Lamb jumped on a desk and growled at the class while reading a book.

  He also says in the speech, “It is important to remember that you are only confined by the walls you build. If you are willing to put in the effort and hard work, nothing can stop you,” he said.

  “It makes me happy to remember, but sad because we are leaving it behind,” Pyne said.

I will miss Essex Public School. There were great staff and great students.”

  In the classroom, Pyne enjoyed taking math, especially Algebra because he loves to solve problems. This year, he was a student rep on the Parent Council, he was on the cross-country team, and he was head rep of the eco-team.

  Pyne is looking forward to attending Essex District High School next year. “It’ll be fun. I’m a bit nervous because of having to leave [people behind] and being in a new school. It is a new start. It’ll be like being in kindergarten again.”

  As someone who likes to keep busy, Pyne, while a Red Raider, plans to join student council, he signed up for curling, wants to participate on the high school’s eco-team, and join the math club and the Rotary Interact Club as well.

  Advice he gives to students at EPS in younger grades is to not focus too hard on getting into high school. “Don’t rush it. Take your time and enjoy the road ahead.”

  In order for EPS to select its valedictorians, students had to write a different speech on how they kept in contact with friends and classmates during the pandemic.

  The co-valedictorians are looking forward to seeing the graduation video, where their pre-recorded speeches will be included in the official send off.

  EPS grade eight teachers Mrs. Barry and Mr. Demchuk said this year’s graduating class was the first class to participate in virtual learning for over the past three months. They were challenged by a new way of learning, which allowed them to show their perseverance. Prior to leaving for March Break, they had grown as students and as people, but it wasn’t until distance learning started that they demonstrated just how resilient they were.

  Pyne said virtual learning has been hard. At first it wasn’t that bad, but he found it easier to procrastinate from home. “It’s all about managing yourself,” he said, noting he implemented a rearward chart to keep on track.

  “It’s been stressful in keeping up with online school and getting work done. I’m missing everyone in the classroom, including teachers,” Cacilhas said of online learning. She is hoping to be able to get back to playing softball with her travel team this summer.

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