View From SD73: Grads — you’re off to great places

“You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!”
— Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

I attend graduation ceremonies with a mix of pride and nostalgia.

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As students, my wife and I both gathered on McArthur Island with our friends and family to celebrate this lifetime milestone.

When I attend a ceremony now, I think about my deceased parents and the love and support they gave me on my educational journey. I remember wondering if I was really ready for the next step in my life and what exactly that next step would be.

Daniela and I have now seen our own children celebrate this achievement in the same place as us. It’s a wonderful time of hope and excitement. Take a moment to savour and celebrate each student’s success.

A high school education is an achievement that positively affects the rest of your life.

I’ve met many successful and capable people who never had the opportunity or perhaps inclination to finish high school. Without exception, these people encourage students to pursue education because of the opportunity further training represents.

People with high school educations tend to earn more, live longer and are generally happier than those who don’t reach this milestone.

As a school trustee, I hope graduating students take the time to encourage their friends to get to this important benchmark.

Every student is welcome to return to complete high school or gain the equivalent at a local institution, such as TRU.

While students should take some pride in their successful completion of a public education, a modern economy will likely demand more training and skills than is attainable by Grade 12.

This means that graduation is both a time for celebration and an opportunity to map out the next steps on your educational journey.

While making a presentation at a high school law class, a student said to me, “So, if I go in to be a lawyer, I won’t finish until I’m 25?”

The tone in her voice implied that the age of 25 was some unfathomable march through time far too distant to contemplate.

I replied that I had a news flash for her: she was going to be 25. The only thing for her to decide is what she was going to be when she was 25. This is a great thinking exercise for any new graduate; what do you want the 25-year-old you to be and what is your plan to achieve that?

Graduating students in this region have a wide range of opportunities to choose from and their most important step is likely right in front of them.

There are challenging and rewarding careers in trades and technology, with many programs offered locally.

I was lucky enough to attend Cariboo College, which enabled me to complete the first two years of my undergraduate degree right here in Kamloops.

Leaving town to go to university was just not a financial option that I or my parents could afford.

Today, students can pursue full degrees in a wide range of academic subjects and even carry through to law school right here at TRU.

As one journey ends, another one begins.

Congratulations to all our graduates. You’ve made great strides, but there is much more ahead for you. This is the time in your life to invest in yourself, build your skills and attain your aspirations.

You’ll climb the next mountain like you conquer any challenge — one step at a time.

John O’Fee is a Kamloops-Thompson school trustee. School District 73 columns are published monthly from September to June. To contact O’Fee, email To comment on this column, email

© Kamloops This Week


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