Over the past few days as I was walking out of the Manitoba Legislative building, I saw a sight that has become common around this time of the year. Dozens and dozens of young people dressed in suits and grad dresses have been excitedly posing for pictures with friends and family on the steps and on the grounds of the Legislature as part of their high school graduation ceremonies.
It’s always enjoyable to stop and watch these young Manitobans and their families celebrating this special milestone. While my own high school graduation from the Steinbach Regional Secondary School feels like the ancient past, I do have fond memories of that time in my life that come back every time I see these young, soon to be graduates. It is hard not to watch them and imagine all the potential that is ahead of them.
Many high school graduates use the graduation festivities to express and show their own individual personalities. From the clothes they choose to wear to the vehicle they arrive in (from limousines to motorcycles), it is just the beginning of a life of individual choices and expression. And today, as much as anytime in history, the choices for high school graduates are as vast as ever. While many will choose a traditional path of post-secondary education towards a career goal, there are many more opportunities to apply skills and aptitudes than there have ever been.
For all high school graduates of 2023, the achievement is notable. For some, there may have been more obstacles to overcome than for others. Academic challenges or personal life struggles can make reaching graduation difficult for many. I was reminded of this earlier this month when I attended the Steinbach Red River College campus graduation. In addition to those who were being awarded degrees and diplomas for post-secondary study, there were many who received their adult high school diplomas. These graduates all would have had their own individual stories, but it was clear from the emotions they expressed that many had overcome significant obstacles to get their high school certificate.
Regardless of the path to graduation, it marks both a special time and a significant milestone in a young person’s life as well as the life of their family. In our own family, our son will be entering his high school graduation year this next academic year and already we are anticipating it and wondering where the time has gone.
For all the graduates of 2023, whether from high school or post-secondary education, congratulations on this achievement. All Manitobans wish you well as you look to apply the knowledge you have learned in ways that will improve our province and country and bring you personal fulfilment. Enjoy this special time and we wish you all the best during this summer and in the years to come.