By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Thanks to community sponsors, over $20,000 in cash scholarships have been awarded to the Kate Andrews High School graduating class of 2023.
The ceremony, which was held on June 27, included high praise and celebration as the students turned their tassels in anticipation of the next chapter in life.
The class’s Valedictory address, given by Brendan Duda, shared valuable advice with his fellow graduates, highlighting the importance of perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity.
“The true lessons we learned are through the pursuit of knowledge. The best lesson we can take through our many years of schooling is to persevere through hardship; we will all face adversity in our future but it is how we respond that determines the outcome.”
Duda is known for being a dedicated student, was recognized for his high academic achievements in various subjects and will begin work towards earning a computer science degree at the University of Lethbridge starting in the fall. During his speech, Duda described the ways in which the graduating class of 2023 had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of the student’s high school career, and praised the group for their resilience during the unprecedented shifts and uncertainty of the height of the pandemic.
“It changed the way we were taught and we had to adapt to online learning,” and thanked the class’s parents, guardians and teachers for their support along the way.
The awards portion of the ceremony awarded over $20,000 in scholarships to the class.
Several prestigious awards and scholarships were presented to deserving students. Brendan Duda achieved an impressive 98 per cent academic average in his senior year, earning him the Valedictorian Award, and Rogers Sugar Highest Academic Average Award. Jackson Fyfe was honoured with the Mark Burke Memorial Achievement Award for his persistent work ethic, kindness, and sense of humour. Isabella Jackson received the CCWA Helen Dueck Memorial Nursing Scholarship, and Abigail Giacchetta was awarded the Jake Janzen Memorial Community Volunteer Scholarship.
Abigail Giacchetta also received the Citizen of the Year Award which was presented by Coaldale’s Mayor Jack Van Rijn during the ceremony, recognizing her consistent involvement in community-building. Van Rijn applauded Giacchetta’s contribution to various initiatives throughout her high school career.
“This recipient has been one of the shining stars of the Youth Do Crew,” and commended her leadership with respect to a myriad of other initiatives including Target Hunger, the annual highway cleanup effort, student council, jazz and concert band, and planning efforts. Giacchetta was also presented with a “Community Builders” Award by MP Rachael Thomas.
Carson Mellow received this year’s Dustin Byer Memorial Scholarship, while Abby Giacchetta, Sydney Pakla, Schae Van Buuren, and Sarah Peters were acknowledged by the Kinnette Club of Coaldale for their community contributions. David Sharp was voted the recipient of the Personality Award, presented by Coaldale RCMP S/Sgt. Mike Numan.
Carson Bartsch was awarded the Tim Hortons Scholarship for demonstrating excellence both in athletics and academics. Additionally, the Coaldale and District Agricultural Society presented awards to Cyane Byam-Grabowsky, Karl Petker, Henry Klassen, and Caylee Handsaeme.
During the ceremony, the prestigious Palliser ATA Award was given to Abby Giacchetta, David Sharp, and Carson Mellow, who achieved outstanding academic averages in their senior year. Mellow also garnered multiple other awards throughout the event.
Taya Fehr was recognized as the recipient of this year’s Murray J. Robeson Award for fine arts, while Abby Giacchetta was celebrated as one of six students province-wide to receive the University of Lethbridge Chinook Scholarship valued at $5,000.
As the completion of the hybrid recreation centre and new high school approaches, the class of 2023 is among the last to graduate from Kate Andrews. The new facility is set to welcome students in fall 2024.