SCCHS class of 2014 graduates ready for future challenges

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The Swift Current Comprehensive High School graduating class of 2014 walked into the future after Graduation Ceremonies on June 25.

With the theme "We're here for a good time, not a long time", the graduates took the opportunity to look ahead to a bright future while reflecting on the successes of their school years.

The Stick and Pin address was given by Kurtis Pratt and Jade Koch, with their speech providing a humorous look back at their classmates and teachers, but also sharing their hopes for the future.

"To our friends and classmates, thank you for always being there to comfort us and reassure us, building us up when we are down, and having our backs by procrastinating equally as much as we have the day an assignment was due, and if by chance you hadn't, thank you for helping us with ours," Koch said during their speech.

"To our teachers - thank you for being our parents away from home. The life lessons will be carried with us through our future endeavours. Despite how we may have felt about you taking our phones, removing our hats, or telling us to be quiet in class, each one of you has made a lasting impression on our lives and we wouldn't be standing here today if it wasn't for all of you," Pratt said.

Koch saved the biggest thank you for the parents and guardians of the graduating class students.

"Thank you for helping create the voice you have today, even though it may have argued back a few times along the way. Thank you for being our chauffeurs, personal chefs, house keepers, alarm clock…and of course our bottomless ATMs."

"One of the greatest things High School has taught us to appreciate and pay attention to every moment you life in," she noted.

Trent Shumay, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Finger Foods Studios in Vancouver, was guest speaker at graduation, sharing a perspective merging business sense and life sense for the graduates.

As an SCCHS Class of 1992 graduate, he left Swift Current to chase his dreams, and is now at the helm of a 60 employee company developing next generation digital products.

"All of you are capable of changing the world. What's critically important is that you give yourself the best shot at doing that, and don't make too many decisions along the way that prevent you from fulfilling your potential. Today you are the Graduating Class of 2014, tomorrow you can be whoever you want," Shumay said during his inspiring address.

He encouraged the graduates to become critical thinkers, and to have a vision for their future.

"If what you're being told to do or asked to do fits really well with your personal mantra, and your skills and where you want to go, do it. If it doesn't fit, or you know deep down inside that it's not your thing, or that it doesn't make sense, think about it. Make your own decisions. Sometime you have to do things that you don't want to do, or it's a temporary thing, but long term you don't want to lock yourself into that."

During what he described as the first chapter of his life, Shumay was a video game programmer for 15 years where he worked on games for EA Sports, XBox and Play Station, plus he did some prototype work for Nintendo in Japan.

Following the global economic shift during 2008 and 2009, he took the change in the programming industry as personal motivation to start his own company instead of losing investment dollars.

"It was sort of the kick in the butt that I needed to get moving on the next chapter of my life," he said. "I think throughout your lives and your careers you'll find these moments where you need to pay attention, and you'll get that kick in the butt that tells you it's time to do something different."

Today, Shumay's company has 60 employees and generated $7.5 million in revenue this past year. Starting his own company allowed him to spend time with great people, brilliant entrepreneurs, and to learn from them.

He pointed out that companies are asked to define their Key Performance Indicators in the business world, but these measurements are also applicable in the business of life. High School KPIs are simple to see through academic grades as an assessment of your learning.

"What's about to happen is a fundamental shift in how these things are defined. Because the system has been very well defined for you, whether you liked it or not. But starting tomorrow, nobody's going to set your KPIs for you, nobody's really going to tell you what to do. It's a lot like starting a business in a sense. Nobody tells you what type of business to start, or gives you a handbook for how to create a pizza restaurant. You have to figure that out. It's the same thing with your life."

"If you define yourself by loving school, getting great grades, and doing what was asked of you, tomorrow, nobody will tell you what to do. If you define yourself by hating school and rebelling against it and everything else, that's o.k., you made it here. Good on you. You probably learned more than somebody that coasted through the process. But you don't get any advantage either. There's nothing left to hate."

Shumay inspired students to blaze their own paths in life, no matter how far fetched their dreams and ideas are.

"You need to define your own goals, you have to live within your being, and you have to figure out what will make you happy. Running that life will feel like no work at all. You should not be afraid to pursue the thing that will set you apart from the others, even if it feels a little bit risky or a little bit out of the ordinary. Or people just plain keep you're nuts. If you pursue that with an honest integrity, and an absolute commitment to success, you'll always be O.K. Either you'll succeed, or people will recognize your commitment and offer you jobs or want to work for you or with you. Or plain old just help you up off the ground if you fall down. But they will respect you."

Organizations: Swift Current Comprehensive High School, Finger Foods Studios, EA Sports XBox and Play Station Nintendo

Geographic location: Swift Current

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