This year, the ADSS Valedictorian was Hesquiaht member Jayden Iverson. (Deborah Potter photo)
On Friday, June 28 Alberni District Secondary School celebrated another year of high school graduates. A couple hundred students, as well as their parents, grandparents, siblings and friends, celebrated moving on from public school and into adulthood with the graduation ceremony at the Multiplex.
With each passing school year, more Indigenous students are seen completing their high school education. This year, the ADSS Valedictorian was a Hesquiaht member.
Jayden Iverson was a proud student at ADSS. Among his grad class, he was voted as “Most School Spirit”. He competed on the school’s wrestling team, as well as on the rugby team, track and field, and was an avid band and drama student. With all this in mind, he felt the need to run for valedictorian as well.
His favourite high school memory was winning the wrestling backside quarterfinals, which he mentioned had been the highlight of his life so far.
“It guaranteed that I would be on the banner in the school gym,” Iverson explains to Ha-Shilth-Sa. “It immortalized my stay at ADSS.”
As a band student, Iverson enjoyed the many opportunities and trips, including travelling to Montreal.
Iverson’s valedictorian speech focused on pride, from oneself, where they came from, and where they will go.
“Walk forward proudly…with a renewed passion for life,” Iverson says to his fellow grad students in his valedictorian speech.
As a Hesquiaht student, Iverson says the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council helped a lot in his pursuit of graduating. With grants and funding, Iverson worried less if he could afford post-secondary, giving him a better opportunity to further his education at an institute he wants to attend.
“The education department helped me a lot,” says Iverson, thanking the Nuu-chah-nulth education workers in the schools, as well as NTC’s education staff behind the scenes.
Next year, Iverson plans to attend the University of Victoria to study physics, and with the help of NTC’s education funding, post-secondary seems a little more achievable.
“No matter your background, you can achieve anything if you believe hard enough,” Iverson says to Ha-shilth-sa, just after walking the stage for his high school diploma.