Haahuupayak’s largest graduating class ready to take on ADSS | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Haahuupayak’s largest graduating class ready to take on ADSS

Port Alberni, BC

Haahuupayak’s gymnasium was filled with proud family members, and vibrant decorations, as teachers, students and the surrounding community gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the 2024 graduates that will be moving on to ADSS in the fall. 

“We have all gathered here to express our profound appreciation, respect, and admiration for some wonderful students,” said Ian Caplette, director of Education, Training, and Social Development at the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council during the ceremony. “Please help me in welcoming the largest graduating class in Haahuupayak history.”

The gymnasium filled with cheer from proud family members for the June 20 event. Twenty-six students entered the gymnasium to a song by their teachers. Caplette, then, called upon the students’ leadership for one last time, as they were invited to sing and dance the welcome song.

One by one, each of the graduates spoke in Nuu-chah-nulth, also translating into English, introducing themselves, their nations and their family lineage.

“It was really fun,” said Riley Stewart, a graduating student, of the ceremony. “I enjoyed it a bunch.”

But most of all, Stewart enjoyed narrating the dance the students performed at the end of their ceremony.

Stewart's favorite part of being a student at Haahuupayak is being able to participate in sports, with no tryouts. His favourite is basketball.

Similar to Stewart, Mia Dick Ross and Innisa Dick Ross shared with Ha-Shilth-Sa they will miss the sports teams the most as they leave Haahuupayak. But they plan to continue on with their love of sports. 

Mia and Innisa’s list of sports teams they hope to be involved in at Alberni District Secondary include basketball, volleyball, rugby, and badminton. Aiden Dennis, another graduating student, hopes to also get involved with basketball and volleyball.

For Mia, her favorite part of going to school at Haahuupayak is “the culture.”

This is the graduating class that Dontay Lucas would have been a part of. In honor of Dontay and his family, the ceremony began with a moment of silence.

Each of the soon-to-be Grade 8 students received a Haahuupayak graduation hoodie that have Dontay’s initials embroidered on them. The principal, Nancy Logan, shared with Ha-Shilth-Sa that Haahuupayak plans to plant a tree in their garden as a tribute to the young boy.

“This 2024 graduating class has indeed left a legacy, not only for being the largest graduating class with 26 strong graduates, but also for so many strengths and gifts that they've shared with us over the years,” said Logan, during the ceremony.

Logan said that the students have “demonstrated great resilience and determination, a passion for sports, art, reading, math, and science.”

“And as you will witness here today, their passion for their cultural teachings and their practices,” Logan continued. 

She assured that despite the challenges the students may face in the future, they are never alone. Logan encouraged them to remember that their roots, culture, ancestors and family are always with them to guide them and give them strength.

“Remember all of the people in your life that do believe in you and know that you can do anything you put your mind to,” she continued. 

“At Haahuupayak you are loved, cared for, supported, and believed in,” said one of their teachers, Ms. Greenwood.

“Haahuupayak will always be a part of you,” said Logan. “And you will always be a part of the Haahuupayak family.”

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