St. Timothy High School paused to celebrate the accomplishments of their Class of 2023 on May 26.

"We gather in the embrace of our small Cochrane Catholic school to celebrate their extraordinary achievements," said principal Marilyn Nesse in her address. "It's with joy and gratitude that I stand before you as your principal, knowing that you've reached the pinnacle of your first academic journey, and we proudly declare that we made it; you made it."

She called the Class of 2023 a closely-knit community of 21 graduates who excelled academically and spiritually in the face of numerous challenges while exemplifying a spirit of compassion and kindness.

Valedictorian Natalie KotchValedictorian Natalie Kotch

Valedictorian Natalie Kotch reminded her fellow graduates of the importance of love.

"Only after accepting and loving the person that we are can we do the same for others, creating a truly acceptable community. Never be afraid of the person you will become. I see a room full of astonishing individuals, each with a future they will take hold of and make their own. But also never forget the person you are, the experiences and feelings which shape you.

"Remember the child inside, the imaginary world that you created in life is carefree and full of wonder. You're never too old to take hold of the spark that remains inside you and feel the light radiate. That is a part of you, accept it and embrace it. It's too beautiful for you to let it die."

Dr. Bryan Szumlas, CCSD chief superintendent, reminded graduates that they are never alone and that they have the support of their family, friends, neighbours, and the Calgary Catholic School District school community.

"You're never alone, and so as you go about life, please rely upon others, especially when you're feeling down and out. And guess what? We're all going to feel down and out. Some days that just happens, right? Make sure you talk to someone. Build yourself back up and get back in the game."

St. Tim's has strong ties with the Stoney Nakoda Nation and time was dedicated to illustrate the pride taken by all with this connection. Blankets were presented to two of the graduates by their parents to mark this special moment in their lives and each graduate was brought to the front to receive a warm applause from the crowd. Indigenous singers and drummers provided a moving performance.

The celebration continued at the evening banquet, hosted for the first time at the Cochrane Lions Event Centre.