Pen High valedictorians for 2019, Grace Grant and Matthew MacDonald, have nothing but praise for their experience in high school. (Robin Grant –Western News)

School spirit on high for Penticton Secondary valedictorians

“We are so fortunate to be students at Pen High. It’s a really great school,” says 2019 valedictorian

This year’s valedictorians at Penticton Secondary have nothing but high praise for their school.

Grace Grant and Matthew MacDonald are heading off to university in the fall to study their passions and they say their success is all because of the opportunities they had as students at Pen High.

“We are so fortunate to be students here. It’s a really great school,” said Grant, who is headed to Toronto’s York University to study dance.

She said a focus of their speech on Friday at the school’s graduation ceremony, while lighthearted and funny, is to remind students of the great opportunities available to them.

READ MORE: Penticton students to host Remembrance Day ceremony

“We just like emphasize and remind everyone in the crowd how lucky we are to be here.”

MacDonald agrees.

He said he feels lucky to have had the opportunity to attend because it has advanced placement classes, which have helped him excel in subjects like the sciences, which he loves. He is attending McGill University in Montreal to study bioengineering.

“We have a lot of opportunities,” he said. “I would never be able to take advanced placement classes at a smaller school or without teachers who are willing to go the huge extra step to teach these classes that have prepared me and gotten me to where I am today.”

This year’s valedictorians are interested in different things but said it is the leadership roles they have taken on in the past school year that made them good candidates.

READ MORE: Toys for Tots to Teens set to warm hearts

In 2018, MacDonald helped organize a Toys for Tots to Teens breakfast drive at the school and Grant organized a Remembrance Day ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the armistice that marked the end of the First World War.

Grant said a focus of hers is sports, including pretty much every dance genre possible, and MacDonald said he focuses on academics. They are both enrolled in French immersion and went on exchange to France in Grade 10.

”I’ve been dancing at the Okanagan Dance Studios for the past 15 years and I think everyone knows that about me,” Grant said. “It’s my personality trait that’s what I focus on but I’m pretty big into the arts too.”

Pen High gives students a good foundation for university, which Grant said is important.

“I want to be a dance teacher but also ultimately a French teacher or English because I like inspiring people and showing them that there is an exciting path ahead of them. I’ve had a lot of great teachers throughout my career and I want to be able to inspire and share what I know with younger people.

READ MORE: We for She event inspires Penticton students to lead bold careers

“We have a really great staff here. Everyone is really caring and put a lot into everything. All of the different departments, not just the teachers — everyone puts in the effort. I think that’s really important. There’s a really good sense of community here and I think that’s lucky.”

“All those little things that add for each individual person as a whole make Pen High a really special school,” said MacDonald.

“The bioengineering program is open-ended. I’m kind of hoping it takes me into research and development. I’ve always been passionate about solving puzzles and science. I think it is a good area for me to go into because it’s so new and it is super reflective of the work I have done so far.”

The Penticton Secondary School graduation is June 7. The annual grad parade takes place on June 27.

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Robin Grant
Reporter, Penticton Western News
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