A memorable graduation at Holland School

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Holland Elementary School Class of 2014. 
 
On June 12, Holland Elementary School held a graduation ceremony in the school’s gymnasium. Parents, friends and family gathered for what is the first milestone of many for the grade six students. The evening’s program included the introduction of graduates, awards, an address by 2014 Winter Olympic medallist and Holland school alumna Kim Lamarre, and eloquent and memorable speeches by two valedictorians.  
 
 Excitement rose in the audience as the graduands paraded into the hall at a practised and measured pace, their faces beaming for proud parents taking photographs. On stage, Principal Lisa Larente welcomed them. “Tonight is important because it is the end of an era, the end of your time at Holland School.” She continued, “Part of my job is to give you advice: don’t be afraid to try new things, to make new friends, to be kind and to be yourself. Listen to your heart and especially to your parents.”
 
 Olympian Kim Lamarre had a few words of wisdom herself. Describing how she had first come to attend Holland School, she said, “My coming here was definitely not planned. I had to make a big choice in grade four.” At the time, she wanted to learn English. “My mom, who always supported my new ideas, gave me two choices: the International Program at Collège Jésus-Marie de Sillery or Holland School. I thought, ‘Do I take the familiar and easier road to French school, or do I go down the scary, harder and unfamiliar road to English school?’ I chose the English school.” By the time she graduated, she had accomplished her dream of becoming bilingual. 
 
Lamarre continued, “I faced a similar choice last year after I tore my knee the second time. Do I try for the Olympics or not?” The fact that Team Canada had already cut her from the ski team did not stop her. She trained hard all summer to get back on the team, and was rewarded for her efforts with a bronze medal at Sochi. “I succeeded because I chose to be different and to take the difficult route. In facing difficult decisions, I hope you’ll choose to work hard to conquer them, because the reward can be worthwhile, like this!” Holding up her medal, she said, “By working hard and believing in yourself, there is no reason you can’t succeed.”
 
 Class valedictorians Mathieu Poulin and Alexandre Morin spoke of their Holland School experiences. “Maybe I’m the only person to say that I completed grade six twice without regressing,” said Poulin. “I had to get used to the Canadian educational system after living five years in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where they use the British system. I never thought I could accomplish this in one year and have so much fun.” He continued, “Even though I was given an award here, it does not mean I am smarter than my fellow graduates. Many deserve this award for their hard work, perseverance and academic achievement.” 
 
Morin spoke next. “I am honoured to speak at this graduation. A lot has happened over the past seven years.” He continued, “I hear it takes a village to raise a child. I would add to educate, because without you, parents and teachers, we would not be who we are. Thank you.”