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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Piikani Nation Secondary School holds 2014 Grad

Piikani graduands Colton Morning Bull, Marvin Jr. North Peigan, Hannah Big Swan, Donovan Strikes With A Gun,  Vincent Crow Eagle
Chris Davis

Piikani Nation Secondary School held their 2014 graduation ceremonies on the evening of June 6 in the dramatically decorated gym of the school.


Graduand Marcus Buffalo
The event began with a prayer from Margaret Plain Eagle.  "The teachers work hard for our kids to graduate," she said in her preamble to the prayer.  "We have to ask the Lord to pray for them now."

 "I just want to share a few thoughts with you as we begin," said Principal Rudy Schuh.  "This is graduation.  This is a very special time for these young men and women. I think that as we think about graduation from High School it is a good time to reflect a bit  and take a bit of an inventory, both for the young graduates here, and maybe for ourselves, also."

Principal Rudy Schuh
"There is an old expression that goes 'Teach us to number our days'.  In my mind it is the idea that we should stop at certain points and  reflect on how our days are going."

Schuh recited from a Moody Blues song. "It's not a lot but it's all you got, 22,000 days'.  It certainly has the idea that in the span of a persons life you only have about 22,000 days.  That's not really that long."

Graduands Hannah Big Swan and Jenn Black Plume
"So here we have graduation.  For the young graduates, who perhaps it feels like it's an ending, but really it is not an ending.  Really, it is a beginning."

"I see parents, grandparents, community members,  supporting these young men and women.  It's a really good time to stop and think:  'What have I done to help out these young men and women?   What more can I do in the future to help them  on the pathway to success?' It really truly is a beginning."

"I like an old expression:  Think from the beginning what might be the end.  These little brief words that I share with the graduates now is the idea think from the beginning what might be the end.  Begin to look at life saying 'Here I am'.  It feels like an end, but it is really a beginning, a beginning of a potential that could be great.  As I have had the opportunity of working with these young men and women, I have recognized the fact that there is truly great potential and I look forward to seeing what these people are going to accomplish."

"We have spent time, for some of them all the way from kindergarten through grade 12.  Teachers of this school have invested time and invested effort to see them to get to this place.  We are very proud of them."

Joley Yellow Wings, Zoey, Graduand Ty Many Guns
"A goal that we have tried  to impart to them:  on the one hand we teach them academics. We teach them their science and social and math and  language arts.  But I hope that one thing that we have done is that we've taught  them  to have a desire to learn.  To not stop at this point, but that they be eager to keep on learning.  In life there is something that drives us about getting all the time.   We need to keep getting things all the time.  I like this expression that says 'In all the getting that you do, get wisdom.'  Wisdom is the principle thing to strive after."

"We can go after money, and all kinds of other things, but wisdom is something worth striving after."

Jim Crow FLag, Braden, graduand Claire Sharp Adze
"They will be looking for things in this culture that they have gained from long ago, and modern day times that they are going to be able to  use in modern day times.  So I'm very excited to see what they are going to do in the future days."

"Please give me a big round of applause for the graduating class of 2014."

Principal Schuh's speech was followed by a Grand March of graduands and their escorts.


Peigan Board of Education Trustee Roberta Yellowhorn spoke once the graduands were seated on the dais. "I really acknowledge the fact that we have nine graduates and they have accomplished so much," she said.  "Probably from the K4 graduation where they all started their early life to  today.  Boy, the time went fast.  I would like to welcome all the elders in our community, all the parents, and grand parents, all the people that I believe are behind the scenes, to why these nine graduates are sitting up here.  So give them a round of applause."

"We really strive great to have a school for our children and our community," Yellowhorn continued.  "Sometimes we face miserable times, and sometimes we face change.  I believe change has got to happen in this day and age.  The world is moving so fast that I believe our young people are experiencing things we never experienced in our day and age.  So I believe that they have some different kind of challenges."


"The theme you had is 'The World is Yours'.  Well, I can tell you that you can make a difference in this world."  Yellowhorn urged the graduands to seek further education, whether post secondary or trades, and echoed the need to seek wisdom.

"You do your hearts desire, you do  whatever it's going to take.

"Don't ever forget about the people in your life.  The people that love you, and stand by you. Those are the ones that you should acknowledge, every time you go through a milestone."

Vincent Crow Eagle
Piikani Band Councillor Fabian North Peigan was the next speaker. "Oki.  You have completed grade 12.  I am sure it has been a very good journey," he said. It's an honour to come and see all the community.  First and foremost the elders.  Without your parents help, pushing you to school every day, without your parents disciplining you... you are a reflection of your families, and you are going to be successful."

North Peigan spoke of various teachers he has interacted with in his life.  "Sometimes, we as a community, we do not realize how much impact we have upon our children."

"With that I congratulate you.  I know that you are going to do well.  One day you are going to take full responsibility of what this community is going to become.  You get to take a part in that, and you get to be our future leaders."

Youth Councillor Leland English spoke as a graduate of the school himself.   "There are a lot of good memories here," he said.

"You are all successes.  I see a lot of potential in all of you.  You are going on to a new set of tasks and challenges in life.  You are going to run into hardships. One tip I will pass onto you is don't give up. Don't be afraid to use your resources."

Graduand Donovan Strikes With a Gun presented the toast.  "It's a huge honour, giving this toast to the grads.  I would like to thank each and everyone of the grads for sticking in there.    For me it was hard to get to this point, I know it was hard for all of us to get to this point, but we all made it."

"All of these people believe you can go far.  Don't ever forget that."

Marvin Jr. North Peigan and Abbey Bastien
"It is such an accomplishment to see our children graduate from high school," said Wes Big Bull of the Piikani Youth Education Foundation ( PYEF)  "I am honoured to have two of my children graduating from high school."  He spoke of how it was a graduation for the parents as well, as the family has reached a milestone.

"We love our children for who they are, not who they may become.  We never know where the road is going to take us.  We learn to believe in the values that our parents gave us.  Those values are going to take us through life.  Be proud in your hearts and your mind of what you've accomplished today."

At the commencement of the traditional bestowing of eagle feathers Former Piikani Chief Peter Strikes With A Gun reminded those present that the school stood on what was once his famly's land. "Why did we build a school here?  It was for the benefit of my grandchildren."

Peter Strikes with a Gun (far right)
"The eagle is one bird.  Thunderstorms, hurricanes... The eagle will soar above the storm. Our children are being gifted to share the eagle.  This eagle once lived with us.  We bless these eagle feathers, and we smudge them."

"I heard a very wise man, a good friend once said, 'The success of life is who you are, to be happy, to be self sufficient, to be able to understand the benefits that the creator has given you."

2014 Piikani Nation Secondary School Graduates

Hannah Big Swan
Marcus Buffalo
Marvin Jr. North Peigan
Donovan Strikes With A Gun
Colton Morning Bull 
Jenn Black Plume
Vincent Crow Eagle
Ty Many Guns Graduate
Clair Sharp Adze



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