On June 11th, the auditorium at General Vanier was packed with families, friends, and staff all intent on congratulating this year’s graduating class at T.R. Leger.
The ceremony was similar to most high school graduations: blue robes, speeches, diplomas, and lots of picture-taking. The atmosphere of pride and joy, however, was much more overwhelming.
According to Principal Geoff Trasuk, this is because graduates at T.R. Leger have overcome countless obstacles while working towards their diploma.
“Our students might have their own family, they may have overcome poverty and health issues. Many have challenging life circumstances,” explained Trasuk. “It’s incredibly emotional for me as well. This is truly a family celebration.”
T.R. Leger School of Adult, Alternative, and Continuing Education is geared towards students who may be experiencing these types of challenges. The institution provides a more flexible learning environment, where students learn independently and may receive credits for their life experiences. Many graduates have attempted to complete their high school courses more than once – which makes reaching that goal even more significant.
“Life gets in the way,” said Rachel, who graduated this year. It took her three tries to finish. Now she can continue her education and enter the workforce in her chosen field.
Many of this year’s graduates will go on to higher education. Others will continue working or caring for their children. Mckayla Collins, this year’s valedictorian, is headed to college. After 6 years of working towards her diploma, she can now look back with pride at her accomplishments.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from – you can always accomplish more than people tell you,” Collins said. She had encouraging words for those still studying: “Don’t give up. Keep going. It’ll be worth it in the end.”
When they received their diploma, several graduates took the time to acknowledge those who had helped them along the way. Spouses and families were thanked, as well as staff members.
“Students feel safe here,” said Principal Trasuk. “They feel that all the staff truly care about their education and well-being.”
The graduation ceremony was a proud moment as well for Rosaire Leger, who was instrumental in founding the school more than 30 years ago.
“I’m always very proud,” said the now retired Leger. “I’m proud not because we started (the school), but because we’re blessed with excellent staff who understand the students’ needs.”
In all, 128 students graduated from the Eastern region, which includes campuses in Cornwall, Akwesasne, Alexandria, and Williamsburg. Congratulations to this year’s graduating class!