By Joe Morey
The LCO Ojibwe School Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremony was held at the school’s gymnasium on Friday, May 29, with 8 graduates and two family members in attendance. The ceremony was live-streamed on YouTube so that more family and friends could take part in the event.
LCO School Director Jessica “Hutch” Hutchison told the graduates it wasn’t the ceremony they deserved after all the years of hard work they put in.
“You and your families chose a tribal education and that choice has led you to an in-person ceremony when public schools are not under the circumstances,” Hutch said referring to the Covid-19 crisis. “This is not the ceremony you expected, but it makes you unique when you look back.”
The 2020 Class Valedictorian Arthur Fleming gave his speech via video as he was unable to attend.
“My life has been greatly impacted by the school, staff and students. I’ve been fortunate to learn in an environment that supports the language and culture of our people,” Fleming told his fellow graduates.
The theme of Fleming’s message to the Class of 2020 was to be greater than yesterday.
“Not everything will go the way we want it. We will have failures. We will have bad days. It’s these times that will define who we are. We need to keep working to reach our goals. If we had a bad day yesterday, we need to keep going today.”
Hailie Banuchie, the Salutatorian also gave an address. She told her fellow graduates to choose what makes them happy.
“In the next chapter of your life try not to worry what others may say, think or do, but to fight for what you want. Focus on your dreams and keep your goals and passions close to your heart.”
The keynote speaker was school staff member Nicole Smith.
“You graduate at a time in history when all the world is dealing with enormous challenges but at a time when opportunities created by those challenges have never been greater,” Smith stated. “You are the generation that will take the technology of today to new dimensions. You are the future, so this afternoon starts the next chapter in your life story. You are armed with the knowledge and skills to create your own destiny. Whatever path you take, I know your community will change for the better as a result of your contributions.”
Several LCO Tribal Governing Board members also said a few words via a recorded video message. LCO Chairman Louis Taylor said he is proud of the graduating class and that despite all that is going on, they made it to this day with the help and support of their families and the school staff.
Gary “Little Guy” Clause told the graduates to further your education and one day he hopes to see them as the future leaders of the tribe.
Tweed Shuman wished them all luck in their future endeavors. “We’re really proud of you all.”
Don Carley said he was proud of all the graduates and the milestone they achieved.
LCO Vice Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge attended the event and also delivered a message. “This is your special day, you worked hard to get here. It seems like yesterday you were all just starting out and now you are all grown up. I’m proud of all of you.”
Graduates above from top left clockwise) Aaliyah Smith, Trenton Quagon, Nenaangebi Gokey, Arthur Fleming, Hailey Banuchie, Leon Guibord, Ronald Bunker, and Cali Perry.
Photos by Joe Morey and LCO School Staff