Ladysmith Secondary chose a pair of scientifically minded, engaged students as valedictorians for its graduating class of 2013.
Hahlay Buck and Ben Cawthra were scheduled to deliver a pair of valedictory speeches at Friday’s commencement ceremony and Saturday’s graduation banquet, preparing their presentations by exchanging additions and revisions via e-mail while Cawthra was competing in the BC Provincial High School AA Rugby Championships in Abbotsford.
Buck said their speech would focus on “who we are as a grad class and how we’ve grown more in the past five years than in our seven years in elementary school.”
Buck and Cawthra were surprised by the news of their nominations — both students received so many nominations that LSS chose to skip a vote — and both admitted to experiencing mild cases of stage fright.
“I was in shock when I first find out,” Cawthra added, “but it was kind of cool.”
Buck, meanwhile, said she considered her nomination to be “an honour.”
“I just hope we don’t mess up,” Cawthra added.
Buck and Cawthra both credited their involvement in student-run volunteer organizations as the primary reason why they were nominated.
Buck served as one of LSS’s three “grad executives,” acting as liaison between this year’s graduates and students’ parents. She also served as president of the LSS Green Team this year, overseeing the installation of a native plant garden on school grounds.
Cawthra, meanwhile, has played rugby with the 49ers for the duration of his tenure at LSS. He’s also a member of Roots, an LSS club promoting social justice; Cawthra sheered his shoulder-length locks down to stubble to help Roots and LSS raise $1,600 for Cops for Cancer.
Cawthra made an additional cameo in the school’s 2013 spring musical, Legally Blonde, as the “gay pool boy,” as “Elle’s father” and as a courtroom guard, he said.
Both Buck and Cawthra are members of LSS’s Grade Eight Leaders team which sees them guiding LSS’s youngest students through the transition from intermediate or primary school to high school.
As for future plans, both of LSS’s valedictorians have their sights set on the medical field.
Cawthra will attend the University of Victoria’s kinesiology program starting in September, he said, in pursuit of a post-graduate degree in physiotherapy.
Buck, meanwhile, will relocate to Kelowna to study general sciences at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus. After completing a bachelor of sciences, Buck said she plans to pursue medicine.
Assuming academic inclinations are any indication of future prospects, all signs point to success for both students; Buck’s favourite classes at LSS were chemistry and biology, while Cawthra admitted to fostering a love-hate relationship with physics, crediting his teacher Bob Boyko with keeping things interesting.
Buck summed up her outlook on gaining entrance to the world at large by sharing her earnest enthusiasm regarding university life.
“I don’t know anyone else [from LSS] who’s going there,” Buck said, adding that she’s looking forward to a “fresh start.”
“I think it’s exciting,” she added.