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Bowden school's grads, staff experiencing big changes

Principal Jeff Thompson urged the grads to embrace change, noting he is too, taking a job with the Chinook's Edge School Division central office

BOWDEN — The world is changing rapidly but Bowden Grandview School grads have been given the tools to adapt to whatever they face, principal Jeff Thompson told them.

“Adaptability, resiliency, and critical thinking are your greatest assets,” Thompson said during the 2024 cap and gown ceremony, held Friday, May 31 in the school gym.

Thompson urged the grads to embrace change with curiosity and courage.

“Remember, life is a long road,” he said, adding it will have many ups and downs, twists and turns.

Like many speakers after him, Thompson praised parents, caregivers, relatives and friends for giving the grads the tools and support they needed to make it to that day.

Thompson noted graduation marks a change for the grads. He told them to expect change and noted he too is experiencing change this year.

After 11 years at Bowden Grandview School, Thompson is leaving to take up a post in the Chinook’s Edge School Division as division principal.

He told the Albertan that the new principal will be Deen Lockhat, currently vice-principal of Penhold Crossing Secondary School.

Red Deer-Mountain View Member of Parliament Earl Dreeshen told the crowd that his wife began teaching at Bowden Grandview School back in 1977, so he’s quite familiar with the place.

“It’s no secret that you will be the leaders of tomorrow,” Dreeshen said.

He encouraged the grads to embrace the future, even if there’s a risk of failing.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep an open mind as you approach your future and your future decisions,” he added.

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen, the minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors, urged the grads to stay in central Alberta, no matter what career they embark upon.

“We … need great leaders and great people that can help grow our communities,” he said.

Town of Bowden Mayor Robb Stuart said eight of the 15 grads started their education at the school in kindergarten and progressed all the way to Grade 12.

“You’ve had years of support from your family and I would like to acknowledge the time that they’ve (dedicated) to your success,” he said, sparking applause.

Chinook’s Edge School Division trustee Linda Wagers said the grads have come a long way.

She said they’ve benefited from “companionship, compassion, and countless fond memories together. You have laughed, cried, and supported each other through thick and thin.”

“Remember your roots, stay in touch and continue to support and cheer each other along,” she said.

“Take pride in this community, an amazing community, but wherever (it) takes you I wish happiness and fulfillment for each and every one of you,” Chinook’s Edge School Division associate superintendent of learning services Jason Drent said.

Lastly, the grads were addressed by valedictorian Syrscha Holz.

Holz said unlike some of the grads, she didn’t go all the way from kindergarten to Grade 12 in Bowden Grandview School. She arrived in Grade 9.

She said she’d been in several schools over the years “and out of all of them, I’ve never had such great friends and relationships as I’ve had here.”

She told the grads to relax if they don’t yet know what they want to do. It will come to them.

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