Sunnyside honours former students

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Former student Tori Lutz is welcomed at Sunnyside School during the Parade of Honour for 10 Kate Andrews High School graduates.  

A raft of new challenges await students graduating from Palliser Regional Schools. With a degree of uncertainty of what lies ahead, several welcomed a return to the familiar hallways of their youth.

Neither those soon-to-be Kate Andrews High School (KAHS) graduates, nor the dozens of Sunnyside School students who cheered them on, were disappointed by the experience.

The elementary school northeast of Lethbridge hosted its second annual Parade of Honour, with 10 former students given a hero’s welcome by staff and students the day before their high school graduation.

Hannah Dyck didn’t know what to expect, and said it was heart-warming to run the gauntlet of Sunnyside students shaking their pom-poms and also exchange high-fives with staff.

“This was such a big part of our lives so it’s just a big honour to come back and feel remembered, I guess, that we actually made a difference at this school,” she said. 

Kaleb Gage has been back to Sunnyside on a couple of occasions to watch Christmas concerts but was thrilled to be invited to celebrate his pending graduation with his classmates of 2016.

“All it’s been these past few days has been a flood of memories from elementary, middle school and high school,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion. “It’s come back to me in waves. It’s overwhelming at times.”

Principal Connie Adserballe was impressed by the turnout after four students were honoured at the small, rural school’s parade the first year. She noted this is an extremely busy time for high school students with exams and graduation ceremonies, yet those 10 students this year stayed long after the parade to pose for photos in the playground and challenge the younger children in an intense game of kickball.

“It’s evident in observing their interaction on the playground and with each other and the excitement they have coming back that Sunnyside was a really important part of their life, and we want to share that with our current students,” she said.

Along with celebrating the accomplishments of the high school students, Adserballe said it’s important this year’s graduating Grade 6 class experiences that connection and knows they will be welcomed back as well.

“We want to celebrate with them and we want to congratulate them and we want them to come back and reminisce and know that Sunnyside is always going to be a part of them,” she said.

Grade 6 student Carson Procee said it was just sinking in that he was experiencing his final day of school at Sunnyside.

“Talking to them, they remember when they were in Grade 6 like it was yesterday,” he said of the visiting KAHS students. “Now they are graduating and coming through the hallways. I will be doing that soon I guess, and that will be pretty cool.”

Procee, who recalled the likes of Gage and Patrick Larson helping him warm up his lunch several years earlier, will also look back fondly at his days at Sunnyside and the close-knit school community there.

“There’s no bullying or anything here,” he said. “It’s just really nice for all the kids to be in a place where they (don’t have to) worry about anyone and they can just have fun.”

Joining Gage, Dyck and Larson at Sunnyside School for the Parade of Honour were Nicholas Carbol, Alley Handsaeme, Skyler Hofer, Cassidy Lendrum, Tori Lutz, Darcy Olshaski and Morgan Weinkauf.