Special GRAD Feature: Class of 2016 ~ Imagine the Unwritten

| July 4, 2016

cap toss bc


At the commencement ceremony on June 25th,  guest speakers addressed the crowd, following the singing of O’ Canada and the procession of the graduates and escorts.

Assistant Principal and Mistress of Ceremonies, Tamara Czinkota surprised the crowd and the grads, asking them to all look her way and captured a “selfie” on her cell phone and selfie stick.

Addressing the graduates were MLA Todd Loewen, Mayor Jim Ahn, School Trustee Jim Hailes, Northern Gateway Public Schools, Jennifer Ferguson, School Council message from Jenn Ashmore and Fox Creek School Principal Richard Rozario.

class photo

CLASS OF 2016 – Back row:L-R:  Jared Upshaw, Henry Roeters, Aaron Mostowich, Josh Duff, Tavis MacDonald, Jesse Bedson, Logan Hrycun, Andrew Mendoza. Front row: L-R: Matt Murphy, Kaitlyn Zwarich, McKaylie Perrault, Danielle Tonhauser, Cheyenne Thomas, Sammie Hood, Alycia High and Damon Bennett.


passing of colors

Passing of the Colors, Logan Hrycun to Grade 11 student Brittany Christie.

Presentation of the graduation certificates, passing of the colors, departure of the grads and God Save the Queen concluded the commencement ceremony.  The celebration continued at the community hall with toasts to the grads, parents and teachers, a catered meal, slideshow and a dance.

CLASS OF 2016 

All Caps and Gown photos by SDI Imaging Inc., (http://www.cooldigitalpics.com/)  with the exception of Alycia & Sammie’s photos.


Jesse Bedson

Jesse Bedson


Nickname – JB

Future plans – Ride Bulls

Long term – Start a ranch and raise bucking bulls

Advice to students – Follow your dreams, no matter what the sacrifice is.

FCS Highlight to remember – “I won’t be here Friday.”

Role model(s) – Lane Frost

Thank you to – My family, friends and everyone who’s helped on the way.





Damon Bennett



Nickname – Damoan

Future plans – Hitting the slopes.

Long term – I honestly have no idea… right now!

Advice to future students – Cherish every moment because time flies by fast.

FCS Highlight to remember – When Tavis threw a banana cream pie at Mr. Dinel after basketball practice.

Role model(s) – Thad Castle, Schoolboy Q and Scott Stevens

Thank you too – My family and friends for helping me become the man I am today. You all helped build me up so I can take my first step into the future with a leap instead of a step. Thank you.



Josh Duff



Nickname: Duff

Future Plans: Canadian Armed Forces

Long term: Seeing the world with the Canadian Armed Forces

Advice: Stay in School.

FCS Highlight: throwing pies in basketball practice

Role model: My Dad and the late Master Jim Rennie Sr.

Thank you: to my parents




Alycia High



Nickname – Drake Beta Tester

FCS Highlight to remember – The moment when Nelson said “Suck the Wall”

Role model(s)-  myself, Sarah Roy and Owen Cook





Sammie Hood



Nickname- Sammie,Samuel

Future plans – Be either a truck driver or a NICU nurse

Long Term plans – Be Happy

Advice to students – Don’t give up, you’re so close you can make it!!

FCS highlight – when we ordered pizza to Mrs. Kandadsmmie’s classroom.

Role models – My Dad, Dana Boyce, and Ms. Sand

Thank you to – all the teachers and parents for encouraging us and helping us through the tough times.





Logan Hrycun



Nickname – Loge

Future plans – work

Long term – get married and have kids

Advice to students – Don’t fall behind on your school work

FCS Highlight to remember – when Sydney Sather and Laura Camps shoved cupcakes up my nose

Role models – my parents

Thank you to – all the teachers and family members that helped me get here.



Tavis MacDonald



Nickname – Vis

Future plans – I don’t know yet

Long term – I don’t know yet

Advice to students – “Good luck, I still have no idea what’s going on.”

FCS Highlight to remember – “the pie incident”

Role models – are my parents

Thank you to – my friends






Andrew Mendoza

ANDREW MENDOZA (Valedictorian) 

Nickname – Andrew

Future plans – Move to Edmonton and pursue the Accounting program at MacEwan University this Fall 2016.

Long term – Hopefully become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), then pursue a Chemical Engineering Program, have a stable job, travel the world, enjoy life, get married & have kids and living the ‘unwritten’ that I’ve ‘imagine[d]’ it to be.

Advice to students – “Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” – Christian D. Larson

FCS Highlight to remember – When Sammie and I won the King Cash in Social Class, when we (Math 30-1 & 20-1 students) ordered a pizza and had it delivered in Mrs. Kandasamy’s classroom without her knowing any of it, when we did the esters lab in Chemistry 30, and the achievement of having a school mark of 100% in Math 30-1 and a diploma mark of 98% in Math 30-2

Role model(s)- My parents and my dearest educators.

Thank you to – Ms. Pretula for always inspiring us to push ourselves forward to attain success in writing our Diploma examinations and for helping us discover the wonders of Science, Ms. Czinkota for motivating us to strive harder in our studies and for helping us with what we needed to accomplish in order for us to graduate, Mr. King for helping us be more engaged in the local, national and international politics/current happenings around the globe and for bringing out the competitiveness in each one of us through King Cash, Mrs. MacNeil for enhancing our confidence in speaking in front of people through having report projects & debates, and my Mathematics mentors/teachers: Mr. Linger, Mrs. Kandasamy and Mrs. Fancey who helped me strengthen my math abilities and for giving me extra help on the stuffs I needed to master in order for me to achieve success in my Math diplomas and including others who have impacted my life huge time. Thank you so much. I will forever be grateful and proud that I have been a student of Fox Creek School.



Aaron Mostowich



Nickname – Amos

Future plans – college bound! Coming back to Fox Creek to work on my heavy duty mechanic

Long term – more than likely to take over the family business

Advice to students – stay in school…Time flies when you’re having fun! Enjoy your young life

Role model(s) – My grandmother…and my family

Thank you to – my family for being supportive through out the time being in school, being here for my through rough times and good times.






Matt Murphy



Nickname – Murph

Future plans – go to post secondary

Long term – get a college/university degree

Advice to students – Life goes on, days get brighter

FCS Highlight to remember – setting the divisional record in track and field

Role model(s) – My grandfather

Thank you to – Mrs. Hodges, my mom and grandfather





McKaylie Perrault



Nickname – Kaylie, Kangaroo Kaylie, Wolf Kaylie, McGaylie, and McQuaylie

Future plans – Work lots, go places and experience new things.

Long term – To become insanely rich and move to a hot and tropical place. Maybe sell all my stuff and just live by traveling.

Advice to students – Don’t get involved in the stupid drama, it is so not worth it, and if you think you love him/her, you really don’t.

FCS Highlight to remember – I remember walking into the school my first day 4 years ago, and how everyone was welcoming, except for my (now) best friend who told me I walked like I had a stick up my butt. Thanks Kaitlyn

Role model(s)- Ian and Lena Young because they’re love is unconditional. Also to my aunty Michelle because she’s worked harder than anyone I know to earn what she has.

Thank you to – The law, because without it, some of you would be severely injured, also thank you to my skin tone because I would not look good wearing an orange/striped jump suit.




Henry Roeters



Nickname – Hank

Future plans – Work

Long term – Buy my own house

Advice to students – stay in school kids

FCS Highlight to remember – Tour group

Role model(s)- Mrs. Hodges

Thank you to – teachers, friends and family





Danielle Tonhauser



Nickname – Dani

Future plans – Pursue my Bachelor of Education at Grande Prairie Regional College

Long term – Be happy.

Advice to students – Believe in yourself. Dream. Try. Do good.

FCS Highlight to remember – Basketball tournament in Worsley.

Role model(s) – My Mom.

Thank you to – My Parents and Mrs. Brown





Cheyenne Thomas


Nickname – Chey, Thomas “the tank engine”

Future plans – Go to GPRC and get my bachelor of education degree

Long term – get married, have kids, teach elementary in Fox Creek

Advice to students – do not go into a diploma course with the mind set of “winging it”

FCS highlight to remember – The grade 6 campout… Sorry Logan

Role Model(s) – My Aunt Janice, she showed me what kindness and hard work can get you in life.

Thank you to – My parents for not getting to mad at all the mysterious report cards that have disappeared, My teachers for pushing me to become better, and mostly Mr. Dinel who has motivated me in every way, whether it be in school, sports, or fitness. Thank you to everyone that played a part in making me the woman I am today.





Jared Upshaw



Nickname – J-rod

Future plans – go get journeyman mechanics, travel, buy a house, start a family

Long term – work, enjoy life

Advice to students – stay in school, work towards your dreams, nothing is unreachable

FCS Highlight to remember – field trip with Mrs. Garbe when Tyrone threw a drink in the theater.

Role model(s) – my father

Thank you to – everybody who helped me through this chapter of my life. Now onto new. Thank you.




Kaitlyn Zwarich



Future plans – Travel, and go to university

Long term – Become a registered nurse and eventually have a family.

Advice to students – Put your education first.

FCS Highlight to remember – Trip to London, Paris and Rome in 2015.

Role model(s) – My Mom, older sister, and Katya Elise Henry.

Thank you to – All my teachers for dealing with my sass.






Candid GRAD Memories

“First, let’s take a selfie!” Assistant Principal Tamara Czinkota started a new tradition a few years ago at the GRAD ceremonies, surprising the students with a “selfie moment’.  This year, she incorporated the selfie stick!

selife 2 with miss c

Assistant Principal Tamara Czinkota with her traditional selfie moment.

 selfie with ms c

Valedictorian Speech

By: Gil Andrew Mendoza

Good afternoon esteemed guests, honourable dignitaries, our dearest educators, faculty, our supportive families, schoolmates, friends, and my fellow graduates. I am honoured to be speaking as the valedictorian on behalf of the graduating class of 2016. Thank you for joining us on our special day.


Class of 2016 Valedictorian – Gil Andrew Mendoza

It is tremendously phenomenal to think that after our years here at Fox Creek School we find ourselves here today about to formally close this chapter of our lives. To use a math analogy; during our high school years, we were like asymptotes, getting closer and closer to the axis of pinnacle of success but never really reaching it, and today, we finally intersected and crossed that axis. It is evidence and a privilege to who we are as people that we are here today, about to walk up the stage. It’s not only about the diploma, it is also about what the diploma symbolizes – that we completed the seemingly strenuous climb, and we did it together.

After solving numerous mathematics problems, writing long and in-depth essays in English, scrutinizing Shakespearean plays, performing wondrous laboratories in Chemistry, dissecting living organisms in Biology, exploring the complexities of human ideologies in Social Studies, and surviving the very intense diploma examinations; we finally reached the peak of our journey—this is to graduate high school full of knowledge and unforgettable memories.

Graduation is not only a time to celebrate our achievements, it is also a time to reflect the everlasting memories we’ve shared throughout high school, our failures that has become our motivation to try harder and to never give up on the trials of every day, and it also signifies the milestone we have been waiting for that has culminated into finishing high school with flying colours. It is an opportunity for us, graduates to enjoy the fruit of our perseverance in completing high school and this manifests the start of new hopes and inspirations for each of us.

Coming here to Canada was an extraordinary experience. Indeed, it was a whole new world to me: being in a new place, experiencing frigid, ice-cold weather which differs profoundly back in the Philippines due to its sweltering weather conditions, being in a new school, meeting new people and creating new memories with them.

I have to admit that the very first time we arrived at Edmonton International Airport; I was trembled by the fact that I have to adapt with how things work from what I usually know it in the Philippines and how it was here in Canada. My first day here at Fox Creek School was nearly at the end of our grade 8th year, I did not know anyone and I got lost for a minute or so trying to find where my room is. I was like a chittering creature that is able to speak yet has a hard time to roar my innate voice. I am that kid who is silent and never revolts on anything. But things changed slowly as I have known to discover the beauty that rests upon Canada and its people as days passed by. I will be forever proud and grateful to be a student of Fox Creek School as it has helped me gain confidence, made some fantastic memories and I have had a very awesome experience that I will forever treasure in my heart.

To our wonderful parents and families, thank you for supporting us since we were little kids in more ways than it’s possible to count. You dragged us out of bed each morning, made sure we were fed and clothed for school. You helped us with homework, paid our class fees, and listened to our complaints. Thank you for always being there to guide us and nurture us whenever we made terrible decisions in life, for inspiring us whenever we felt hopeless, and for motivating us to do better in school and in any aspect of our lives. Thank you for all of the advice you gave us that have helped us to overcome our failures and struggles, for being the one who always picks us up whenever we feel down and thank you for loving us unconditionally.

Most importantly, thank you for not giving up on us when we drove you nuts. I would also like to thank specifically the parents who helped and dedicated their time and effort for planning and organizing our graduation day. We are very grateful for your constant support throughout our years here at Fox Creek School. You have inspired us to continue to strive to be the best version of ourselves we could ever be. Lastly, I would like to personally thank my parents for everything you have given me—the knowledge, the courage and the wisdom, and without the inspiration and drive you gave me, I will not be the person that I am today. And to my friends and relatives back in the Philippines and to the Filipino community here in Fox Creek, thank you so much for believing in me and for the utmost support you have given me. All of you are a testament that has motivated me to reach this scintillating moment of my life.


My fellow graduates. Over our last high school years here at Fox Creek School, we have learned a lot. Ms. Pretula has taught us how to become “matured” individuals while watching the “Miracle of Life” video in Biology, how to never forget to carry all the digits through when doing Stoichiometry problems in Chemistry and how to torment the kids in lower grades by leaving our complex calculations up on the board. Mrs. MacNeil has enhanced our confidence in speaking in front of people through having report projects and she has taught us Figurative Language almost every day to be prepared for the nerve-cracking diploma; Mr. King has helped us to gain interest in our economy by enhancing our skills on guessing who is going to be late on that particular day so that we could earn some precious King Cash—which also brought out the competitiveness in each one of us. And finally, Ms. Czinkota who has helped us in almost everything we needed to accomplish in order for us to be here on the stage—including having our school credits being checked, and worrying about who will work at the concession the following weekend.

I would also like to sincerely thank our math teachers: Mrs. Fancey, Mr. Linger and Mrs. Kandasamy who helped me to reach success in writing my math diplomas. All of these amazing faculty members, including others, have provided us the background to succeed in life and have impacted each one of us profoundly. They are there whenever we need help not only in terms of our studies but also in bringing out the best in us. We are very fortunate to come across many marvelous teachers throughout our years here at Fox Creek School, and we thank you for that. You have given us the foundation of knowledge and determination we needed in order for us to continue sailing our boats towards the unwritten road. We wholeheartedly want to thank each one of you for teaching us all the information to take into the next phase of our lives so patiently and for never giving up on us.

Now to speak of my fellow graduates; I have only been a student of Fox Creek School at the end of our grade 8th year but most of you have been here since kindergarten or even playschool. Although I may not share a lot of memories with you guys, I am very thankful to have you as my classmates. Even though we just began associating this year simply for the sake of planning graduation, become seatmates, group mates or partners in doing school projects, I am glad and grateful to know each and every one of you. May you reach your goals in life and I wish you all the best in pursuing your chosen careers.

This day June 25th 2016 marks the definitive end to a chapter and the beginning of another. Bear in mind though the next phase of our lives are still “unwritten” and we as a whole will determine whether or not the story of our lives will be the next best seller. I do not want to lecture you guys but I urge you to send the right course of action and achieve heights you will one day look back on with a satisfied smile.

My coherent message is that you don’t have to stick with that one career path if you feel like it is not for you, there are many ways to get to where you want to go, you can always change what you are until you find that perfect career you will take—then the pursuit of happiness will come to you and it will never be unchained.

There will surely be obstacles along the road; however, they are not there to deter you from your goals. When a vine meets a wall, does it stop growing? No. It does the unthinkable. It defies gravity and climbs the wall. I ask you to climb the many walls you will encounter over the course of your lives and to never give up on chasing the passions you posses. Explore, learn new things, imagine the unwritten, discover the unknown, reach the unreachable star, do something in life that is meaningful to you, and follow what your heart truly desires.

And finally, I would like to dedicate this song to each one of you—my fellow graduates…

Gil Andrew Mendoza’s Video

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road

Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go

So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why

It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time


It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,

I hope you had the time of your life.


So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind

Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time

Tattoos and memories and dead skin on trial

For what it’s worth it was worth all the while


It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,

I hope you had the time of your life.


It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,

I hope you had the time of your life.


Thank you.





Fox Creek School Principal Richard Rozario

Ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests, colleagues and most importantly, class of 2016.

This is an afternoon, marked with pomp and pageantry, designed to celebrate and honour an important milestone in your young lives.  I hope that when you reflect on your years at school, you recall some good times, and some important lessons learned, not necessarily those of mathematics, science or social studies but more so the lessons of life.

Although this day will be filled with trips down memory lane and celebrating accomplishments it is also meant to be a jumping off point or springboard to the future.  I wrestled a great deal with what lesson I would want to leave this class, knowing that I had to confine my remarks to an hour or less.  Over the many years that I have given the address to the graduating class I found myself telling the graduates what to do, but today  I will try  a new approach.  I will surely give you some advice as principals always do and give you some food for thought on developing your own perspective but the key message from me this evening rather than suggest what you should do; I want to tell you what not to do.

Never be defined and never be confined! 

Allow me to share a short story from the Reverend Desmond Tutu.  There once was a farmer who raised chickens in his backyard.  Amongst this farmer’s chickens there was one that looked a little different.  It behaved like a chicken.  It walked like a chicken.  It pecked away like a chicken.

One day a wise woman came along and said to the farmer: “You know, that isn’t a chicken. It is an eagle.” The farmer said: “No way. That is a chicken.” And he looked at the odd bird and said: “Don’t get any fancy ideas. You are a chicken.”

“I don’t think so,” said the wise woman. She picked up the strange-looking chicken, climbed up the nearest mountain, stood at the edge of a precipice and waited until sunrise. Then she turned the bird toward the sun and said: “You are an eagle. You can soar. You can change your world. Go fly.”

The strange-looking chicken shook itself and tentatively spread its wings. It looked up at the sky. It looked down -­ way down -­ to the bottom of the precipice. It took a few steps back in the direction of the other chickens, where it had been so comfortable, where it had a daily routine and food to eat. “Sorry,” it said to the wise woman, “I don’t feel like an eagle. I feel like a chicken. And I don’t think I can fly.”

So why am I telling you this story?  Flying is not an easy thing, especially not for humans.  However as a graduate of this school, we have guided you to be a creative problem solver, who is self-directed and socially responsible.  We have encouraged good communication, collaboration and cooperation.  I think that your time here at Fox Creek School has given you some insights and a perspective on yourself, other people and what is truly important in life.

Your parents and teachers have watched you grow and I have watched this school grow in spirit and enthusiasm.  I’ve seen its positive reputation flourish as a result of your participation in sports, clubs and in community initiatives.   I am confident that the future is in good hands.  You have impressed me with your enthusiasm and commitment, your maturity and wisdom.

So to finish Reverend Tutu’s story…. Back on the precipice afraid to fly…..The wise woman said, “That’s your choice, but remember you are responsible for the decisions you make.  If you don’t dare to fly, you will never be fully alive.  You will never reach the sky.  Even if you feel like a chicken, fly like an eagle. ”

The strange looking chicken shook itself, spread out its pinions and then lifted off, and soared and soared and soared.

Now the world is full of chickens who would not allow themselves to be defined by what others believe they could or could not do.  Who in the 1930’s would have believed that Amelia Earhart, a woman, would be able to fly a plane, let alone solo across the Atlantic Ocean?  Did anyone ever believe that Steve Nash, a short white, Canadian would be named MVP in the NBA two years in a row.    Who ever would have thought a person named Michaelle Jean who came to this country as a refugee from Haiti would be appointed as the Governor General of Canada.  None of these individuals allowed people or circumstance to define who they would be.

At the risk of overstating the obvious, times have changed.

Social Media such as Twitter and Facebook have certainly changed the way people collaborate, communicate and cooperate.  Facebook boasts more than 1 billion users.

There seems to be an app for everything these days. Recently, while helping my daughter with her math, over Facetime, she pulled out her phone and asked it to graph x cubed minus 5 x plus 7.  Sure enough in seconds she showed me a detailed graph.  Very likely none of this is surprising or amazing to you and more likely your norm.

I share this with you because it is important to realize that what we learn, how we learn and many of the things we take for granted today were at one time nothing more than someone’s dream or imagination.  I guess they call this progress.  I think these innovations will continue to happen and at increasingly fast rates.  You have selected the theme “Imagine the Unwritten”.  I strongly encourage all of you to do just that; however, I also hope that each of you also establish your own perspective on the cost of innovation versus Innovation at what cost?  It is my hope that electronic communication will never completely replace face to face interaction.  I know and firmly believe that today’s graduates are more adept at critical thinking than the high school graduates of my day.

As you walk through the door of opportunity, will you reach back and give a hand to someone else and pull them through that same door?

For years I have advised the graduating class to give back to their community and leave it a better place for having had them there.  The media bombards us with all terms global.  Global economy, global marketing, global warming etcetera.  I say to you class of 2016 do not be confined by what others believe you can or cannot do.  Do not limit your sphere of influence to the local community.  Dream, and dream big.  Imagine the Unwritten.   Believe that you can find a cure for cancer, believe that one day you will be able to repair a spinal cord, that you can rid the world of poverty, hate and war.  Never underestimate what a small group of committed individuals can do.

So as you move upward and onward from Fox Creek School, do not let any person or group of people or circumstance define who you are or what you stand for.  Do not confine your dreams and sphere of influence. Persist in asking yourself and others three simple questions.  Why?  Why not?  Is there a better way?

Never be defined and never be confined!

I sincerely believe this class of 2016 can, if you want to, effect positive changes as far reaching as you desire.  I wish you all the best.


Photos by Brandi Camilleri and Allan Lariviere. Thank You for sharing your photos Al.








grad3grad1andrew2016 Graduation-108IMG_6898




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Category: Brandi, Community, Event Reports, Special Feature

About the Author (Author Profile)

Brandi loves meeting people and sharing their stories. A country girl at heart, she appreciates the simple things in a complex world.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Thank you Brandi for everything! We really appreciate all the effort and hardwork you’ve put through into our Grad! 😊

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Allan says:

    Nice Job Brandi.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

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