Belmont valedictorian Molly McDowell-Powlowski will be graduating alongside approximately 400 other Grade 12 students at ceremonies Saturday (June 7) at the University of Victoria. Her high school experience has taught her a lot

Belmont’s Class of 2014 ready to say so long

A multi-talented group of West Shore students prepare for the next stage of life

Molly McDowell-Powlowski leaves Belmont secondary with mixed emotions.

It hasn’t always been easy, but the soon-to-be graduate said her three years at the school are a collective experience she will always remember.

“Even though we are all nervous and kind of scared in what comes next, from the students’ perspective it is great to finally see the fruits of our labour,” she says. “To see that community at the end of it, that is a great feeling.”

The school valedictorian leads Belmont’s 2014 graduating class into Saturday’s (June 7) ceremony at the University of Victoria, leaving behind a faculty and staff she says taught her not only the value of academics, but community.

Students and teachers working together on initiatives such as the food drive 10,000 Tonight – roughly 20,000 items were collected for the Goldstream Food Bank last December – were also important pieces of her education, she adds.

“From a student perspective it is not an easy three years. You are finding yourself and figuring out who you are,” said McDowell-Powlowski, 17.

“It’s incredible. Any teacher, any administrator, you are able to approach them and get help whenever you need. The faculty are the most inspirational people and you always have someone to look up to and go to. We wouldn’t be here at grad without the amazing staff.”

The 400 or so students who will graduate from Belmont this year are the second-to-last class to graduate from the existing school building. The school moves to a new location nearby for the 2015-2016 year.

“The neat thing about this year is they have been here for three years and I will have been here for three years, so we are going to be graduating together,” said principal Ray Miller, laughing. “The only problem is I will be back in September and they (won’t be).”

Besides that special connection, he feels mixed emotions seeing the students, many of whom he knows by name, start the next chapter of their lives.

“This has been an amazing experience as an educator, to see the last three years of their education pathway,” he said. “The system is designed for a lot of creativity and choice and that is what we typically see, students finding their passion and finding their dreams.”

McDowell-Powlowski, too, is proud of the students she’ll graduate beside and looks forward to seeing what the future holds. “It is through your peers you can really find yourself. My friends are my role models – these are the people who have such caring hearts.

“What I have seen from so many Belmont students, when they put their passion and hearts into something, (they are) unstoppable. I am honoured to represent this group of people, because I know what is in store for them is an amazing, bright future. It is an amazing thing to see where it all starts.”

Two ceremonies happen for Belmont students at the Farquhar Auditorium at UVic, one at 11 a.m. and the other at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

alim@vicnews.com