The valedictorian for Northlands Parkway Collegiate in Winkler says it hasn't quite sunk in yet that graduation day has arrived.

Valedictorian Janae Zacharias says she's been strolling down memory lane a lot in the last while, pondering many of her personal highlights.

"I remember walking home every day with my best friend in elementary school and thinking about middle school and making forts at recess, and playing cops and robbers every week with my group of friends the summer we're off to grade eight," said Zacharias. "And the things that stick out to me the most during this stretch are the experiences that I've had with friends. There are really too many to recount. But now after high school, the friends that I'll keep are not just from middle school but from each of the feeder schools going into NPC.  Building new relationships with them has been really rewarding."

Zacharias says she would describe her graduating class as a resilient group of people. Not only because she has seen her class overcome challenges over the past years, but she has also seen diversity in how her classmates have found their voices.

"They're a group that has things that they're passionate about and who share those passions with others. And as we talk about the change that we want to see in the world many people in the class of 2022 are stepping into that leadership and share qualities that can create change, and I'm very excited to see how my classmates will make a difference because I see that in a lot of them."

Zacharias says it's been very rewarding to grow up with this group of people and it's been a really cool process of growing up to see the change in her peers and experiencing that change herself. "I'm just so thankful that I got to group with this group of people."

"I want to leave with them, that the challenges that they've overcome, have really been building their character, and as they go out from high school and experience life, we're going to keep overcoming those challenges because of the challenges we learned here at high school."

The class of 2022 at NPC has a wide variety of plans following their graduation from high school. Zacharias says she knows of multiple students who were in RRTVA courses and are planning to enter various trades. She knows of one student that's been accepted to pre-med, others who are looking to enter the field of education, and some who are considering taking a year off.

Zacharias says she plans to attend Millar College of the Bible in BC for one year, starting in the fall. After that, she intends to apply to university to get a degree in Education.

A portrait of NPC valedictorian Janae Zacharias. Janae has long light brown hair and is wearing a blue cap and gown.Janae Zacharias (Supplied photo)