The grade 12 class at Shevchenko School in Vita walked into the school as students the for last time last week but left as graduates. 

The school and community celebrated the 23 students who received their high school diplomas. 

"They are a really great group of kids," says Principal Peter Osadchuk. "I would say that they are a tight-knit group that really has formed really good relationships with each other. Good academically, good athletes, just all around some really, really good people."

Osadchuk says this year's graduation ceremony was back to normal, the way things were done pre-pandemic. In fact, he says when the last of the restrictions were lifted earlier this year, you could feel the excitement it brought back to the school.

"You could just sense that kids were happier," says Osadchuk. "Those first days of fewer mandates, it was just a wonderful experience."

Osadchuk says they had less time this year to plan the graduation ceremony, only because they did not know for the first six months of the school year what the restrictions would allow them to do. But, in the end, it was the traditional ceremony with two valedictorians, as is customary at Shevchenko. This year's valedictorians were Ethan Bolin and Lukas Klassen.

"They are just two outstanding citizens," he says. "And they have added a lot to the building."

Klassen says he was excited to learn that his peers had voted him to be one of this year's valedictorians. Having been with this class from day one, Klassen says he feels he has a good understanding of how to represent them.

Klassen has a special message for his graduating class.

"Work hard because great things don't happen if you don't put a lot of effort in," he says. "And never let fear stop you."

As for Bolin, he too expressed excitement in being selected, as valedictorian. Though he admitted being just a touch nervous to speak to a gym filled with family and friends. 

Here is his message to his fellow graduates:

"No matter what happens, whether they go to college, university, or they find a job and work, I wish them the best and that their lives go well," says Bolin.