They worked, stressed, studied, and on June 29th, all that hard work paid off as Portage Collegiate Institute graduates walked across the stage and received their high school diplomas.

Business education teacher Shawn Hopps says it means so much to him to see the students graduating, as he's established a good connection after four years of teaching these now young adults. He mentions, that regardless of how tough or stressful the school year can be, being able to see the students celebrating with their families makes it all worth it.

"I hope what they take from my class is just to have an open perspective of the world and look at everything as an opportunity rather than a hardship," explains Hopps. "They've had roadblocks over the last four years of their high school, and they're going to continue to have roadblocks, but every single one of those roadblocks leads to an opportunity to find a new way to succeed in life."

He mentions his favourite part of the school year was seeing the classroom regain a sense of normalcy following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Graduate Shelby Brown says it feels great to be able to experience her graduation without the threat of COVID-19-related restrictions looming. As someone who's spent her entire educational journey in Portage, she's grateful for the relationships she's formed with her friends here.

"Making new friends and like realizing what the opportunities are in life," Brown responds when asked what her schooling highlights were.

Kaylee Dreger says after 13 years of schooling, as well as a pandemic, it feels amazing to be on the other side of it all. She notes she's grateful to have had the opportunity to partake in extra-curricular activities and sports throughout her time as a student.

She talks about what she's going to take with her as she moves on from high school and takes strides toward becoming a nurse.

"Just how hardworking I am and everything else I've learned through the years."

Ryan Mallard adds that it's a refreshing, but also melancholy feeling to be done with schooling, saying it feels like it truly is the start of the next part in his life. 

"I'm planning to take a degree in creative writing and could apply computer science," explains Mallard. "I've always loved being a writer, and if anything I would just be so thrilled to be able to put my imagination and pieces of work into the world for other people to see and be inspired."

"It's totally surreal, I can't believe it's actually happening now," notes Jalen Brown, the Co-Senior Male Athlete of the Year for PCI. "Now I have to go out and be an adult so we'll go from there."

"It's so weird," mentions Karly Vince, the Senior Female Athlete of the Year. "It doesn't feel real at all. It feels like I should be going back to school next year."

PortageOnline congratulates all students in the 2022 graduating class.