COCHRANE— Graduating valedictorian of St. Timothy Junior/High School was made all the more special for Mikayla Gale, 18, because she was born and raised in a community she loves.
“Some of the people I went to preschool with I still know and talk to them,” Gale said.
The experience growing up in a close-knit community captures the feeling of what makes Cochrane special, Gale said.
“It something I’m very thankful for."
It has been an interesting final year of school, Gale said, explaining that it has not been anything like she expected.
When they started Grade 12 in September her teachers cautioned “that time would go by so fast,” Gale said. “We got to March in what seemed like the blink of an eye.”
Her final year underwent a life-changing transformation when schools were forced to close their doors due to the COVID-19 public health measures.
Her last day of school was on Friday, March 13 and it marked the last time she was able to see her classmates in-person.
“I’m so sad that I didn’t get to say goodbye to my classmates and teachers,” Gale said.
It was difficult adapting to working at home and finding the motivation to keep on top of her studies without her friends and teachers by her side, but the valedictorian persevered.
Gale added that she wishes they could have had a real in-person graduation ceremony, but appreciates the celebration they were able to have.
St. Timothy's held a drive-thru graduation for the Class of 2020 to receive their diplomas and see staff one more time.
The school also recorded an online commencement which served as the platform for Gale to give her valedictorian speech.
In her speech, Gale said she highlighted that people need to overcome and adapt to adversity, the topic seemed fitting she said given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Change will happen, but we really have to stick together and cherish the fact that we still have each other. Cherish the fact that we are healthy,” Gale said. “Personally, I have grown a lot even since March.”
Being named valedictorian has been a bright spot in what has been a difficult situation.
“It was pretty surreal,” Gale said. “I was thrilled. I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to do something.”
In the fall Gale said she was planning on attending the University of Calgary, depending on when students can return to the classroom.
Gale said she wanted to go to the University of Calgary because it is close to home, but she has not ruled out exploring the world after she gets her degree.
Gale will be focussing on science and biology at university because she would like to eventually go into medicine.