Marguerite Helberg was voted valedictorian at J.L. Crowe Secondary in Trail this year by her peers. In an interview with Vista Radio, she reflected on high school life in highly unusual times.
Why were you interested in being valedictorian?
I get along pretty well with people. I feel very comfortable talking to anyone in my grad class. So I thought why not give it a try? I thought it would be fun. In English 12 we just finished a unit on speechwriting and I had a lot of fun with it.
What was the gist of your speech?
I decided to make my speech about the importance of community and how you need people to support you and help guide you through life, and how it’s important to find new community as we move forward with our lives.
Did you allude to COVID? Your class went through the whole thing.
Yes. I didn’t specifically say COVID at all, but in one part I said “As a community we overcame challenges and created memories together.” All of the challenges we faced were because of COVID. In Grade 10, we had to learn how to switch over to online learning. In Grade 11 we had to succeed in the quarter system instead of the semester system. It was a COVID protocol. So I spoke towards it, but didn’t actually say the word.
How did you cope with it? Was it difficult or were you able to adapt easily?
It was a challenge as all new things are, but it was something we had to do. Going to high school throughout COVID and throughout all of the changes in the world lately, we’ve had to become super adaptable. It’s just another thing we have to get through, have to learn how to do.
Did you feel you were at a disadvantage because of it?
I don’t know if I would call it a disadvantage. It was obviously different than what other people before us got to do. We didn’t get maybe the complete high school experience that a lot of other grad classes had. But I think we still had a really good experience and all got to make good memories together and I think that’s what matters most.
The grad ceremony at least was normal?
Yes. We were so lucky with that. We got to have a real grad, the way it used to be done which hasn’t happened in the past two years. I’m super grateful we got to have a pretty normal grad year after two years of having a lot to process.
What’s next for you?
In September I will be going to UBCO to get my bachelor of science. The next step is my bachelor of education and I hope to be a high school science teacher.