Looking back on 2020, Cree School Board Hits New Record of High School Graduates

With 2020 coming to an end, it is a time to reflect on the year’s highlights. While dealing with the many challenges COVID brought, it can be easy to lose sight of our accomplishments. However, we must stop and count our blessings since with reflection comes appreciation and drive for a better future.

One of our best highlights of this year was the number of our high school graduates! The 2019-2020 school year had a record-breaking number - with 248 receiving their high school diploma! What a year!

Top photo: Waswanipi high school graduating class of 2020.

The journey was not easy for many, but the students rose to the challenge and proved their perseverance. They showed that student success is still possible in the middle of a global crisis.

As we remember, on April 23, 2020, the school year was disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced our students and teachers online. Students and teachers could not sit side-by-side in their classrooms, but with continuing their education online every student, including the Secondary 5, were given a chance to complete their school year.

Secondary 5 results and graduation rate

High School Graduates 2020 Graph 1

While most communities had many graduates, some schools with a larger population had the highest number of graduates, like Chisasibi, with 71 graduates, with Mistissini with 48 graduates.

All communities had about 90 per cent of their Secondary 5 graduation rate; some communities such as Eastmain had 100 per cent.

High School Graduates 2020 EastmainEastmain high school graduates celebrating with a hat toss

The Eastmain Principal acknowledges that everyone has a role to play in student success – it takes a village. “Parents played an important role,” said Trevor Mercer, principal at Wabannutao Eeyou School, “They ensured their children attended the online tutoring as well as doing the work that was provided by teachers.”

High School Graduates 2020 Graph 2

For the 2019-2020 school year, the overall success rate for all Cree schools was at 90 per cent. In comparison, last school year’s Secondary 5 graduation rate was at 54 per cent, making it a remarkable increase of 66.67 per cent!

Three Graduates Hopeful for 2021

High School Graduates 2020 Jerry Mianscum
Jerry Mianscum (middle) taking a photo with his cousins and grandmother. (Jerry Mianscum)

Jerry Mianscum, a graduate from Luke Mettaweskum School, remembers the school year as a difficult challenge, especially with the online learning transition. “It was hard without the teachers,” he said, “we would need their expertise on certain subjects.”

Overcoming the challenge, Mianscum felt accomplished for completing his high school education.

As for his plans, he has taken this academic year off to focus on family. However, once the pandemic is over, he will start thinking of going to college.

High School Graduates 2020 Reshawn Matoush
Reshawn Matoush receiving his high school diploma at a closed event. (Reshawn Matoush)

Reshawn Matoush, a Voyageur Memorial School graduate, recalls his favourite memory before the online transition. “One of my teachers would have hot chocolate in-class, and we would drink it,” he said, “it’s still my favourite memory even though I’m a graduate now.” Small gestures often go a long way.

Matoush has continued his education this Fall by enrolling in college and is exploring his career paths.

High School Graduates 2020 Alicia Tanoush Coon
Alicia Tanoush-Coon in her prom dress. (Alicia Tanoush-Coon)

Alicia Tanoush-Coon, a graduate from Luke Mettaweskum School, said she was happy to know that she was one of the 248 graduating class. “I feel like this generation can really do so much more in the future,” she said. Tanoush-Coon said being the eldest grandchild comes with the responsibility of being a great role model for her young cousins.

For her, attending college to study business in 2021 will be a great step in the right direction. She hopes that her cousins will follow in her footsteps.

As the year comes to an end, the graduates bring much hope for the next year. May 2021 bring new beginnings for all the 2019-2020 high school graduates. A big congratulations to the Class of 2020!

Cree School Board

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