Speeches | Queen Elizabeth High School - Congratulations on Fiftieth Anniversary

23 June 2011

Honourable senators, it is my pleasure to speak to the fiftieth anniversary of my alma mater, Queen Elizabeth High School, in Edmonton.

On Saturday, June 11, Principal Don Blackwell welcomed graduates and their families, as well as former and present teachers, to the celebration. The official program included the unveiling of a time capsule and performances by the school's choir and dance students, all of which were excellent.

There was also the unveiling of a "wall of fame," recognizing the first five inductees to this wall of fame honour. They included Scotty "Bulldog" Olson, a former world flyweight champion boxer and a member of the Canadian Olympic team in 1988; Tara Feser-Scade, a wheelchair basketball player and a member of the Canadian Paralympic team in 2008; Lance Roberts, an NHL referee, who, by the way, was too young to have ever refereed my colleague Senator Mahovlich, although he would have welcomed the chance; and Ryan Davidson, a recording artist in country and western music.

I also was honoured to be in this group of five inductees, a full 41 years after I graduated. As I stood with Tara and Scotty, I thought perhaps I would have been recognized for my athletic prowess, but that was not the case. Of course, I was recognized for my political career, and I am grateful for that award.

At this special celebration I was reminded of so many good times, great people and important experiences. I saw Clarence Kachman, my physical education teacher and wrestling coach, who had such a great influence on my life. I was reminded of Ms. Shaw and Ms. Mosely, who brought literature alive for me. I also thought of Mr. Sparks, one of my social studies teachers who opened my eyes to the possibility of politics and public life.

Queen Elizabeth is a great school where students receive an outstanding academic education to this day. Over the years, the school has served a community of hard-working people. If you were a student at Queen Elizabeth, you understood that you had to work for and earn everything that you would do in life. If you took what Queen E. could give you, a good education, in particular, a good set of values, you would have a good chance at an interesting and productive life.

This school was, and is, a real microcosm of what Canada is because it serves an area with so many different immigrant cultures. People there are from all over the world. I love that. We learn so much from people who come from elsewhere and bring their cultures, ideas and, of course, food. There is such richness in all these cultures and lessons in accepting one another's differences that was, and is, a profound legacy of Queen Elizabeth High School.

My most recent contact with the school has been with Terry Godwaldt and his remarkable work in The Centre for Global Education, which he created at the school. He worked on many projects, including DeforestACTION, headed by Abraham Amaouie, a Grade 10 student. Last year Terry linked me into an international video seminar on climate change and Aboriginal peoples using a network and technology that his project has perfected and utilizes all the time. I sat in a classroom in Ottawa and talked with students in classrooms thousands of miles away, in Canada and elsewhere. The seminar was moderated by Aboriginal students from Queen Elizabeth.

Here again is evidence of the continuing excellence of Queen Elizabeth High School. I am immensely proud to have been a graduate of this school. I congratulate Queen Elizabeth High School and all the people who have attended, taught, assisted and administered there, and who have made that school the success it has been over the last 50 years.

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