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IMG_1489Today I had the distinct honour to attend the grand opening of the new Oak Bay Secondary School. Honourable Mike Bernier, British Columbia’s new Education Minister (right), Nils Jensen, Mayor of Oak Bay (right) and I gave brief speeches at the ceremony. Further presentations were given by Deborah Nohr, Trustee in School District 61 and Piet Langstraat, School District 61 Superintendent.

IMG_1504Dave Thomson, principal of Oak Bay Secondary School (left) was the Master of Ceremonies. He also introduced four students, each representing one of Oak Bay’s Pillars of Excellence: Academics (Robert Lee), Athletics (Matti Grant), Fine Arts (Veronique Beaudet) and Community Leadership and Philanthropy (Ruby Tang). These young leaders brought their own personal message to the large crowd – a message building upon comments they received this past spring from Alumni who passed them the torch (signifying a passage from the old school to the new).

Of course, while Oak Bay has four Pillars of Excellence from a student perspective, the school has a critical and foundational pillar in Mr. Dave Thomson. Without his tireless effort to guide the school through the transition from the old to the new, we would not have been in a position to celebrate the successes we did today.

Below is the text of my address:

Text of my Speech

Minister Bernier, Mayor Jensen, Distinguished Guests, Principal Thomson, Staff and especially Oak Bay Secondary School Students:

IMG_1496It is a distinct honour for me to be standing here before you as the MLA for Oak Bay Gordon Head. But even more importantly, it’s an honour for me to be here before you as a member of the Oak Bay class of 1979.

When I see you, the students in the audience, I see a future full of hope and opportunity. You, the youth of today, are an inspiration to me. Your passion is infectious. Your innovation and creativity fills me with hope. Your desire to make the world a better place through your community leadership is profoundly appreciated. Thank you for all you have done and all that you will continue to do for the betterment of the world around us.

If you are in Grade 9, we’re now in the only Oak Bay Secondary School you will ever know. For the older students, you have been witness to years of construction and upheaval as the new school was being built. It must be extremely exciting to finally transition into your new school.

IMG_1490There is so much to be proud of at Oak Bay Secondary. Collectively you have excelled in all your Pillars of Excellence: Academics, Athletics, Fine Arts and Community Leadership and Philanthropy.

Let me give you but a few examples. In the area of Leadership, Ian Cameron, student council president during my grad year is now an ABC News executive producer and married to the US National Security Advisor, Susan Rice – they are some of President Obama’s favourite dinner guests. To Academics: At my graduation, Pierre Berton, one of Canada’s most celebrated non-fiction writers and storytellers, and himself a member of the 1937 graduating class, addressed my class of 1979. To Athletics: Donald Carson, Norman Hadley and Mark Wyatt, some of Canada’s most highly regarded rugby stars are all graduates from Oak Bay (around the time I was playing rugby at this school). And to Fine Arts: Roy Henry Vickers, a household name and distinguished First Nations artist, author and speaker whose work can be found around the world was a member of the class of 1965.

CQvoEQzUAAA2CvzI’ve only mentioned a few former alumni. Their successes could be yours. No, their successes will be yours as you continue your journey whose foundation began with the outstanding education you will receive at this new school.

I want to offer my sincere thanks to all the dedicated teachers, administrators and staff at Oak Bay – collectively you have contributed so much to the success of the students and the wonderful culture that exists here. I also want to acknowledge with gratitude the dedicated district leadership, my predecessor Ida Chong, and this government for their ongoing commitment to build this remarkable new facility.

Congratulations on the opening of the New Oak Bay High School and thank you for the opportunity to address you today. Enjoy your new school and continue your proud tradition of excellence in whatever path you choose to follow.

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