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Celebrating Generations graduates

July 2009

The schools were alive with the sounds of graduation June 18.

The excitement was palpable. Adrian Bercovici, executive director of Generations Foundation, and I waited at the St. Gabriel Elementary School, a diamond in the rough and the only English Elementary School in Point St. Charles, for the graduates to arrive. We were warmly greeted by Principal Tina Ottoni.

The graduation decals on the walls and balloons in blue and white displayed the graduation committee’s planning and decorating skills. Student artwork was displayed everywhere as we entered. In the auditorium, the seats were well marked for the dignitaries, which included the regional director of the English Montreal School Board, Paola Miniaci.

George McRae had his cameras rolling as pianist Ann Stewart, at the keyboard of the grand piano, musically signaled the entry of the stylishly attired graduates.

Valedictorians Angelina Griffin and Hanen Salah gave their speeches, thanking those who had supported them throughout the years.

At Tina’s signal, Adrian and I were invited to present the Generations Foundation Citizenship and Community Award of a fully loaded laptop computer and plaque to each of two students, Britney Bourassa and Ramia Mathias. Each year, Generations Foundation presents a computer and plaque to a total of six students from three different schools, who are chosen by the school committees.

Adrian gave an off-the-cuff speech (which included the subject of food) and gave kudos to the kids and teachers. We bid everyone an apologetic farewell and scurried away to Nesbitt School.

On arrival, melodic tones of the piano wafted toward us and we were beckoned to the stage by the principal Mary Theophilopoulos and vice principal, George Koutsoulis. We sat alongside the teachers and dignitaries.

Award winners Kayla Richer and Alex Melgar of James Lyng, with Natalie and Adrian. Photos: George McRae

The students were greeted first by the principal and vice principal and then by police officer and governing board chair Judy Yankowski.

Awards were presented by the principal and the Home and School and then came the Generations Foundation award. We were invited to present our Citizenship and Community Award the two students, Kimberly Grimes and Tharsika Vadivel. Adrian gave a moving personal speech, which once again included our favourite subject – food – and encouraged the children to appreciate the support they had received from their teachers and parents. A piano solo, Albert Ellmenreich’s Spinning Song, was played by Chloe Sautter-Leger.

Farewell speeches were given by five students in French, English, Italian, Portuguese and Tamil.

Parents reached out to shake Adrian’s hand to express their thanks to Generations Foundation. All in attendance were invited to partake in the buffet table laden with cakes, pies and fruit prepared by parents and school committee members – a delicious and appropriate ending to the evening.

Award winner Ramia Mathias with Natalie, Adrian and principal Tina Ottoni

For the students, this was the beginning of the rest of their lives. For Adrian and me, it was a beautiful moment to share with the children and teens we support.

Natalie Bercovici is co-founder of Generations Foundation.



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