Guysborough grads take home $150,000 in prize money

By Helen Murphy    

More than $150,000 in scholarships and bursaries were was awarded to graduates of Guysborough Academy on June 28. Karla Nickerson was the top award winner, with $41,100 in prize money. Rounding out the top three were Aaron Mason with $14,525 in awards and Spencer MacKeen with $14,400 worth of awards.

Valedictorian Robby Duersch shared warm memories of the event’s guest speaker, former teacher Eddie Avery. “If it weren’t for Mr. Avery in Grade 1, I’m not sure I would’ve learned to enjoy school at all. In a way only he could, he taught us about responsibility, and how rewarding it can truly be. The best rewards were the dinky cars and the candy of course, but I’m sure we also built some much needed character. He taught all of us how to have fun in a classroom, which still proves important to this day.”

Avery spent 33 years teaching in Guysborough County schools before retiring in 2014. His teaching assignments included Hillside Elementary School, Riverview, St. Mary’s Elementary, and concluded at Chedabucto Education Centre as a Grade 1 teacher in 2014. Grad Spencer MacKeen’s introduction of Avery noted his contribution to improvement in the quality of teaching, learning and giving back to his community was captured in an Education Week Award he received for Active Citizenship: Get Involved, Take Action, Be the Difference. In his home community of Larry’s River, Avery is an active member of the fire department, St. Peter’s Parish and a member of the Guysborough County Community Choir.

Duersch went through a list of teachers from the earliest grades, sharing fond memories, with a special recollection of time spent in the class of the late Wayne Avery.

“Our mischievous ways started small, in Wayne Avery’s classroom. Mr. Avery was a fun yet strict teacher, but if we ever needed a class to just chill, a sure fire way of making that happen was to get him to start talking about sports. Whether it was hockey or baseball, Mr. Avery always had a story to tell, and we all agreed his stories were much more fun than learning about Confederation or how to order pizza in French. I am certain he will never be forgotten by anyone on this stage tonight.

In her closing lines, Duersch reminded the class of 2017 that they are both dreamers and doers.

“I have known you all for many years, and I believe any teacher that’s ever taught us can tell you that we are a force to be reckoned with. Us millennials may have a bad rep, but we are a generation of dreamers and doers, and as you begin this new life, as you start this crazy journey, don’t be fooled. We are the future of this world, and we have the power to shape the future, and there are no limits to how much we can do, how much positive change we can accomplish. And maybe you don’t need to change the world. Maybe you just need that positive change for one person, and it’s ok if that person is you. But believe in yourself, and remember the dreamer in you that made it all possible.”