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Excited graduates shortly before entering the gym for the Dinner


The student population of IHMS changes at the beginning of each new school year. As students are promoted to the next grade, a new kindergarten class is formed, and everyone else moves up one grade. Of course, students in grade 8 will eventually have to leave in order to attend another school the following September. Students that leave at the end of grade 8 are given a formal farewell in the last big event of the school year – graduation!


A few of the grads posing in front of the backdrop for the  “photo booth”


Graduation is always a bitter-sweet affair, and the grads usually have mixed feelings about leaving. Most have been together since attending sadochok (nursery school) 10 years ago. That means most of the grads have known each other since they were only 4 years old! When classes resume in September, the grads will all be enrolled in a new school.


The 2017 IHMS graduation was planned and organized by the school’s grade 8 teacher Mrs. D. Wittevrongel. In a sense, Mrs. Wittevrongel is also “graduating” – she’s retiring from teaching and will not be returning to IHMS for the 2017-18 school year.



To celebrate this important milestone, the grade 8 teacher, Ms. Wittevrongel (pictured above) spent a lot of time preparing the graduates for their big day. She organizes two important events for the graduating grade 8 class:

  1. The Graduation Divine Liturgy
  2. The Graduation Dinner and Dance





This year, both the Graduation Divine Liturgy and the Graduation Dinner and Dance took place on the same day, Wednesday, June 28.



Since both the Divine Liturgy and the Dinner and Dance were planned for the same day, Mrs. Wittevrongel decided to schedule the two events close to each other. The Graduation Divine Liturgy began at 1:30 p.m. and the Graduation Dinner and Dance started a few hours later at 5:00 p.m. This gave the grads a few hours in between to relax back at the school.


Students and parents socializing and enjoying some light refreshments in the few hours between the Graduation Divine Liturgy and the Graduation Dinner and Dance.


Most grads and their parents returned to IHMS after the Graduation Liturgy to relax, to socialize, and to enjoy some light refreshments set out in the gym.


A three dimensional representation of the year “2017” constructed by the grade 8 grads and sitting at the entrance to the gym.


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As has been the custom for many years, the Graduation Divine Liturgy took place at Sts. Vladimir and Olga Cathedral on McGregor St. In the past, the Graduation Divine Liturgy was always scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., half an hour later than the school’s usual monthly Liturgies. However, since 2016 the Graduation Divine Liturgy has been moved to the afternoon at 1:30 p.m., giving the grads a lot of extra time to pose for photographs and attend to any last minute preparations.


The Graduation Divine Liturgy took place at Sts. Vladimir and Olga Cathedral


The Graduation Divine Liturgy is by far the most attended and most important of the school’s monthly Liturgies. There were a lot of proud parents, grandparents, and other invited guests in attendance, along with a lot of nervous and excited graduates. Most of the parents and grandparents were also planning to attend the Graduation Dinner and Dance later that afternoon. Since Sts. Vladimir and Olga Cathedral is only a 5 minute walk from the school, everyone left for the cathedral around 1:15 p.m.


The ceremony began at 1:30 p.m. with each graduate carrying a long-stemmed rose down the centre aisle up to the front of the cathedral. They left their rose in a vase on the altar and then proceeded to their pews at the front of the church.


Each grad carried a long stemmed white rose down the centre aisle of the cathedral


Despite the excitement of the Liturgy, the graduates knew exactly what to do because Ms. Wittevrongel had prepared them well with numerous rehearsals. Everyone looked great – this was a formal affair and the graduates dressed accordingly. The girls styled their hair and wore fashionable dresses while the boys dressed up suits and ties.


The grads dressed formally for the occasion


During the Liturgy, Myles C.. read the Epistle while Ashlynn A. read the grade 8 prayer intention. The Liturgy was celebrated by two priests – Father Isadore Dziadyk, OSBM, and Rev. Dr. Michael Kwiatkowski, the pastor at Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church.


After the Liturgy, each graduate was called up one at a time to receive a certificate and an IHMS medallion. They then lined up in front of the altar for a series of group and individual photographs.


Each graduate went up to the front of the cathedral to receive a certificate and an IHMS medallion


After posing for photos, the graduates were free to leave with their parents as long as they returned to IHMS by 5:00 p.m. for the Dinner and Dance. Many grads and their parents chose to return to the school to socialize and relax while enjoying some light refreshments.


After the Divine Liturgy, the graduates lined up in front of the altar to pose one last time as a class. Click here to view in larger format.


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Mrs. Wittevrongel and the grade 8 grads set up the tables in the gym the day before the Graduation Dinner and Dance (top photos). A poster with the Dinner’s seating plan was set up near the gym entrance so that parents knew exactly where to sit (bottom photo).



The Dinner began at 5:00 p.m., while the Dance was scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. A head table was set up along the back wall for the graduates, and a nearby table was reserved for IHMS staff. All the remaining tables were designated for guests – mainly parents, but also some grandparents and siblings.


The graduation quotation was displayed on the wall behind the head table



The Dinner started out with Mr. Picklyk asking everyone in attendance to welcome the IHMS graduates of  2017. As parents and teachers applauded, the students began their procession from the front landing of the school into the gym and to their reserved seats at the head table.


As parents and teachers stood and applauded, the 2017 grads, led by student council president Myles C.., entered the gym and proceeded to their predetermined seat at the head table.


The Master of Ceremonies for the Dinner was Myles C., the student council president. To get things started, he called upon Father Isadore Dziadyk, OSBM to say the opening prayer and bless the food.


Student council president Myles C. was Master of Ceremonies for the Dinner (top photo) and Father Isadore Dziadyk, OSBM blessed the food and gave the opening prayer (bottom photo).


After the opening prayer, the graduates were given priority in starting the line to the self serve buffet. The rest of the guests followed after the number to their table was randomly selected by Mrs. Wittevrongel.


 As guests of honour, the grade 8 grads were first up for the self serve buffet. Everyone was very impressed with the quality and variety of the food, and there wasn’t a single negative complaint by anyone!


This year’s meal was prepared by the same catering company as last year – Sevala’s Ukrainian Deli & Catering. The food included fried boneless chicken breasts, meatballs, perogies, cabbage rolls, glazed baby carrots, coleslaw, and fresh buns. There was also iced tea and coffee to drink, and 2 types of cake for dessert – a marble cake and a cheesecake. This is the same type of menu that the school has ordered for the Graduation Dinner for many years, and for a good reason – it’s delicious!


Examples of the food served at the Graduation Dinner from Sevela’s Ukrainian Deli and Catering.


After everyone finished eating, Mr. Jason Brennan, Chairperson of the IHMS Board of Trustees, conveyed his greetings to the graduates. He gave a genuinely interesting speech based on the quotation on the gym wall: “There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in”. Mr. Brennan argued for the importance and relevance of the quotation, and gave a very powerful example from his own experience as a high school student at St, Pauls High School.


IHMS school board Chairman Mr. Jason Brennan gave the graduates some interesting and practical advice about life’s opportunities based on the quotation on the gym wall: “There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in”.


Next, Myles announced that each graduate would be giving their parents a small gift as a token of appreciation for their support and unconditional love over the years. The gift was a framed grad picture of themselves in their grad hoodies. Each of the graduates got up from their table to present the gift to their parents.


Abby S., Komal B., and Serhiy S. presenting a gift to their parents


The grads also presented a gift of appreciation to certain staff members: Sr. Anne, Mr. Picklyk, Mr. Trochanowski, Mrs. Dudych, Mrs. Walkow, Mr. Fil, and finally, Mrs. Wittevrongel.


School secretary Mrs. O. Dudych and IHMS custodian Mr. I. Fil receiving a gift of appreciation from Abby and Komal on behalf of the entire grade 8 class.


Next, Mr. Picklyk gave a short speech followed by a video he had prepared. The video was projected onto the gym wall and documented some of the events of the past 10 years, from sadochok to the present day.


Mr. Picklyk gave a short speech to the graduates just before showing his much anticipated video of some of the major events in the lives of the graduates over the past 10 years (this was the first year where some students have been at IHMS since Sadochok – the first “super-teners”,


After giving his farewell speech to the graduates, Mr. Picklyk set up his laptop to a projector for one of the most anticipated parts of the graduation dinner – a  video of some of the most important events in the lives of the graduates over the past 10 years. Some parts were touching and very moving, but most of the video was funny!


Images of the grads from the past ten years that were projected onto the gym wall


The video has become a yearly tradition at the graduation dinner, and guests always look forward to it. It’s funny and cute watching the graduates back when they were in kindergarten and grade 1. The graduates soon came to realize of how much they’ve changed over the years. They were also starting to realize that their time at IHMS was quickly coming to an end.


After the video, Myles C, gave a short farewell speech on behalf of her fellow classmates. He did an excellent job, and was both serious, thought-provoking, and funny.


Student council president Myles C. delivering a heart-felt  farewell speech to the parents and staff of IHMS on behalf of the grade 8 graduates


Next, two grade 8 girls, Abby S. and Komal B. handed out awards (in the form of sashes) to each of the other students in the graduating class. This unique and creative idea began two years ago, and it was such a success that Mrs. Wittevrongel decided to continue doing it again this year. The sashes were mainly humorous awards, meant to recognize some of the positive characteristics in each of the graduating students. It’s an interesting concept, and it was fun and interesting to watch.


Abby S. and Komal B. handed out humerous awards in the form of a sash to each of the grade 8 grads. The two girls were extremely funny and amusing to watch. Their presentations were one of the most entertaining parts of the evening!


This was followed by a class recitation of a type of poetry called “slam poetry”.


The grade 8’s summed up some of their most memorable experiences at IHMS by expressing themselves in the form of a type of spoken poetry called “slam poetry”.


Finally, to end the dinner portion of the evening, Sr. Janice Soluk, SSMI gave the closing prayer.


Sr. Janice Soluk, SSMI officially ended  the dinner portion of the evening with a closing prayer


By now, it was close to 7:30, and the grads were looking forward to the dance part of the evening. However, before everyone left, Mr. Picklyk asked everyone to remain behind for a few minutes to help clean up, to put the tables back into storage, and to make room on the gym floor for the Graduation Dance.


Music, as in past years, was provided by Crystal Sound.


The Music Man for Crystal Sound posing for a photo. He’s the same Music Man that the school has been hiring for years, and he’s a great guy!


Everyone, including parents, grads, and teachers pitched in to clean up in preparation for the dance. In addition to the graduates, the grade 7’s and alumni from previous years were also invited to the dance. Parents and guests left with the intention of returning at the end of the the evening (11:00 p.m.) to provide rides home. Everything worked as planned, and the graduates enjoyed a beautiful evening with memories that should last a lifetime.


The dance portion of the evening began shortly after Sr. Janice gave her closing prayer. Clean up went quickly because everyone pitched in to help, including the grade 7 students (top photo).




Grade 8 grad Neo K., while sitting behind the principal’s desk,  sums up his feelings about the end of the school year 






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