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!


More excited graduates posing for the camera a few minutes before the start of the Dinner


Graduation is always a bitter-sweet affair, and the grads usually have mixed feelings about leaving. Many have been together since attending nursery school 10 years ago (IHMS discontinued the nursery program a few years ago in favour of full time kindergarten). That means many 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.


In September, these grade 8 students will be enrolled in a new school for grade 9


To celebrate this important milestone, Mrs. Walton 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


The 2019 IHMS Graduation Dinner and Dance was planned and organized by the school’s grade 8 teacher Mrs. Walton



Since both the Divine Liturgy and the Dinner and Dance were planned for the same day, Mrs. Walton 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.




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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.


The graduates took turns carrying a long-stemmed rose from the back of the cathedral to a glass vase at the front. You may be wondering “Why are the grads carrying long-stemmed roses to the altar?”. This isn’t a reality television program and there’s no symbolic meaning in carrying a long stemmed rose! It’s simply a way for the graduates to take their seat at the front of the cathedral, and also a way to give each grad a moment of individual recognition as they move, one at a time, down the centre aisle to the front. The rose is simply a prop.


Despite the excitement of the Liturgy, the graduates knew exactly what to do because Mrs. Walton 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 in suits and ties.


The grade 8 graduates at the front of the church in their pews (top photo), and posing near the altar after receiving their IHMS graduation medallion (bottom photos).


The Liturgy was celebrated by four priests:

  1. Father Isadore Dziadyk, OSBM (the school’s dedicated pastor), 
  2. Rev. Dr. Michael Kwiatkowski, the pastor at Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church.
  3. Msgr. Michael Buyachok, the priest at Sts. Vladimir & Olga Cathedral, and
  4. Rev. Ihor Shved, the father of one of the grade 8 graduates.


Nicholas W. read the Epistle for the Graduation Liturgy


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.


The grade 8’s were called to the altar, one student at a time, to receive two important graduation mementos. First of all, they received a graduation certificate from Sr. Ruth Aney, SSMI. They also received an IHMS graduation medallion from Sr. Jean Zemliak, SSMI, the current Director of IHMS. Many of the grads continued to wear their medallion during the Graduation Dinner and Dance later that day.


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.


This is the last group photo ever taken of the school’s 2019 graduating class. The grads are posing behind the altar of Sts. Vladimir and Olga Cathedral with their homeroom teacher, Mrs. Walton; their principal, Mr. Picklyk; and the 4 priests who celebrated the graduation liturgy – Father Isadore Dziadyk, OSBM; Rev. Ihor Shved; Rev. Dr. Michael Kwiatkowski; and Msgr. Michael Buyachok. Click here to view in larger format,


Once students and parents returned to IHMS after the Graduation Liturgy (which ended at approximately 3 o’clock), they still had about a two hour wait before dinner was served. Recognizing the importance of making her guests feel as comfortable as possible, Mrs. Walton set out several tables of food and beverages near the entrance to the gym. In this way, students and parents could socialize and enjoy some light refreshments during the few hours between the Graduation Divine Liturgy and the Graduation Dinner and Dance.


Once students and parents returned to the school after the Graduation Liturgy (which ended at approximately 3 o’clock), there was still a two hour wait before dinner was served. Mrs. Walton recognized that her guests might enjoy some light refreshments in the meantime, so she set out two tables in the gym, one with light snacks and one with beverages.



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Mrs. Walton 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 photos).


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.


A front view of the head table with this year’s graduation quote on the back wall.


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


A few of the interesting items displayed on the wall in the gym


The Dinner started out with Mr. Picklyk asking everyone in attendance to welcome the IHMS graduates of  2019. 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.


The grade 8 grads waiting to enter into the gym


The Master of Ceremonies for the Dinner was Anton A., the student council president. To get things started, he called upon Sister Darleane Pelechaty SSMI to say the opening prayer and bless the food.


Student council president Anton A. was Master of Ceremonies for the Graduation Dinner (top photo). He did a fantastic job keeping everything moving smoothly and on time. Well done, Anton! The opening prayer and blessing of the food was performed by Sister Darleane Pelechaty SSMI (bottom photo).



In order to keep the buffet tables from being overwhelmed with too many guests at one time, Mrs. Walton wisely labelled each table with a number. She then randomly selected a different table every few minutes to get their food.


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.Walton


As guests of honour, the grade 8 grads were first in line for the self serve buffet. Everyone else, including parents and invited guests, were randomly selected afterwards one table at a time. The food was a bit expensive, but it was high quality, homemade Ukrainian cuisine, and there wasn’t a single negative complaint by anyone! “Sevala’s Ukrainian Deli & Catering” gets an A+ rating for quality.


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, coleslaw, and fresh buns. There was also iced tea and coffee to drink, and 2 types of cake for dessert. 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 from Sevala’s Ukrainian Deli and Catering


Sevala’s Ukrainian Deli & Catering



After everyone finished eating, a member of the IHMS School Board, Mr. S. Waplak, conveyed his  greetings to the graduates.


IHMS school board member Mr. S. Waplak gave the graduates some important advice about charting their journey through life after moving on to another school this fall.


Next, Anton 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.


Grade 8 graduates presenting a gift to their parents (a framed picture of themselves in their grad hoodies) for their unconditional love and support over the years. Two examples are shown in the bottom photo.


Next, Mr. Picklyk gave a short farewell speech followed by a video he had prepared. The video was projected onto the gym wall and documented many of the events of the past 10 years, from sadochok to the present day. The video is one of the most anticipated parts of the graduation dinner – it’s usually both poignant and funny at the sane time


Mr. Picklyk gave a short speech to the graduates after showing his video of some of the major events in the lives of the graduates over the past 10 years.


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, Anton gave a short farewell speech on behalf of his fellow classmates. He did an excellent job, and was both serious, thought-provoking, and funny.


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


Next, three grade 8 students handed out awards (in the form of small trophies) to each of the other students in the graduating class. This unique and creative idea began four years ago, and it was such a success that Mrs. Walton decided to continue doing it again this year.


Before Sr. Jean ended the Graduation Dinner with a closing prayer, Mrs. Walton had one last interesting item on the agenda – humorous awards presented to each of the grade 8 graduates. The awards, which were in the form of a small labelled trophy (see above photo), were an amusing and entertaining way to end the Graduation Dinner.


The trophies 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.


Humorous awards were handed out to every student in the graduating class. The presentations were not only interesting and entertaining, but they also provided some insight into how the grade 8 students feel about their fellow classmates


Finally, to end the dinner portion of the evening, Sr. Jean Zemliak, SSMI gave the closing prayer.


The current Director of IHMS, Sr. Jean Zemliak, SSMI, gave the 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 the parents and guests 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.



Crystal Sound


Crystal Sound has been playing music for our school’s graduation dance for many years. In fact, the music has been played by the same DJ, Roger P., (pictured above) all this time. 


Everyone, including parents, grads, and teachers pitched in to clean up in preparation for the dance. In addition to the graduates, the grade 7 students 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.