A daunting challenge requires someone who can think carefully then act or talk, and that describes Alberni District Secondary School Grade 12 student Tia Sogge to a T.
The thoughtful and articulate graduate who plays the bass and piano was elected to be the class of 2011 valedictorian for the ceremony being held next Thursday night (June 30).
Her nominator for valedictorian was none other than MC Kari-Lea Charlesworth, whom she’s known for more than six years.
“My sister phoned me to tell me I won while I was away on a band trip,” Sogge said.
“For a whole group of students, people want me to represent them; this role is huge,” Sogge said.
It’s been a long road since her days at John Howitt Elementary and AW Neill Middle School, but Soggee and 260 other grads will finally walk off the stage and onto the next stage of their lives.
Today the high school operates programs to acclimatize Grade 9’s to the high school, something Sogge says would have allayed the scare stories.
“In Grade 9 we stuck together just in case something happened,” she said.
“But now I look back at it and there wasn’t anything waiting to happen to us.”
Sogge’s senior year went by quickly, and the notion that she is leaving high school is setting set in.
She’ll miss the way Totem brings the school together and she’ll miss Madame Chambers.
“She really knows the line between being supportive and not getting too personal and I respect that.” Sogge said.
Learning about social justice issues left an indelible mark in Sogge’s life. She experienced some of these issues first hand during a missionary trip to Honduras, where she saw families scavenging in the garbage dump where they lived.
She’s taking general sciences at North Island College this fall, and hopes to do humanitarian work in Africa eventually.
Sogge has already written her valedictorian speech, which she had to pass on to principal Mike Ruttan for screening and editing.
In her speech she describes looking back on memories— some of which were difficult.
“There were elementary schools that closed in our generation,” she said.
“I was in Grade 5 at Beaver Creek Elementary when it closed and we were moved to Gill school.”
She wants to include a passage from the valedictorian speech given by her grandmother when she graduated, as well as a particular passage she’s fond of.
“What lays behind you and what lays ahead of you is not as important as what lies within you,” Sogge quoted.
There’s a tinge of sadness leaving high school, she said, “but it’s time to start something different – I’m ready.”
MC Charlesworth well suited for public role
Port Alberni resident Kari-Lea Charlesworth says she still doesn’t feel like she is one of the big kids, even though she is graduating from high school next week.
Secondary school is ending and adult life is just beginning for the Grade 12 student, who has been elected to be the MC for the Alberni District Secondary School class of 2011.
“I still feel like I should be getting up at 8 a.m. to go to school,” the effervescent basketball and volleyball player said.
“It still hasn’t hit me that next week high school is over.”
Charlesworth beat two other contenders in the election for the MC spot two weeks ago.
Some people are a natural fit for a role, and Charlesworth fits hers.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I like to talk and talk, and to make people laugh,” she said.
“If I wasn’t the MC and was sitting in the seats that’s what I’d be doing—talking.”
The reality that Charlesworth was in her final year of high school hit her on the first day of school in September.
“I though ‘crap— summer is over,” she said.
“Then I saw all these little Grade 9’s wearing big drooping backpacks walking around the halls with their neat timetables out looking lost.”
The first day of Grade 9 stands out for Charlesworth mostly because she was late for her first class, which was the wrong class to boot.
Charlesworth remembers every Halloween since Grade 9, including the one when she had jaw surgery and couldn’t eat candy for three weeks.
“I remember the good times—even the ones I shouldn’t mention.”
Charlesworth wants to be a teacher and is starting her first year of college classes at North Island College this September.
She credits teachers like retiring Jim Seredick for making school a positive experience.
“A lot of people say he’s kind of weird and that he growls at people,” Charlesworth said.
“But he’s involved with athletics and as an English teacher he’s a lot of fun.”
But she also credits her parents for getting her through high school and for setting an example of life afterward.
“They worked so hard for my sisters and I and they’ve always pulled through,” she said.
“They showed me how hard I need to work for whatever I want in life.”