From left, Ucluelet Secondary School Class of 2022 members Keanna Hasz, Serena Porter, Pani Ayoubizadeh and Orion Lefevre are excited to embark on new adventures after wrapping up their West Coast high school experience. (Andrew Bailey photo)

From left, Ucluelet Secondary School Class of 2022 members Keanna Hasz, Serena Porter, Pani Ayoubizadeh and Orion Lefevre are excited to embark on new adventures after wrapping up their West Coast high school experience. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Tofino-Ucluelet graduates ready for new adventures

The West Coast’s Class of 2022 is ready to make their marks on the world

Graduation season has arrived and the West Coast’s Class of 2022 is ready to soar into the next stages of their journeys and make their marks on the world.

Ucluelet Secondary School principal Drew Ryan congratulated students and staff for their resiliency, fortitude and optimism as they navigated through COVID-19 restrictions.

“Our graduates and their families should be proud of their accomplishments over these trying years of COVID. At no other time in our collective history have students had to receive their schooling virtually, be isolated from peers, and follow strict health and safety guidelines all while striving to ensure they meet the necessary graduating requirements,” Ryan said.

“Given the strength of character our students have demonstrated, I have no doubt they will be successful on the next leg of their journey. Whether this journey is starting a new grade in September, post-secondary education, travelling or joining the workforce, I am confident in our amazing West Coast youth…I wish everyone the best as you head off on this next journey.”

USS grads are now making their plans for the next leg of their journey with diverse goals reflecting a dynamic Class of 2022.

Iranian student Pani Ayoubizadeh attended USS for three years and said the supportive community she arrived into helped make the transition into a new school successful.

“It was hard, but because there’s so many friendly and great people here, it made it so much easier for me. It was great,” Ayoubizadeh told the Westerly News. “There’s so many friendly people here and I’m so thankful for my time here…I want to thank everyone from our community and all our teachers and other grads and everyone that supported me. Thank you so much.”

Ayoubizadeh is headed to UBC to get started on a Bachelors of Science degree with the ultimate goal of attending medical school to become a cardiac surgeon.

Keanna Hasz said she’ll miss the West Coast but is ready to explore and is weighing post-secondary options on Vancouver Island as well as Canada’s east coast.

“It’s really hard because obviously my whole life is here. I’ve been here for so long and I’ve made so many connections with great people in the community. It’s exciting though to see what bigger world is out there because it’s a pretty small pond here. Exploring will be exciting, but it’s definitely pretty scary to leave the comfort and support of these two towns,” Hasz said.

“I want to thank USS and the students and staff for being so supportive of everybody this year…I’m going to miss the West Coast so much because Pacific Rim Gymnastics is my world and the community surrounding it and supporting it is everything to me. Love you West Coast.”

Serena Porter plans to continue surfing, but is headed towards warmer waves, with her plan to move to Australia and spend a few years travelling before pursuing post-secondary options.

“I really like warm weather and I want to surf in warm weather. I also really like learning about other cultures and seeing what’s out there,” Porter said. “I love surfing. It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life and it makes me feel really good.”

Porter began her highschool learning online in Grade 9 and the first half of grade 10 before transitioning to in-person learning at USS.

“I was really nervous at first, but I actually adjusted pretty well and I prefer in-person learning,” she said. “It’s a really small school and it’s nice to know everyone. It feels like you have a say in what happens here because it’s so small that you can be a part of something.”

She added she loved her time on the West Coast, but is ready to put her home community in the rearview mirror while she heads towards new adventures.

“I don’t think I’m going to miss the West Coast. I feel like I’ve spent so much time here that I’m pretty done and I’m ready to see what else is out there,” she said. “I love it here, but I’ve spent my time here.”

Orion Lefevre is heading to UVic to study mechanical engineering, but hopes to keep connected to his West Coast roots through weekend trips.

“I really enjoyed the community, I’ve had a lot of support and opportunities through work and school,” he said adding “the people” are what he’ll miss the most of his high school experience. “Being able to know everyone I think is a great opportunity. You get to see all the sides of life and all the different choices that people make.”

USS’ graduation ceremony is scheduled for June 18.

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