By Tim Kalinowski on June 23, 2017.
Herald School held a special graduation ceremony for one special graduate Thursday. Madison Hill, better known as Madi, came to Herald four years ago, and is the only member of the graduating class this year.
Hill, who has Down Syndrome, entered the school gymnasium shaking hands and handing out hugs to everyone in reach. After collecting a basket of paper flowers from guests in attendance, Hill took her seat on stage, where she was the subject of several tributes.
A dance number was performed in her honour by school mates, a video montage of some special moments from her time at Herald was shown, and she was serenaded beautifully by her sister Katie, bringing tears to the eyes of many in attendance.
It was up to her longtime teacher Naomi Dawson to present the diploma and summarize what the graduation of Hill meant to the school community.
“Madi, or Sunshine as we affectionately call her, has brightened our days with her infectious laugh and zest for life … I am sad to see her go, and I will truly miss her. However, the time has come. Go out into the world, Madi. Make your mark. And continue to share your beautiful smile and infectious laugh with everyone,” she said.
Principal Andrew McFetridge also wished Hill well as she leaves school to enter the big, wide world out there.
“We have seen you grow, Madi, so much during your time here at Herald,” he said. “Developing skills, confidence and building strong relationships with those around you. You have unique gifts that make you a truly one-of-a-kind person.”
And to the audience, McFetridge said Hill’s love of school was evident to everyone who knew her.
“Madi loves school. So much so, she will take a sitting protest sometimes at the end of the day. It is all we can do to dig deep into our bag of tricks to get her onto that school bus,” he recalled fondly with a laugh.
Hill’s family was also in attendance for the graduation ceremony, and said afterward they could not thank Herald School enough for all it had done to help their daughter grow and develop these past four years.
“Herald has been fantastic from day one,” said her father Hugh. “They have helped us grow and understand who Madi is and where she is wanting to go in the future.”
They were also overcome by the outpouring of affection for their daughter at the ceremony itself, he said.
“To see all this for one graduate is amazing. The whole school is here, they are having a dance afterward, and it’s just fantastic.”