On November 23, 2013 Selkirk College held its annual Gala at Nelson’s Mary Hall on the Tenth Street Campus. The sold-out evening was a showcase of student talent from a number of different programs including Adult Special Education, the Contemporary Music & Technology Program, Professional Cooking, Resort & Hotel Management and the Aviation Program.
ASE Students Deliver
The Adult Special Education program was charged with assembling the evening’s auction. Over the course of two months prior to the big evening, the students in the programs on the Nelson, Castlegar and Trail campuses put together more than 180 silent auction items. Thousands were raised to be used for enhanced programming for ASE.
One of the most memorable points of the evening was when three students of the Nelson ASE program got up for speeches in front of the 200-plus guests. Their personal and touching stories brought the Mary Hall banquet room to its feet in a goosebump-raising moment.
Here is the transcript from the speeches delivered by Claire Janz, Summer Clement and Cody Archambeault.
Hello and welcome everyone to this special evening. My name is Claire and these are my classmates Cody and Summer. We are honoured to host tonight’s Silent Auction at this Selkirk College Gala 2013.
Claire Janz delivers her speech.
At this time we would like to thank the many individuals and businesses who donated auction items. We are amazed at how generous everyone has been. We also thank our instructors for supporting us as well as our families and friends and others at the college who helped. We couldn’t have done this by ourselves. And, we have a special thank you for you, our guests, for coming to this amazing event.
You know, those of us with disabilities really aren’t different from everyone else. We have dreams and goals. We love life and our friends and our families and partners. We need challenges and things to look forward to. We dream of romance, just as much as you do! Most of us have jobs and feel good about making our own money.
Let me share a little bit of my story with you. I grew up in Nelson and graduated from LV Rogers. I live with my parents and brother. My older sister is going to Oxford in England. I have Down’s Syndrome. After high school, I went to the special education program in Trail. I studied cooking and serving food and received my Food Service Worker certificate last spring. Now I am in the Nelson special ed program part-time, and I deliver papers part-time. I love walking, music, performing, my family and my friends. I am happy to be a Selkirk College student and I am happy that you have this chance to hear about our program.
Adult Special Education is not new to Selkirk College. It has been here since 1980. Adult Special Education is for adults with diverse abilities and barriers to learning. Adults of all ages come to our programs in Castlegar, Grand Forks, Nelson, and Trail. This amazing program helps me and others to achieve our goals and dreams. My goal is to have my own business one day.
Summer Clement during her turn at the microphone.
The word “education” means to open doors. Coming to the College opens doors for us. Imagine believing you can’t, only to find out that you can – that is what happens in our program, every day.
Now, I’ll tell you a bit about myself… I grew up in Ymir and moved to Montreal after graduating. I have always had a lot of health challenges. I had epilepsy when I was younger, and I got very sick with diabetes in Montreal. After that, I had a lot of seizures and kept forgetting things I had already learned. I don’t have epilepsy anymore, but I am still afraid that I’ll forget - it’s getting better; I do brain exercises every day.
I know I’m smart, and I can do anything I want, but there are still challenges getting where I want to go. The support I get in the ASE program, like extra help with reading and math, is helping.
More important are the friendships I’ve made and the confidence I’ve gained. Before, I didn’t have good friendships, and I struggled with loneliness and depression.
Here, I have learned to build strong relationships. I know who and how to trust. I can open up more to people. I am stronger and the depression is gone.
Here, I have gained confidence in my abilities. I was always good at crafts, like crocheting. Our instructor brought in a jewelry maker, and we learned how to wrap stones and make jewelry. We started a jewelry business, called “Peace on Earth Jewelry”—it is an applied math project. We make and sell the jewelry, as well as run the business. We’ve learned about inventory, designing, record keeping, as well as customer service. Through this, I have gotten way more creative. I am so thankful for the support of family, friends, and my two amazing instructors at Selkirk College.
There are four main reasons that we are hosting the Gala silent auction:
- We want to support Selkirk College: our class is passionate about Selkirk because it gives us a place to grow.
- We want to support students: we want to raise funds for a scholarship to help ASE students move on to other college programs, and we want to host a conference for adults with disabilities.
- We want to learn: Gala 2013 has been the main focus for our fall learning. We have been planning, organizing, writing letters, reaching out to the community, presenting, and working well together.
- We want to create more inclusive communities: by going out to our communities, we have learned more about each other and—together—created a better place for us all.
Cody Archambeault had his speech written down, but quickly put it in his pocket and spoke without a script.
Now I’ll tell you my story…
Until I was 13, life was pretty normal. Then, I had AVM... I had brain surgery to remove the AVM. Many challenges followed: I became depressed. I couldn’t talk. I was paralyzed on one side of my body and blind in one eye. I couldn’t walk. I relied on others a lot, but I was recovering.
As if this wasn’t enough, at 15, I was diagnosed with bone cancer. I had nine months of chemo, and the doctors said I would be fine. The cancer was stronger than we thought, and I lost one leg. Communicating was still difficult. Transportation was an issue. And, being the only kid in school in a wheelchair with a big scar on my head and a missing leg made it hard to fit in. I continued on to graduate in 2011. I did what I had to do to get it done, but I didn’t enjoy it.
I came here to the Nelson special ed program right after high school. Here, I feel accepted, equal. I have friends I trust. Coming to College has made me feel more positive, more alive. I am less shy, more outgoing, and I feel comfortable being around people. I am not sure what the future holds; thinking about the future kind of stresses me out. I am sure that right now, I feel good about myself. And I thank this program for helping.
We hope our stories help you to understand us as people, and to see our program as an important part of Selkirk College. We want to be part of our community, this community. We want to contribute, to be responsible, to have jobs, friends, and even to pay taxes!
We worked hard with the other students from Castlegar, Trail, and Grand Forks for this Gala. We thank you for giving us the chance to aim high, dream big, and work hard.
Enjoy the evening!