In the 2014 story in The Squamish Chief, Jocelyn Harry is featured with classmates Gracie Zohner and Marjorie Joseph, then all Grade 5 Stawamus Elementary school students.
They were in the paper for creating a butterfly garden at Hilltop House. The kindergarten class was growing caterpillars to add to it.
In the photo with the story, Harry is smiling and plunging her shovel into the rich soil with determination.
That determination and joy remain in her voice, and she is still focused on helping — though there is less giggling now. After all, she is graduating this year.
Harry started school at what was then called Stawamus Elementary [now Cultural Journeys and Learning Expeditions], transferred to Don Ross Middle School in Grade 7, and finished up at Howe Sound.
As she finishes her final weeks of school, The Squamish Chief caught up with Harry to chat about her memories, what she is looking forward to and advice for her schoolmates coming up behind her.
What follows is an edited version of that conversation.
Q: Looking back on your years of school in Squamish, what was your favourite year?
A: Probably this year, honestly. Because we are graduating and making that big step and transition, and because of my friends and the grad events — it has just been a really fun year.
Q: Tell me a bit more about your memories with your friends. It must have been a bit tricky to socialize with the pandemic?
A: With graduating, it has been hard to plan grad events, but, as a grad class, we have been doing the best we can and keeping COVID-19 guidelines in place. I really enjoyed it when we did the grad kidnapping with the boys. We put them in costumes and made them hold signs on the side of the highway — that was fun.
Grad camping is fun too. We go out to the Squamish Valley and just camp. We have made one trip so far, and another is coming up.
Q: All of us have some tough times in school, so what was that for you?
A: Making the transition from elementary school to Don Ross because when I was in elementary school, it was pretty small. Going from 73 kids to a lot of students at Don Ross, it was shocking how many kids were in Squamish! Also, because I had been in a Grade 4/6 split previously, going from that to doing Grade 7 work was very tough. Other than that, school has been pretty good.
Q: What about the pandemic more generally? So many adults are concerned with how it has been for youth and how you are going to be as you head out into the world.
A: At the end of Grade 11, when we went online, it was weird because the teachers were still trying to adjust to teaching in a different way. For some kids, it did work; for some kids it didn't. Going into Grade 12, we went from the semester system, to the quarter system. So, we had two classes for a quarter of the year. I liked that better than the semester system because you get your classes all done. But the social aspect has been harder. And now, with it getting hotter, the classrooms are hot when wearing masks.
Q: What are you planning for next year?
A: I am taking half a year off and then attending Vancouver Island University starting in January. I am going to be pursuing my Bachelor of Science and I am thinking of majoring in either chemistry or biology — I am not too sure yet. I am aiming to go to med school. That is the top goal right now, but if I decide to do something else, that is OK.
It has always been a nurse or a doctor that I want to be — something in the medical field.
Q: What draws you to that career?
A: I like hands-on helping people as much as I can. All the nurses I have talked to said they really loved their job, and they get to interact with so many people and help so many. So, that is inspiring.
It is also one of those jobs that are always different — never repetitive — so that is something I am looking forward to.
Q: What is your advice for the students coming up after you?
A: Just to focus on your studies and work as hard as you can, while having fun at the same time. Try to find that balance between having fun and doing your schoolwork.
Q: We can't really sign off from this without talking about the recent traumatic discovery of the children in the graves in Kamloops. How does that impact you?
A: It is impacting me in different ways. For me, it still hasn't totally hit me. I am still trying to process everything and figure out what I can do to help other people. With Indigenous Leadership, I am trying to see if we can organize a community event to help others heal. Trying to do my best to help others is probably where I am at right now.