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CCI valedictorian considers following in teacher’s footsteps

People of Collingwood: Justin Rowbotham, 2023 valedictorian for Collingwood Collegiate Institute
Justin Rowbotham was named 2023 valedictorian for Collingwood Collegiate Institute.

Justin Rowbotham credits his sunny outlook on life to his positive high school experiences at Collingwood Collegiate Institute.

For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood we spoke with Rowbotham, 18, the valedictorian for Collingwood Collegiate Institute's (CCI) graduating class of 2023.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up in Creemore. I came to Collingwood for high school, but I went to Nottawasaga Public School for elementary.

I preferred to go to Collingwood rather than Stayner (Collegiate Institute).

Q: Why?

A: With the classes (in Stayner), they only offer classes some years and not others. It’s dependent on demand. Sometimes there’s not a big demand for certain sciences.

I was interested in different science and mathematics courses.

Q: During high school, were you part of any clubs or special interest groups?

A: I’m the acting president of student council. I was vice president, but the president was away this semester so I stepped in to fill that role.

It’s busy sometimes, but it’s also a lot of fun.

We ran meetings, and it’s about directing people and delegating. To be honest, I’m not the best delegator. Sometimes I take on a bit too much, I think.

We put on a talent show, coffee houses and a trivia tournament. We did a Fun in the Sun event last week.

Q: Your cohort has had a unique school experience because of the pandemic. Now that you’re graduating, do you feel that unique experience has helped, or hindered you?

A: COVID did hinder our social exposure for pretty much half of our high-school experience. Despite that, it has not defined us. Especially in these past two years, I think our cohort has done a fantastic job putting on events and connecting as a community.

Maybe it won’t make as much of a difference as you’d think. I think we’ve played a lot of catch-up in the past two years.

Personally, it feels like a bad dream. I don’t really think about it too much anymore. It’s water under the bridge.

Q: You were named CCI’s valedictorian this year. How did you feel when you heard?

A: I was excited, but I also think I was the best candidate for the role.

Hopefully, I can give something back to everyone.

Q: What did you say in your speech?

A: It was all about being grateful and celebrating graduation.

Thanking faculty... including the vice principals and principal, family and friends.

Most of all, it’s about celebrating our individual accomplishments as students and the community we form together.

I thanked everyone for the wonderful experience they’ve given me and each other. I encouraged everyone to be optimistic.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’m going to Western University for computer science.

I’m very excited. I know some other people going there but I’m also excited to meet new people.

Q: What do you want to be?

A: A programmer would be cool.

I don’t really know.

To be honest, I’ve also wanted to be a teacher.

I’ve had some awesome teachers, like Mr. Reive. He’s the best. It’s people like him that make me want to be a teacher.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like people in Collingwood to know about you?

A: I’m only 18, so I’m not the wisest, but I see my experience in high school and I’ve had a blast every step of the way.

I think CCI has given me the most wonderful experience. That’s my main takeaway from high school and I think that will lend me well into the future.

At the end of the day, I’m not too concerned with success. What’s meaningful in life is the connections you make with people. CCI has given me a positive outlook and I’m looking forward to seeing where my life takes me.

For our feature People of Collingwood, we speak with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature runs on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email [email protected].

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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