Posted by Nick Aroutzidis on May 21, 2018
May 24, 2018: Bryn Styles, “Rotary International Foundation, Mimi Price will introduce, and Pat Feryn will thank our speakers.

Head Table:  Our President Linda Bathe, invites Mimi Price, Ron McKay, Lynn McKone, Bruce McLaren, Clark Mitchell and Steve Monteith, to join her at the head table.
Central band serenading before the program
Head Table
This Week:   Rotary Honour Student Banquet, Stratford Rotary Complex
Guest Speaker John Kastner.
President, Linda Bathe, welcomed Rotarians and senior honour students of St. Michael Catholic Secondary School, Northwestern Secondary School and Stratford Central Secondary School to the 59th Anniversary Honour Student Banquet in memory of Rotarian and local educator John “Jack” A. Hamilton. Joining her at the Head table were principal Emma Watts and Paul Finkelstein from Northwestern; Dan Peters, principal of St. Michaels, and Rob Simmons, vice-principal of Central.
Sue Wakelin provided students with a brief introduction to Rotary, from its founding by Paul Harris and friends in 1905, to its current 1.2 million members in 54,000 clubs worldwide. Highlighting Rotary’s service role internationally, she made the polio eradication project particularly relevant by relating her family’s personal experience with the disease and the remarkable progress made during her lifetime.  Our club’s contributions globally and locally over its 90 years in this community were also outlined as she encouraged those present to make service to their communities a part of their future life plan.
Dave Scott echoed this sentiment in his toast to Honour Students, their teachers and their schools.  In response, Jesse Russell of Northwestern, challenged fellow students to be the community leaders of today.
Student representatives, Anna Gras, St Michael; Jesse Russell, Northwestern, and Maddie Van Osch, Central, reviewed their respective schools’ achievements in the past year and thanked faculty for their assistance and encouragement.
Steve Rae introduced his colleague and the evening’s guest speaker, John Kastner, using three words to describe what John is NOT – Bashful (He will ask anything of anybody to achieve a worthwhile purpose.)  - Boastful (One of the most unpretentious people you are likely to meet.) – Tall.  A 33-year veteran of journalism and now manager of the Stratford Perth Museum, John gives tirelessly of his time to the sports communities across Ontario and the local community. (He was the major driver behind fund raising for the Rotary Complex where we meet tonight).
John thanked Rotary for tonight’s invitation, noting that though he is a graduate of Central, it is his first attendance at honour student banquet.  He left Central High School in 1976, co-incidentally the same year as principal Hamilton, about whom he suggested he had a few stories. When he entered in Grade 9 his brother Peter, 10 years older, warned him that ‘Jack’ was gruff on the outside and just as tough on the inside. Peter, whose own graduation coincided with the opening of Northwestern, regretted that he had not had the opportunity to attend its innovative technologically focussed program.  John’s also quite familiar with St. Mike’s where his own kids were students.
A self-described average (read poor) student, his high school recommendation to Laurier indicated that he was probably ‘smarter than he looks’.  WLU must have agreed because they accepted him and he did OK, finishing on the Dean’s List.  So, what advice can an average student give to classic honour students?  He knows that a lot of worry, anxiety and pressure goes along with being a good student. Drawing from Hockey Canada’s current movement to convince young people to diversify, do more than hockey and broaden their experience so they gain the soft skills needed for life; he encouraged the audience to embrace and enjoy their post secondary experience.  Get involved in a variety of activities. Relax. A lot is going to happen in your life. Life has a lot of curves and that’s good.  Nevertheless, preparation and education are important.  No amount of planning ensures success, but failure to make a plan almost certainly has the opposite effect. 
However, recognize that plans get changed. Referring to his own Collegian yearbook, it’s clear that most of his peers are not doing today what they planned at the end of high school (with the possible exception of the one who vowed not to read another T.S. Eliot poem).  One of John’s sons planned to teach, completed undergraduate and Master’s degrees, and a M.Ed., then went back to managing a restaurant, a job he does well and enjoys. Another son declined an HVAC apprenticeship to become a pro UFC competitor. After two years he quit, took a factory job on night shift, and is now apprenticing as a plumber/gas fitter.  
John himself thought he would come back to Stratford as a teacher at Central. While at WLU he worked for a summer at the Stratford Beacon Herald, then, on graduation, accepted a job as their sports writer to make some cash before attending teachers college. It’s now thirty plus years later.  He was offered other writing jobs  - with Hockey News and Globe and Mail Sports – but decided big city life was not for him. Though he would not have anticipated it when he finished high school, he was eventually Managing Editor of the Beacon Herald, retiring when it was downsized after acquisition by Quebecor Media.  Though he didn’t know what would come next he was not worried, because he recognized that life is full of curves, fences, barriers and broken doors. For the first time in 35 years he needed to produce a resume and was glad that he had his university education, credibility and other life experiences to draw on. Ironically, what got him his current job as General Manager of the Stratford Perth Museum were his ‘soft skills’ – experience as a fundraiser and involvement in the local community. It’s important to recognize that the projects you are involved with outside of formal education and your job, provide skills and an education that make you a good job candidate and a great person.  Therefore, embrace the ‘other things.’  At University you will encounter thousands of people your age, many with the same passions and interests. Savour the experience. Take your education seriously but relax and enjoy.  Make a difference.  Plan, but don’t plan to have a career –plan to have a life.
Elizabeth Gaffney, a former high school colleague, thanked John for sharing his interesting life journey with us. One makes plans, then life happens, and it’s been fun to watch him re-invent himself.  In his current role he has made the museum a vital part of the community. We are lucky to have him in our community and here tonight.
In closing, President Bathe wished the students the best of luck going forward.
Entertainment prior to the formalities of the evening was provided by the excellent Stratford Central Jazz Band.
Scribe: Pat Shewen
Seated Hon Students and Rotarians
Excellent meal catered by L&M
Make-ups: No report
The Rotary Club of Stratford is on the move! Please note the following meeting dates, locations, and details:
  • Thursday, May 24 - noon hour meeting at Festival Motor Inn (ANAF hall is reserved for a wedding).
  • Thursday, May 31 - back to the ANAF hall for a noon hour meeting
May’s Attendance Committee:  Gezaghn Wordofa (I/C), Gord Steed, Charlene Gordon, Steve Weed, Ed Dujlovic, Kevin Nonomura, Mimi Price, Katherine Hahn, Colin Brisbois.