Hunting Hills High School in Red Deer is celebrating this year’s valedictorian, Raahim Aqueel.
For Aqueel, seizing every opportunity possible in his high school career has not only been a memorable journey, but has paid off in a big way. He has been named this year’s Valedictorian at Hunting Hills High School.
Raahim, originally from Saudi Arabia, said the news is still sinking in.
“If I had one word to describe it, it’s really a feeling of euphoria. Getting the acknowledgement and recognition for the hard work and dedication that I’ve had is gratifying,” he said, adding that he moved to Canada at the age of nine. “In a sense being a Valedictorian is a way to say thank you - a way of appreciating the sacrifices that my parents made to move to Canada for education and better opportunities.”
After his family’s move, Raahim quickly thrived in his new surroundings. “I always loved soccer as a kid and during recesses at school all we would do was play soccer. I built friendships over soccer and it became part of my identity and it gave me the confidence to be who I am today.”
Darwin Roscoe, Principal at Hunting Hills High Schools said he is extremely proud of Raahim’s achievements.
“I continue to be amazed at the quality of students who attend HHHS,” said Darwin Roscoe, Principal at Hunting Hills High School. Raahim had an average over 98%, which is an outstanding accomplishment. There are few things more satisfying than watching our youth prepare to make the world a better place. Congratulations for this amazing achievement.”
As Raahim reflects on his high school career, he has many fond memories.
“Most of the highlights from my high school years are conversations I’ve had with classmates, the friendships that I have built, hanging out after school - it’s the little things that have had the greatest impact and what has helped shape me into the person that I am today,” he said.
As part of being named Valedictorian, Raahim will have the opportunity to address his classmates at their graduation ceremonies. It’s an opportunity he’s excited to seize.
“I want to touch on how important opportunities are and how to capitalize on those,” he said. “I also want to talk about fear because as you enter high school as a freshman and a sophomore, you are paralyzed with fear - you are scared of what others think of you. You’re scared of rejection, you’re scared of not making the team. I want to talk about how to face those fears and how to change them into life changing moments, how to change them into lessons and how to grow from them.”
Looking ahead, Raahim will attend the University of Alberta in the fall to pursue education in nutrition and food science with the ultimate goal of becoming a dietician. “Physical exercise, whether that be sports, cardiovascular training, or weightlifting, has always been a hobby of mine, and a desired form of stress relief. But, something I’ve struggled with in the past is nutrition, and this would hinder my progress,” he said. “Through education, I’ve been able to overcome that roadblock, and I strongly believe that my dedication to physical wellness has played a significant role in my success in other aspects of life. With a degree in Nutrition and Food Science with Specialization in Dietetics, I hope to guide those in need toward a healthier lifestyle and help them accomplish their goals.”
As he gets ready to wrap up his time in grade school, Raahim has lasting words for fellow students entering Grade 9 and journeying through their high school years.
“My advice to other students is to take risks - that is the only way you are going to grow and learn about yourself. If you’re truly passionate about something, pursue it. Don’t let others stop you from doing that,” he said. “And secondly, enjoy the journey. Set goals, work hard, but don’t forget to have fun and do the things that make you happy.”
Hunting Hills High School will hold their graduation ceremonies on May 13 at Westerner Park.