Annual Walk with Excellence to celebrate achievements of local high-school graduates

2016 Walk with Excellence

Now in its 11th year, the Walk with Excellence is an annual event that celebrates the achievements of graduating students from high schools in Toronto’s Jane and Finch community. Signifying the beginning of their journey to post-secondary education, the event – taking place this year on Thursday, June 6 – will see over 500 graduating students walk from five local high schools onto York University’s Keele Campus.

The students’ supportive teachers and administrators will be cheering them on along the way, and all York University community members are invited join in welcoming the students onto the Keele Campus in true York U style.

“The Walk with Excellence signals new beginnings and a new season,” said Itah Sadu, founder of the Walk with Excellence and a York University honorary degree recipient. “Walking with the graduating students in this annual urban rite of passage is pure joy.”

Organized by a coalition of community partners – including the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre, local school principals and high-school leaders, the Blackhurst Cultural Centre and A Different Booklist – the Walk with Excellence will feature brief musical performances from each participating high school, remarks from community leaders and Toronto poet laureate Lillian Allen reading a poem she wrote specifically for the event. Organizers look forward to presenting several bursaries this year, generously funded by CUPE Local 4400/Toronto Education Workers, Blackhurst Cultural Centre and York University.

“We are proud to stand alongside our students and school board partners in celebrating the hard work and dedication that define the Jane and Finch community’s collective journey toward excellence,” said Byron Gray, manager of the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre. “Together, we are fostering a brighter future for all.”

All York University community members are invited to take part in the event by cheering for students as they enter the Keele Campus and witnessing the presentation of scholarships and remarks. The students are expected to arrive in front of Vari Hall at approximately 11:30 a.m.

Those who cannot attend or would like to further support the cause can consider contributing to Vice-Provost Academic Marcia Annisette’s Walk with Excellence campaign for 2025, which will offer bursaries to five future York U students – one from each of the five participating high schools.

“This event exemplifies the power of community, resilience and academic achievement,” said Annisette. “It is our vision that a newly initiated campaign will engage all of York University in funding an ongoing Walk with Excellence Bursary.”