An adventurous career in the arts brings exciting possibilities to Valedictorian Taylor Ray Luecke

Before coming to the Haliburton School of Art + Design, Taylor Ray Luecke was unsure whether she wanted to commit to school. Now she is Valedictorian at Fleming’s Haliburton Campus convocation, where she is graduating from the Integrated Design diploma program and Digital Image Design certificate program.

“I never thought I would get this far in my education, never mind be the Valedictorian!” said Taylor. “I am so honoured and proud to speak at convocation. I believe in what our school does and I believe in the students here. We are going to change the world with art and design, I guarantee it.”

Taylor applied to Fleming College’s Integrated Design program years after graduating from high school, having spent the time in between travelling and immersing herself in art. Taylor worked on commissions and branding projects, designed menu boards and displays at the Pastry Peddler Café (where she worked); and in 2016 she designed clothing, created zines and jewellery, and helped with window displays for the art collective Lizard Gang Records.

“After being out of high school for some time, I applied to some college programs still unsure if I wanted to commit to school or not,” said Taylor. “I went to the Open House and got whisked away by the students there. They took me into their world and gave me an Open House unlike any other.”

Taylor attended the Spring Open House event at the Haliburton School of Art + Design and was captivated by the stunning campus.

“Once I entered those doors, I knew I was somewhere special. I met the most wonderful people in my visit and got to talk to some students about what they do, and I knew I didn’t have to look any further,” said Taylor. “Integrated Design helped me channel my skills and interests into something unique, something with potential. The experience gave me so many great opportunities with incredible teachers, inspiring students and an endless opportunity to just be myself and create from the soul.”

In the Integrated Design program, Taylor discovered her interest in relational aesthetics and installation work, enjoyed thinking of concepts and the wildest ways to communicate them, and chose the Digital Image Design certificate within her program to explore new ways of making.

During her third semester, Taylor worked on campus as a Studio Assistant, helping with community projects such as embroidering sashes for Rotary Club, making decals and signs for the school, and making posters for the Youth Hub. She also committed herself to the Student Association events, including yoga nights, bowling nights, life drawing, and Halloween in April.

“The atmosphere of the school was always supportive for me, a place where all ideas and walks of life are welcome. I could dance through the halls and people would dance with me,” said Taylor. “I got to live with my friends and enjoy Friday night pool at the Legion and living room dance parties. My favourite part is the people I have met and the friends that I’ve made. My experience wouldn’t be the same without all of the positive influences around me. Though the time together is short, I have made lifelong friends here.”

In her valedictorian speech, Taylor plans to recognize the journey of the artist and the brave direction that being an artist is. “I want to let all the graduates know how powerful they are with their work,” she said. “Our school is something different and the speech should reflect that.”

After convocation, Taylor will spend the summer working at Algonquin Park and plans to move to Australia in the late fall, taking on freelance projects and continuing to learn. She would like to do artist residencies to push her knowledge, as well as apply for design competitions and exhibitions.

“My path is not direct, but it brings me excitement in thinking of its possibilities.”

Valedictorian Emily Stonehouse returns home to Haliburton for her dream career


Emily Stonehouse was at a bit of a crossroads when she first came to the Haliburton School of Art + Design, but now she is graduating from the Digital Image Design program as Valedictorian.

“The school really changed me and the people are all so amazing, it will be awesome to share my experiences and reflect on the past few months with some amazing and talented grads,” said Emily, who will be delivering her speech at the convocation ceremony on Friday, May 26. “I hope they realize how unique and talented they all are, and that their contribution to the arts world (and the real world) is so important.”

Emily returned to her hometown of Haliburton to regroup and figure out her next steps in life. She had previously attended the University of Ottawa, earning her Honours Bachelor of Arts with a Specialization in Communications; worked and travelled; and did academic upgrading, with a focus on Indigenous Women’s Studies, at Memorial University in Newfoundland.

“I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I was looking for the opportunity to express my creativity, so I found out about this program and it looked like a perfect combination between creativity and application,” said Emily.

The small class sizes meant more one-on-one attention and skill development. “The focus in my program was primarily digital. We spent a lot of time learning about Photoshop, which I look back on now and remember being terrified to learn about, but I am beyond comfortable with the program now,” said Emily. “We also dabbled in photography, videography, narratives, and traditional arts.”

She recommends this program to others, describing it as “very current and allows you to keep up in this ever-changing technological world.”

Emily also appreciates the supportive, inclusive, and creative campus community at the Haliburton School of Art + Design. Her most memorable experience was facing her fear and participating in an open mic, playing guitar and singing a song she wrote. “I was terrified but the school environment is so supportive, it was exactly what I needed to finally do it,” she said.

After completing her program at Fleming’s Haliburton Campus, Emily was hired as the new Business Manager/Experience Facilitator at Yours Outdoors, a local tourism organization.

“I get to take the skills I learned about the digital world and start to use them to develop a broader clientele,” said Emily, who also facilitates local experiences with artists and adventurers. “I spend my days in arts studios or climbing trees, or hiking or in a canoe—it’s a dream!”

In her spare time, Emily writes for the local newspaper, adding, “I am just trying to become as involved in the community as possible, and combine everything I’ve learned and loved into a lifestyle and career.”