It’s a surprise one Coaldale teenager won’t soon forget.

17 year old Owen Gallagher was mowing the lawn at his grandmother’s house on Friday when a fire truck, sirens blazing, and a handful of Kate Andrews High School staff in their vehicles pulled up to the house.

Over a megaphone, his principal, Daniel Grimes, announced Gallagher had been named the Class of 2020 Valedictorian.

“I just finished my calculus course two days ago, so I’m finally just getting a chance to relax a little; less school work to do,” he said, adding he’d never even finished top three in his grade until last year.

With traditional graduation ceremonies cancelled due to COVID-19, Gallagher’s speech will be recorded and downloaded onto a flash drive along with messages from staff to the graduating class.

Grads will head to the KAHS gym in small groups over a staggered schedule on June 19, to pick up a gift bag with the flash drive, their diploma, pose for photos, and take home a pre-ordered catered meal.

Gallagher has plans to attend the Engineering program at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan Campus in September if student residence is open by then.