In the story of our beginning, we can recall the smell of play-doh; Hot Wheels and Barbies, Beyblades, the time of Dunkaroos and Fruit Roll-up, Pokemon Cards, and Art Attack. And now here we are years later, sitting in our caps and gowns, all grown up.
Of course, growing up is not only measured by height. We grow because we take chances for our future, grasp every present moment, and learn from the mistakes of the past.
We are the valedictorians of the Barriere Secondary School Graduating Class of 2011.
Remember when we thought boys had cooties, when friends were new…dreams were un-shattered, and worries few…when recess was too short, and life was too long…decisions came easily without need to belong.
When storks delivered babies, and passions weren’t so strong…friendships were un-broken, right was right, and wrong was wrong…when bad things didn’t happen, when only skinned knees brought tears…and the night light in its socket quieted all our fears…when farewell meant just for summer, and real friends didn’t part…the fun went on forever, never leaving a broken heart.
We sit before you know as young adults but in our hearts, we are still the children you all remember, just with more style, more patience and after thirteen years of schooling, I should hope, at least a little more knowledge. However the children we were are still hidden within and I can say quite truthfully that there is at least one among these graduates who is still in love with all Disney movies, I know many of us still would prefer chocolate milk over any other beverage offered, and I’m sure there are some of us who secretly believe in Santa! How else do all those presents get under the tree every year?
As a graduating class, we have played, studied, succeeded and failed together. And in the words of Dr. Suess, “I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song. Seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.”
We have put on our caps and gowns and done everything required of us to get to this point in our lives. And now, this day has finally come, and we stand here with all the friends we have made over the years…we look out at our families and deep down, know that this is a once in a lifetime moment. The administration will call our names, our tassels will be turned, and we will receive certificates that says “Congratulations”.
Now we begin to round the bend when we have to say good bye…to our school, our town, and our friends. We know that we can come back to visit, but there will be strangers in our halls and it just won’t be the same. It’s different. We are different. But it’s not the end. In fact, our new chapter is just beginning. So tonight we celebrate the transition; a bridge between our last twelve years of accomplishments into the bright future ahead of each and every one of us.
Time is a curious thing. So many people feel that life ends to soon when in reality, we sometimes wait too long to begin living it. Life doesn’t start now. We’ve been living it all along. Graduation simply marks the beginning of our new chapter.
Our first chapter was about learning our ABC’s, playing grounders, and singing “This Pretty Planet”. There were the memories of Heritage Fair and Young People’s Concerts, as well as Camp MacKenzie and track and field days. The second chapter was our leap into high school, with block rotations, locker combinations, and the 7-foot tall giant by the name of Brady that did nothing but drink coffee from his mug and roam the hallways. We have conquered the English 12 exam,
And now, we are onto our new chapter…the chapter that marks our independence as young people; when we choose what we do with our lives, without parents to cook meals and enforce our curfews.
A great leader once reminded me, “You are only as good as the people around you.” And we can sincerely proclaim that our graduating class has had outstanding people that have played vital roles in our lives.
It is hard for us to thank all those that have been a part of our lives, but there are the few that stand out from the rest. There are the people who have ensured that we arrive to school safely (and usually on time): our bus drivers. Without them, well, we wouldn’t make it to school on a daily basis. They are the silent workers that are never recognized enough for all the work they do.
Then there are friends and extended family, who have kept us sane during the overload of school and life outside of it, who have seen the best and worst of us, and for me, have slowly taught me how to say “No”.
Our parents have witnessed our first steps as babies, taught as morals and valuable life lessons, and now sit here, beaming with pride. We cannot thank you enough for putting up with our transition into teenhood. Without the things you have done for us, we would not be able to proudly stand on this stage.
Our teachers have always been encouraging, open-minded, and incredibly patient. They have provided us with the solid education we will need to continue unlocking our future potential. My teachers have inspired me to pursue a career in education, and pay forward everything they have done for me. Thank you for never giving up on your students, even though we may the be toughest group you’ve had yet. I’m sure you will miss us.
So to all of the people that have surrounded our grad class, we thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
To the grads…Although this is a new chapter in our lives it is by no means the last. It is up to each of us to write our own stories, whether they be comedies, inspirational masterpieces or simple happy stories is up to each individual. I am honoured to have been apart of the first chapters in each of your stories and you have made mine an experience! If I can leave you with one thing to remember it would be this… Don’t be afraid to colour outside the lines.
“What” and “if” are two words as non-threatening as words come. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life. Don’t be the person that constantly asks themselves, “What if…”. Be the kind of person that gets your hands dirty, makes mistakes, and creates your own paths. Change your major degree a dozen times if you must, and stand up after you fall. It has been a pleasure getting to know all of you, having the opportunity to be a part of the successes, challenges, and hilarious mishaps that our grade just happens to be known for. I am confident that each of us will have careers that are just as diverse as the students in our graduating class. I am very honoured to have been one of the witnesses to your lives, and I cannot wait to see the person that each one of us is destined to become.
In the most encouraging words of Dr. Suess, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”
Congratulations, Graduating Class of 2011. We made it!