Fraser MacKinnon was this year’s valedictorian for the Stanley Humphries graduating class. Below is his valedictory address.
Wow, it’s hard to believe that after so many years have gone by … people still start valedictorian speeches with this line. Personally, I wanted to start this speech out with a quote, but as our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald once said, “The problem with finding quotes on the Internet is that you can never tell if they are genuine.”
In all seriousness though, I would like to welcome everyone that is sitting here today; parents, teachers, family, friends and especially my crew in blue up front whom I represent: the students. I literally wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for all of you.
Back in the fall of ’98, this mass of students seated before of me, although only five years old at the time, was faced with some exciting news: school was starting. Gone would be the days of frolicking in the mud and spending entire days in the nude, sometimes consecutively I might add, but in return we would be rewarded with new friends, fantastic experiences, and the coveted status of being a “big kid.”
Yet as we stood at the end of our driveways on the first day of school, outfitted in the latest hot wheels and/or Barbie patterned fashions of the time, with our backpacks fully loaded with half our body weight in fuzzy pencils, crayons, coloured erasers and enough duotangs and dividers to get us all well past the fifth grade, we were completely oblivious to what lay ahead of us.
Elementary school taught us many things: reading, writing, basic math and about 10 to 20 different versions of tag. It’s hard to say where the most important lessons were learned, in the classroom or on the playground. In class we learned addition, subtraction, spelling, punctuation; all sorts of things that we were told by our teachers that we would always need later in life. And yes, they were right; they have proved to be quite useful. After all, we are about to graduate.
But there was much more gained by us students than what was preached by our teachers. Outside of class is where our life lessons were learnt. Being around our peers every day is what made us begin to succeed. With this group of kids right here is where we learnt how to live. It’s where we built friendships that we still have today and its where we found “love” that was gone and out of our minds by the end of the week.
Our toys, our music, our fascinations; these were all brought to us by the kids we grew up with. Without going to school, it would have been impossible for us to be the people that we’ve turned out to be, or anything near that. We have created each other and ourselves, in turn creating what is known as “our generation.” And as terribly cliché and maybe as scary as it sounds, our generation is the future.
Now in the spring of 2011, the same group of kids I mentioned earlier, just fast forwarded 13 years, sits before me awaiting another long anticipated milestone in our lives on which we arrive today: graduation. We’ve spent the last five years here at Stanley Humphries essentially waiting for them to finally come to an end.
From the first time we were thrust into the cross halls in grade eight, through the general boredom of grade nine, to the way over-hyped (and “hardest”) Grade 10, during every single chapter of The Catcher in the Rye in Grade 11, and right up to our final sunny days here in Grade 12 we have been wishing for it all to be over. Well you guys, it finally is.
And, contrary to popular belief, things aren’t going to get any easier. Where else are you going to go where you’re forced to hang out with your best friends all day? Where else can you bring a pack of dunkaroos, some lunchables, and a kool-aid jammer to wash it all down and still be the envy of everyone at the lunch table? And name one other place in the entire world where you can run down the halls, screaming at the top of your lungs: “IT’S FRIDAY LAST BLOCK BEFORE SPRING BREAK!” without getting arrested. Last I checked, nowhere.
Sadly though, it is time to move on. We’re coming up on ‘Friday last block before the rest of our lives’ and the seconds are ticking down until the bell rings. We must say goodbye to our tactfully painted hallways and our crammed lockers that we have all come to know and love, and welcome what the next steps we take have to offer us, whatever or wherever they may be.
As soon as our report cards are handed to us on the last day of school we will be let loose on our unsuspecting world, armed only with a diploma and a couple life lessons handed down from Mr. McKay. Other than that we will be walking blind into our futures, fending for ourselves and learning from the mistakes that we will all make as we go along.
If we ask ourselves what we plan to do with our lives, can anyone fairly say that they’ve got it all figured out? I know I can’t, and I’m glad of that. Sure, the majority of us have some sort of plan laid down with what we want to do and where we want to go, but its only once you’ve actually completed something that you know for sure you’ll achieve it.
Everything around us keeps changing at such a rapid pace; it’s impossible to know how anything will turn out. The best thing we can do is to point ourselves in the direction we want to go and in the words of Dean Murdoch “Just give’r”. It won’t be easy that’s for sure, but I do know that we can do it.
I know that we can do it because amid all the craziness around us, there are certain things that we can always count on: each other. Growing up as small town boys and girls would have seemed like we were living in a lonely world if it weren’t for our friends that have been with us every step of the way. And as we journey on into futures like shadows searching in the night, I can’t tell you which of us will win; who, sadly, will lose; and who will be the unfortunate few who were just born to sing the blues. But I can tell you one thing, and I can tell you one thing for sure: we will never stop believing. We will never stop believing in ourselves and most of all we will never stop believing in each other. Every single student in this class has the potential to do something amazing with their lives, and I know we will. We have what it takes to make a difference, so lets go out and do it. I believe we can.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you: the Graduating Class of 2011!