Lindsay Kimmett attended Cochrane schools from kindergarten through Grade 12 and was the Valedictorian of the Cochrane High School graduating class of 1999. She continued her academic journey by earning a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with Distinction from the University of Calgary. Tragically she was taken from us as a passenger in a single vehicle rollover incident in February of 2008. At the time of her passing, she was completing her second of three years as a medical student at the University of Calgary. She was passionate about her studies and was working towards her goal of becoming an Emergency Physician. In her memory, the Kimmett family wishes to recognize and congratulate the Valedictorian each year by awarding them the Lindsay Kimmett Memorial Foundation Valedictorian Scholarship.
Intention: To recognize a Cochrane High School, Bow Valley High School, and St. Timothy High School student who through their pursuit of excellence was chosen the Valedictorian of their graduating class.
Amount: $1000.00 to be applied towards tuition at a post secondary institution.
Selection: The selection of this outstanding student will be completed by Cochrane High School, Bow Valley High School, and St. Timothy High School staff as per their protocol for choosing the annual Valedictorian.
We hope that this scholarship will assist the winner to discover and pursue their passion just as Lindsay was doing.
Dana Jackson – 2014 – St. Timothy’s
Family, Friends, Parents, teachers, administrators and Graduates of 2014. Welcome.
I’d like to start with a quote taken from the pages of a famous children’s author. For it was Dr. Seuss who wrote “Your off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting so get on your way” Today is your day, a day that marks a great journey from childhood into adulthood. Today is our day to begin a new chapter in our lives, and it is also a day to reflect upon the past 12 years.
First I ask you to take a moment and reflect. Even if just for a moment, take this time to look back to your first day at St. Timothy. Think about what you wore, who was the first person that said hi to you, which teachers you had? Think about who you were that first day you walked through the doors. What activities did you seek out? Did you let yourself get lost in the world of art or did you rise up to the power of sport? Maybe you aced academics, or became engaged in CTS, or perhaps you kept life simple and were someone’s best friend. Whatever path you chose to walk down St. Tim’s halls, think about how this course changed you. Moved you, made you happy, made you cry and brought you to this moment here and now.
Parents, Grandparents, Family friends and teachers, I ask you to reflect on the remarkable students in your life. How you got to watch this transformation from child to young adult, and how you impacted their transformation, as well as how they changed you.
I believe that is why St. Tims is like a mirror. It reflects the image we are forced to see everyday, whether we want to or not. It reflects our last minute studying in our exams, our homework efforts are shown in our assignment marks. But the mirror reveals more than that. This 12-year journey beginning in grade 1 has given us far more to reflect on. Its forced us too look at ourselves, and discover who we truly are. Revealing both our perfections and our flaws. Both our strengths and weaknesses. Everyday we were given a new challenge, and everyday that great mirror within our minds reflected back what that challenge taught us. Revealing everything we did and didn’t do.
Within our time spent wandering the St Tim’s halls, we had the privilege of growing within our catholic faith. Blessed are we to be able to express our views and feelings freely and openly within the catholic faith and to learn not to be ashamed of who we are nor what we believe in. Growing within the Catholic District allowed a greater education of God and the Bible, which in turn opened our eyes and our hearts to the beauty of having Faith and how this belief can pull you through anything. During our adolescent years, we may have relied on faith to keep us going, even when the challenge seemed to difficult to conquer on our own. And if we felt as though we didn’t need God then, we were given the steps to take in order to reach him if we ever feel we can’t do it all on our own. Psalm 105:4 tells to “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” In other words, no matter which road we take, to look to God for guidance even if we feel we need it or not.
Fellow, graduates, its amazing that we are here today, but we couldn’t have done it alone. How can we even begin to thank those around us for providing us with the encouragement and the skills to make it to this moment and for many years beyond.
Teachers, thank you for your compassion, patience, understanding and bringing us the gift of education. Your hours given were more than what were required, and your willingness to take time from your lives in order to enrich ours can’t be given enough praise.
Parents, thank you for bringing us into the world, and providing us with everything we could ever need to tackle the world ourselves. Thank you for being that constant reminder to check ourselves in the mirror before we walked out the door. You were there for our first steps, our first day of school, first heart breaks, and every other step along the journey, fighting with us, pushing us, crying with us, and providing us the best life possible.
Family members and friends, thank you for being an extension of that support, providing us with that extra hand to pick us up when we fall down. Thank you to Starbucks, Tim Horton’s and various other caffeine sources which kept us awake through long days and long nights.
Fellow graduates, I would also like to thank you. Thank you for debating with the teachers, for always standing up for what you believe in, even if that belief was an answer to a social test. Thank you for sitting around a table in the cafeteria, never saying no to anyone who asked if they could sit down. Thank you for always singing 80’s music down the hallways and dressing in every shade of purple possible just to show your team spirit. Thank you for being loud and crazy and full of life, thank you for being nothing other than yourselves. You filled these years with incredible life lasting memories and unforgettable friendships.
Looking back at our journey up till this point, shows us aspects of our lives that should never be forgotten. However, we are embarking on a new chapter in our lives. Each of us following our own paths. 2014 graduates, I ask that you never forget your past, but always continue forward. Everyday is a new day and don’t let that reflection in the mirror hold you back from achieving your dreams. That being said, through this journey I have learned a few lessons.
- Procrastinating won’t get anything done.
- Everyone makes mistakes, just make sure you learn from them
- Your parents probably know a lot more than you’d like to admit.
- No one can ever hold you back form achieving anything but yourself. So please provide yourself with the best head start possible.
I hope these words give you one last piece of wisdom to take with you on your way. And I can’t wait to here of all the great places you will go. I ask you never forget the humble little high school up on the hill, the individuals who filled it and the mistakes that made these 6 years interesting. Never forget where you come from, but you have many places to go, and while reflecting on the past is good, Keep your head up high and move forward into your bright future ahead. In years that are to pass, I hope we will run into one another, or better yet never lose contact. I hope we can continue to learn and share our travels and adventure through life. I hope you don’t change anything about yourself, unless it’s for the better. After all, “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…” And as said by the holder of the dreaded red pen marking our papers, “Be Good, Be Safe, Come back in one piece”
BVHS Valedictorian speech
Aran Yukseloglu Ardan
Good afternoon, classmates, staff, parents, and honoured guests. First, I would like to give my thanks for the privilege and honour of being chosen to speak before you this day. Over the past few weeks, I have been amazed and touched by the broad support I have received for this role as valedictorian; the fact that I have felt this immense support, even from some of you with whom I have rarely had the chance to interact, makes me feel so fortunate and grateful to be able to speak on behalf of a class of this calibre. It is such an honour to be allowed to represent such a great graduating class from such an excellent school. Thank you so much! On behalf of our class, I would like to thank all of the staff, teachers, parents, and countless others who have worked with us throughout the years to help us reach this milestone in our lives. You have helped us unlock our potential along the way and shaped us into who we are, all the while helping us create memories that we will cherish forever. For sure, there were times in our high school years that were less than pleasant, but look at where we are now: graduating with that infinite number of fond memories and stories to tell. These things have made our grad class remarkably special.
During our time at Bow Valley, we’ve had numerous explosions in science classes, ridiculous costumes for projects, some photocopied…I mean phenomenal chemistry assignments, and countless other crazy and wonderful experiences! On our journey through high school, we’ve all been challenged, stepping out of our comfort zones to confront difficulty and pushing ourselves to new limits. These aspects have made us the people we are today. We, the Bow Valley Class of 2012, have consistently shown our character and many talents in all that we have done, whether we were fighting for a victory on a sports team, painting masterpieces in art class, putting on excellent performances in band and drama, or creating countless impressive assignments in our various classes; every one of us graduates sitting here today has made a difference to Bow Valley, some through hours of extracurricular efforts, others through the passionate pursuit of goals, and all of us through the effect of our very presence in the halls of our great school. Each one of us has our own unique talents and individual accolades! Our class includes an abundance of authentically entertaining, enthusiastic, and supportive people. We’ve had our fair share of poking fun at both ourselves and staff members; and on this topic, I’d like to pause for a moment to make one last shout out to a less visible section of the school which, unfortunately, couldn’t make it here today…: Mr. Davidson’s hair, you will be sorely missed! As I was saying, we have fueled the fire of our school’s spirit and have been there for each other throughout the years, cheering each other on no matter what. From pep rallies, where we got to destroy our competition while dropping food on teachers’ faces, to the last day of school, where we got to see the reactions of people as they drove up to our tailgate blockade, there are memories from what we did together that I will never forget. Unfortunately, there are also some more, not so pleasant, flashbacks I may never have the luck to forget: Mr. Allard, we maybe could have done without some of the ever-so-detailed recollections of your operations that you shared with us in bio class… Yet, as a result of all our growth here at Bow Valley, with our own individuality and our powerful influence as a collective group, we have marked our legacy as the class of 2012. While we’ve undoubtedly had our ups and downs, hitting bumps in the road and finding obstacles in our path, we have always pulled through, albeit with a few bruises here and there, to continue on our quest to create our own trails in life.
While this graduation is probably one of the scariest moments in our lives, this time is also one of the most exciting. In addition to the great memories we have made and the growth we have established, a great number of possibilities is opening up before us as a result of our experiences during our time in Bow Valley’s halls; we are about to take our first steps on our journeys towards the next part of our lives. Now, finally, as we always wished as kids, it is our time to take control of our own lives and shape the world around us. We are the light that will brighten and lift the fog of the innumerable possibilities and opportunities that lay before us. Following the wise advice of Harold R. McAlindon, I believe that “[we will] not follow where the path may lead. [We will] go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” While this may pose new challenges, I feel we are as capable as anyone out there of tackling whatever comes at us and blazing that path into an uncertain future. If we just look back a few years, this potential we’ve developed reveals itself. Since Grade 9, we’ve changed incredibly, embracing the Bow Valley culture bit by bit. In true Bobcat fashion, we now epitomize enthusiasm, bringing vibrancy and passion to everything we do. Our time in Bow Valley has taught us to harness this enthusiasm, and we have, putting it to perfect use in becoming globally aware and involved. From our Students for Change events, like the Night Commute, to our leadership group conferencing across Canada, to countless others, we have already explored the outside world and had an impact spreading beyond our school. Undoubtedly, each of us has had our own accomplishments and changed in ways we never would have even imagined in Grade 9. As we take our next steps, holding onto our dedicated attitude and thinking critically as we do, we will be well able to take care of ourselves. We are set up well to pursue our next goals in life using what and who we have become during high school as our foundation to build from. Since we’ve made it this far, I am certain we will make it further, continuing our successes in the upcoming years as we seek to create and shape our own bright futures. With the Bow Valley culture of open-minded passion engrained in us, I believe that our paths can go anywhere we choose.
I wish you all happiness on whatever path you take over the next few years, whether you are travelling, working, studying, or staying in your mom’s basement… All jokes aside, I urge you all to remember that now is our time: Our time to build history, our time to use our abilities to accomplish new, exciting feats, our time to make new trails in the world. I am, and always will be, proud to say I am part of this fantastic graduating class. I’m going to miss you all! Thank-you.
Lucas Chaisson St. Timothy’s 2012
I’m so grateful to give this valedictory address on behalf of this fantastic graduating class. First off, I’d like to thank all of the parents and staff members present tonight, and of course all of the beautiful and handsome dates accompanying our graduates this evening, for looking so wonderful and giving our egos quite the workout. To my fellow graduates, the class of 2012, I offer congratulations. Graduating high school is a feat worth celebrating, and looking around the room today there are many celebratory faces. However, as we celebrate the end of our schooling, we must not forget a very important beginning that arrives tonight. For the past 12 years we’ve lived within a microcosm. The school system. No longer will teachers harass us to submit assignments and push us to do the best our ability allows us. Gone are the days where we have a constant support group, employed to see that we succeed. As we enter the working world, as we live the rest of our lives, this support system will be lacking. That is why it is so crucially important to have a strong, supporting community.
Throughout my five years in this school I’ve been constantly reminded that “we would not get away with the things we do at a larger school.” This could not be more true. St. Timothy’s is a bizarrely unique environment. When I think of our graduating class, I’m brought back to cross country car rides with my parents listening to the CBC’s vinyl cafe, where behind the register of the main character’s record shop hangs a sign. The sign reads: “we’re not big, but we’re small.” While being a small school has it’s obvious disadvantages, like being mocked by your opponents as you run onto the football field, though they weren’t laughing after Aaron started running them around. Or knowing that no matter how hard you try to cover it up, the whole school will know before week’s end about your embarrassing weekend antics: I pause here so that you may fill this void with memories of whichever antic you find most appropriate. However, I believe that the positives glaringly outweigh the negatives. I can name every member of this graduating class, probably most of your middle names, though those that I couldn’t I would happily replace with John, because it works with any name, male or female. Honestly. I can truly say that I have built a relationship with each of you, whether we hung out on spare, did a group project together, had a laugh together at a party, or shared a heartfelt moment at a campfire in the form of a hug (look at beige). I hope that everyone feels this way. I hope that everyone can say that they made a connection with everyone in this room on some level.
Though, living here in Cochrane, in such a sheltered environment, I’m sure that as we move on in our lives we will come to certain discoveries that this place cannot offer us. Important lessons such as the surprisingly lower level of tolerance held by the majority of people for, well, to quote Mr. Arsenault, “St. Tim’s nonsense.” As we move away from home into city apartments, college dorms, into different provinces, and perhaps countries, I am positive that each one of the 37 graduates of this 2012 class will make a unique mark on the world. I fully expect to see the Leoppky twins wrestling alongside each other for Canada in the Olympics one day, although secretly I hope that either Matt or Austin decides to become a citizen of another country because it would be much more entertaining to watch you two wrestle each other. And I truly can’t wait to pay fifteen dollars for my ticket to a showing of Adam Morisseau’s directorial debut starring Chase Cownden. Perhaps even at the Cochrane Movie House, though I hope to God that by that point, Jamie is not the one behind the booth selling me my ticket. I suppose that what I’m trying to get at is the same thing that the adults in this building have been telling us for years. Every person in this room right now has incredible potential. While, I suppose I am only referring to the graduating class, or perhaps the people under 25, the rest of you, If you haven’t done something notable yet, you’ve pretty much missed your chance. Pass along the torch. Of course I joke, there is no expiration date on the ability to do incredible things. And I’m sure not every person graduating this year will be doing what they are truly meant to do this time next year, or even in 5 or 10 years. That’s just not how things work. Sometimes we need an opportunity to experiment. I have a feeling that Nathan’s study with wind turbine engineering will some how land him a modelling job, even if the extent of that is gracing the cover of “Wind Turbines Weekly,” perched on the top of a windmill, his trademark flow billowing in the wind.
All joking aside, I truly feel that this graduating class is one of the most talented to ever come out of this school. The results of that will be seen as soon as next year, as some of us go off to prestigious universities, colleges, or trade schools; some of us go straight into the workforce; and some of us take a year or two to explore the world, or chase a dream. And, we will not be a class of 40 engineers, doctors or scientists, but I have no doubt that when we all meet up again, which I hope we do, each of us will be doing something that makes us happy, and doing it well. I think that is where the difference lies between this particular group of individuals and classes that have graduated from this school in the past. Every single member of this graduating class is an incredibly strong individual; we all share a common goal. From what I have seen, no one in this room has a desire to do any one thing in life for any reason other than to feel fulfilled. To be fully happy. And, while this may seem like a selfish cause to live by, when you really take a minute to examine self-fulfillment, it does not seem so selfish. I’ve come to understand that it takes a certain level of maturity to display this selfless self-fulfillment, and while I can honestly say that I have not reached that level yet, I believe that some people in this room this morning have. I mean, when I look at what I want to do for a living, I can conclude that I don’t want to be a musician to make the world a better place, or to spread a righteous message. I want to play guitar for a living because it makes me happy, and makes me feel fulfilled. But when I look around the room today, and think about where many of you will be as early next year, I see motives that juxtapose mine very greatly. I don’t see selfish motives behind Leah becoming a nurse, from what I’ve seen the hours aren’t too hot and it’s kind of a dirty job. The only real explanation is that helping people makes her happy. And I’m not exactly sure what it is Moyer wants to be, I don’t really know that she is either, but every time that we talk about it she comes to the conclusion that whatever it is she wants to do, it involves helping people. Every person in this graduating class is going to do something that makes them happy, and quite astonishingly, for a great deal of individuals in this class, that involves making other people happy. I was trying to come up with a good word to use to describe what I feel for all of you guys as I was writing this speech, and the one that kept on coming up was proud. It feels like I get to graduate today with (insert grad number) brothers and sisters. The sibling angle is a pretty good one to take in this situation, as we haven’t always gotten along perfectly. I mean, I have been received a nice punch in the face from more than a couple of you fine ladies and gentlemen, and probably even deserved one from a few more. But, there really are no hard feelings at St. Tim’s. I must admit that maybe the first small portion of Michael and I’s friendship was out of fear, and I still don’t like it when he moves real quickly around me. But sometimes brothers and sisters fight. Tonight after the ceremony and all of the formalities are over with when we go out for a few soda pops, and in the Leoppky’s case, actual soda pops, there won’t be any hostility, there won’t be any fights, there will be nothing but good times and reminiscing with 40 or so of your closest friends. 40 brothers and sisters. Because this day isn’t about gowns, or suits, or caps or dresses. This day is about people. When I pack up my locker, my other locker, and the cornucopia of various things that I’ve left in the band room over the past 5 years and walk out of this place at the end of June, I won’t miss this school. I won’t miss assignments, or classrooms, or desks, or classes, because honestly, the last few years of math class are kind of a stretch, show me one non-math- teacher who has used logarithms in their actual life. No, I won’t miss any of that. I’ll miss the people here, because it’s the people that make this place such a great place to go to school. So thank you all for making my high school experience so enjoyable, I hope that this rang true with the rest of you as well. And finally, once again congratulations, and good luck as each of you next year and in the future. I hope that we all cross paths again.
Valedictorian Speech 2012 – Cochrane High
Parents, Grandparents, Family Members, Guests, and Students of the Cochrane High Graduating Class of 2012.
Thank you for giving me this amazing opportunity and privilege to speak to you. I will try my best not to make my speech sound like the lyrics of a Nickelback song. On behalf on the Class of 2012 I would like to graciously thank our parents, guardians, and family for guiding us to where we are today. Staff of Cochrane High, thank you for investing your time and effort into passionately bestowing your knowledge upon us. We most definitely could not have done it without you. Now I know it is going to be hard to pay attention to me because I don’t have as big of biceps as Jordan Nickel’s or as luscious hair as Logan Parker’s, but bear with me.
T.S. Eliot wrote, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” Taking risks has been a necessity for our growth, development, and maturity since the day we were born. The person that we are today is a reflection of the risks we have been willing to take thus far.
We took countless risks throughout our childhood and into elementary school. Riding the bus for the first time, making friends, attempting to ride a bike without training wheels, and asking the teacher a question. During these early years of our life, our parents were the safety net that protected us from failing at these risks. Thank you moms and dads.
Middle school had its own unique risks to be faced mainly due to the fact that most of us were not quite civilized yet. As a lowly grade five peasant surrounded by the ruthless grade eight overlords, the seemingly simple act of walking down the hallway was a challenge. As your risks evolved, your safety net began to expand to include your friends. To all of our friends, we thank you.
Believe it or not, you have also taken a risk at every moment of your high school education. Whether you learned Shakespeare, trigonometry, or how to drive your truck up on the curb in the Cochrane High parking lot, you took a risk. During this time, our safety net strengthened even more with the inclusion of teachers. Thanks to all the teachers that have touched us with their passion.
Through our years at Cochrane High, we have seen each other grow and mature. We have pushed ourselves past our original niches and excelled in a variety of ways. If your forte was athletics, you challenged yourself by trying out for that team, to make that touchdown or warm the bench for Kellen Forrest. If you were into performing arts, you faced the challenge of singing and acting in front of hundreds of people. Maybe your passion was academics, and you risked your average by enrolling in a challenging course. If volunteering and community service was your thing, you took a risk to spend time with the savage animals at the Humane Society. If your primary interest was wearing sunglasses indoors, there was always the possibility that you could run into things. Taking up two parking spots with your truck increased the odds of having your truck keyed. Despite these differing interests, there is one common element. Risks were taken. And believe me, you will have to take many more risks to achieve what you desire most. So in the words of my good friend Dr. Seuss, “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.” On a side note, Dr. Seuss also said “Please stop quoting my books.” But in all seriousness, Dr. Seuss nailed it on the head.
Many questions are probably racing through your mind at this very moment. What am I going to do with my life? What am I going to have to eat after this? And, how much longer until they let me out of this place? Do not worry; with time the answers will become clear.
In the words of multiple Top 40 Hit Songs, we are young. At only 17 or 18 years old (unless you’re Chetan Sharma, who according to Cochrane High has had at least a dozen extra birthdays), it is easy for us to stick to doing what is familiar, the status quo. Do not let your life be governed by the easy way out. Take risks, fail, and adjust. I know it may be daunting to strive for success while surrounded by such an exemplar graduating class, but do not fear. Success can be achieved in a variety of ways, many of which you have never before considered.
We are entering the world at a time when it is becoming increasingly apparent that change is a necessity. From an economic standpoint, the world continues to teeter on the edge of recession. While environmental consciousness is slowly making its way towards the forefront of international attention, there are enormous steps that must still be taken in order to preserve the future of Earth. I wholeheartedly believe that the Class of 2012 holds the potential to solve these major international issues. Who says you don’t hold such power? Who is saying that you can’t? The answer is no one. You have no limitations on your potential other than yourself. You are the master of your own destiny. Take a helping hand whenever it is offered, but ultimately, it is up to you to maintain the determination that you have shown throughout your years at Cochrane High.
Now, I understand that not all of you will not be the ones changing international laws, ending wars, leading the mission to Mars, and finding cures for seemingly incurable diseases. Maybe none of us will. But I guarantee that you will make a difference somewhere, for somebody or something. Whether you make that difference by fighting fires, caring for the elderly, or committing yourself to the environment even by saving a lady bug from the road, you will be making change and you will be the most important person in the world to that grandmother or that bug. Wherever you end up, and hopefully it is doing what you love to do, continue to show the determination that has become the most recognizable characteristic of this graduating class.
Like we have been told before, life will not be a walk in the park. It will likely be quite the opposite, actually. Life will be like the Cochrane High parking lot. On some days some of us will get lucky and snag a front row parking spot. On other days, that perfect spot might get filled by a person that you feel is less qualified than you. Occasionally you will get splashed by that huge mud puddle when you are in the front row. No worries. Get your car washed and go back to trying to get that front spot. Sometimes you have to take a risk and park in the bus lanes. In addition, your car will get bumped and scratched and there are never enough empty spots. Right now you wish that the lot was paved, but once you’re gone you won’t care anymore. I have no metaphor for if your tires get slashed. You are likely not where you are supposed to be.
The risks that we have taken have shaped us into who we are today and are guaranteed to mold us into the future. It is impossible to guess where those series of risks might lead you. I’m going to take this time to make a few guesses at where some of you might end up: Zach Biech will be the Prime Minister. Chris Schneider will be the Supreme Emperor of the World. Kellen Forrest, with a full grey beard, will take over the reins from Mr. Forrest as an English teacher. Bailey Serheyenko will be the first woman ever drafted into the NBA. Matt Hood and Ky Lang will start a cult centred around the mullet hairstyle. And finally Coltan Mitchell will win the Stanley Cup in game seven overtime with a spin-o-rama.
Be courageous and proud, but show humility. Be strong and independent when you need to, but accept help when it is offered. Take failures in your stride and learn from them for we are a reflection of how we have responded to failures. Utilize your willpower; it is your best weapon and defense. Obtain wisdom from those more experienced, but withhold your own personal judgement. Parents, honourable guests, and teachers: thank-you for your time and attention. Students of the Class of 2012: may your risks in life take you beyond what you can possibly imagine. Congratulations.
Good morning everyone! You know, unfortunately, that is one of the last times that I will ever get to say those words to most of you here. In just a few short weeks, high school will be over, and it will be time to say farewell to our friends, our teachers, and good old Cochrane High School. The worst part about saying farewell is that, in the perplexing words of Bilbo Baggins from the Lord of the Rings, “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve”.
But even if I don’t know all of you as well as I should like, I do know that everyone in this class has many amazing accomplishments. “Amazing” doesn’t always mean that you win ribbons and trophies, because often, challenges like persisting even when you don’t make the final cut, are the most difficult to overcome, and define our character more than any other trial. But regardless of what path delivered us to this room, we have accomplished just as much along our journey as many of the adults here, and of that I think we should all be extremely proud.
I have been waiting for a long time to become an adult. I continually expect to wake up one day with a miraculous wealth of knowledge that will unlock the secrets of life, but for some reason, that knowledge hasn’t yet revealed itself. And as the months pass, I haven’t met a single person our age who feels completely prepared to be an adult either. After living this entire year, the year we are supposed to stop being kids, I’ve felt no discernable change. As a result, I’ve finally realized that adults are really just tall kids. Since as long as I can remember, my sense of self has never changed; I am still the same person that I was last year, and the year before, and ten years before that. The difference between now and then is that each of us has matured considerably thanks to our own interests and curiosities. Overcoming all of our challenges and dealing with all of our issues has allowed us to grow, both physically and emotionally, into the graduating class of 2011. However, today we are all adults, not because we are graduating, and not because we are turning 18. We are all adults because we have earned the right to call ourselves by that name.
Unfortunately, with adulthood comes responsibility. Gone are the days when any problem, no matter how seemingly large, was easily answerable by our parents, who used to be our personal walking encyclopaedias. We admired them because of their apparently limitless knowledge. And now that we are adults, we are the ones being admired. Remember when you used to see “the big kids” at the back of the bus? That’s you.
In medical school, there’s a certain way of teaching new concepts, called ‘see one, do one, teach one’. The intention is that you see an expert perform a task, then you try it, then you teach the next rookie how to do it, in order to pass on your knowledge and experience. This process is an allegory for our lives. Until several years ago, our time was dedicated to ‘seeing one’. When I was an elementary student, I constantly asked my parents for advice, from how to tie my shoes, to how to unstick a jar lid. The answer, by the way, in case anyone is wondering, is to run it under hot water first. When we were young, when we turned to our parents for every answer, we were learning how to deal with any conflict, any obstacle and any mistake by watching how they reacted.
High school has been the ‘do one’ time of our lives, when we have tested all those lessons that our parents taught us. Most of the time, their advice was invaluable, and through practice, we were able to master many of the skills that we needed. Other times, the advice we needed was dead wrong, ignored, or simply absent, and the situation we were faced with ended in disaster. How many people here have tried sticking their tongue to a cold metal lamppost, even after your mother told you to never do it? I know I did one time, waiting for my bus in the morning. I finally had to rip my tongue off when I saw the bus, full of everyone I knew, come around the corner. How many of you here have ever washed money in your jeans? Or turned the wrong way down a one-way street? As embarrassing, or terrifying as those situations were at the time, we all managed to learn important lessons from them. These lessons were never explicitly described to many of us, because they are so self-evident. However, when you’re in the middle of jumping off the playground swing from way too high up in the air, you suddenly realize that all of these implicit lessons are the most crucial. And that’s what the process of “doing one” is all about: making mistakes, but garnering valuable experience because of them.
Now that we are all adults, we are ready for the ‘teach one’ portion of our lives. Naturally, you haven’t learned everything that you will ever learn, because learning is a life-long process. However, we can now speak from a position of authority in academics, work, and relationships. And it is our social responsibility to do so. We all need to continue the cycle of knowledge not only in the hopes of passing on our own experience, but also in the hopes of inspiring those who we teach to surpass us by compounding on what they learn. So perhaps the next time you see a younger kid struggling with their homework, building a tenuous pillow fort, or sticking their tongue on a frozen lamppost, it would be an excellent time to bestow upon them at least a fraction of your experience.
It is expected that each one of us have an incredibly large range of experience. But no one here is a perfectly rounded student with broad interests in every subject, because that would be borderline inhuman. Fortunately, each one of us has a unique sense of curiosity resulting in completely different experiences, the ensemble of which makes each one of us a unique and interesting person. And even though we know that these expectations are unrealistic, we still make assumptions about other people on a fairly consistent basis. For instance, what sport do you all think I play? Basketball, right? Turns out, I’m actually terrible at basketball. And yet, every time I meet someone new, the first question they always ask me when they find out that I’m in high school is “do you play on the basketball team?” Now that I’m out of high school though, I’m looking forward to the next decade when I imagine people will start saying, “I bet you used to play on the basketball team!” There is no mandatory knowledge that everyone must have, besides perhaps not sticking your tongue to a lamppost in the winter. We should all be comfortable with what we have accomplished, rather than focusing on what we haven’t, because when it comes time to ‘teach one’, nobody else will be able to teach it like you can.
Our grad theme is about looking back and thanking curiosity for shaping us into the knowledgeable and mature adults that we are today. Curiosity has dragged us along the path to adulthood. Some parts of it were fun, others emotionally trying. But importantly, everyone’s paths all ended up right here in this room. Along the way, we have all accumulated vast mounds of stories, life lessons and maturity that give us the right to move beyond our childhood, and rightfully call ourselves adults. I know that a lot of us here don’t feel like we’ve grown up yet, but I think that it’s time we changed our self-perception. We are no longer children whose opinions are easy to disregard. We must respect ourselves as newly minted adults before others will be able to do the same. People are starting to listen, so it’s time that we started speaking. You’ve seen it, you’ve done it, so go out and teach it.
I am honored to be speaking in front of you all today, especially my classmates and friends who have made this year most memorable. This day will be a cherished memory to be shared together as we move forward into a new chapter of life.
It is hard to believe how quickly this day has come, Even though we all had those days that seemed to drag on; it still feels like it was yesterday when we walked into Bow Valley for our first day of High School. Now, our hard work has come to a peak.
After growing up from young kids without a care in the world, through our awkward middle school years, to the final year of high school, we find ourselves in this moment, right here, right now. A moment of a lifetime, so fast to come, and just as fast to go.
We cannot forget the people who have helped us along the way. I would like to extend this gratitude to all of our family members as well as all the people who have influenced and supported us in our lives. Achieving our cap and gown would have been nearly impossible without all the things you have done. You have caught us as we have fallen, always been there for us to talk to, and been proud and accepting of us; for all of this, we are truly thankful.
Furthermore, thanks must be addressed to the staff members and faculty of our school. Not only have you taught us the knowledge we will need, but you have helped to teach us life skills. You helped us cope with stressful times by including yourself in our jokes and sometimes laughing with us, or occasionally at us. All of you have, and always will be, our role models.
Most importantly, thanks must be given to one another. We have supported each other through the years and could not have accomplished the things we have without the help of the people sitting next to us. I am proud to say that I am part of this grad class because we accept one another and have shared both joyous and troubling times together. All in all, I have loved this year and loved the people who have been involved in it.
This year was not every event we went to, or just the goal of receiving our diplomas. It was about us, and the experiences we have had together to help us achieve success.
We dreamed of this year, this moment, and still dream of what’s to come. As James Dean once put it, “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” We are all going to continue to dream as if we will live forever, and with work, these dreams can become reality.
Some times were tough as we fought through strained relationship, tested friendships, and high stress levels, we always seemed to make it through. Everyone managed to find their own little place within our class family. We may not all be the best of friends, but our grade is different than most; we share this feeling of acceptance, a sense of community and trust for one another. We have had more good times than can be imagined; whether it was those chants at parties, the jersey shore beat that showed its colours at our pep rally, or just the laughing in the company of really close friends.
We took the steps to get to this point together and gained the strength to move forward. But now, we must look at what is to come, maybe some of us will go to med school, law school, invent a new technology or end up on a reality TV show. Who really knows?
Knowing we are going our separate ways, I would like to offer this thought; wherever we go, don’t go there afraid. We must continue to experience life and courage is going to help us through unknown times. So, take those chances. If you are offered a chance you never thought possible, take it. If you are presented with an opportunity you’re unsure of, just do it. It is these pivotal moments that will define the amazing people we can become. This now brings us to a bittersweet moment where our future is within our grasp, yet we must cope with the fact that we will leave things behind. It is inevitable that we will all travel different paths in this maze of life and some of us might not see each other again. When the time comes for us to part, remember this, remember us, remember this place we have called home.
Some of us have been here since kindergarten, some for only this year. Either day, home is where the heart is, and a part of our heart, will always lay here; in our town, in our school, and in everyone we have shared this home with. We grew up in this and have all shared moments together that we will never forget. When we see each other again after high school, no matter where we are, this moment will bring us back home. We will always be connected, to this place and the people involved in our graduation.
Live life to the fullest, do not be scared of where it is going to take you, attack those challenges; but do not forget the place where you grew up and the people who grew up right beside you.
I salute us all on making it through. Finish these last month’s hard, and continue to make those memories that will last forever. Our lives await us, now just go out there and live them.
2010 Bow Valley High School
Welcome parents, relatives, staff, guests, and most importantly: welcome to my peers. I am truly honoured to be speaking before you all today, and to be addressing my friends and classmates. This day is ours, and I am so excited for this weekend.
This is truly a monumental and long-expected day for us all; it’s amazing to think we really are graduating! It’s hard to believe we are actually here. I think we can all remember days where math class made the clock seem to tick inconceivably slowly, and time pass at a crawl. Yet, looking back on these 12 years from our position here, right now, it all seemed to happen in minutes. Can we think back to our first day of Grade 9? Grade 1? Do you remember how daunting the years ahead of us seemed? Now that it’s almost over, it seems to have happened so very fast in hindsight.
We need to take time to thank of all the people involved in our lives. Think of those who have supported you through this all. Think of your parents, friends, family and teachers. We owe to them our success, for they were instrumental in us reaching this point. They all happily invested their time and energy into helping us sit here today, and they deserve our deepest gratitude. We never could have done it alone.
If high school has taught us anything, it is the absolute importance of the relationships with those around you when it comes to happiness. Through the emotional gong show that is high school, I hope we’ve all realized by now that we can’t do life alone. It just doesn’t work. We need each other; it is as simple as that. Your ability to love and accept the love of your peers is the greatest skill you have gained to this point. Hold on to it for the rest of your life. If you love freely and are loved back just the same, that is the most priceless gift that anyone can learn.
So, here we are, at our pending separation, about to go off on our different paths. It is very exciting, and a little bit heartbreaking; a most bittersweet moment. And know, you are not alone in your uncertainties, not any one of us is less scared than the next. I’m downright terrified, but that doesn’t mean I am unwilling to tackle life. Do any of us really know what the future holds? It’s just about embracing our unpreparedness, and not letting it hinder us.
These years have taught us many things about ourselves; it has hopefully pointed us in a direction that you wish to pursue If not, that is just fine. We will all find that something, that passion that drives us and makes us happy. I know we will. It may take a year, it may take 20, but that’s okay, because satisfaction takes time. There’s no reason to freak out if our lives aren’t immediately perfect and flawless, because that’s life.
I think that sometimes people are too terrified of failure, and they let it stop them. You are never a loser for trying. Never. To be honest, one of my favourite quotes comes from Little Miss Sunshine, of all places. When the grandpa is questioned on what a loser means, he says “a real loser is someone who’s so afraid of not winning, they don’t even try”. There’s a preconceived notion surrounding us that condemns one to be a loser simply for not being the best, or being imperfect. Please never, ever let yourselves be degraded into believing this. I implore you all to have faith in yourselves; have faith in your dreams. Our goals are unique and deserve respect, we shouldn’t let anyone make us feel inferior for holding on to them. Success holds a different definition for each person, and no definition is inferior to another. There are so many ways to be happy, and it’s something that each one of us is going to discover for ourselves.
Graduating classes generally try to label the legacy that they imprinted on their school, but that is a tough thing to do in such a diverse group. We have a pretty relaxed grade, you know, we just are who we are. We weren’t afraid to be ourselves. Whether it was sports, art, choir, skateboarding, partying, fashion, and everything in between, we were just free to express our interests, and our small size made us more accepting of each other. From the fervent organizational prowess of Leadership, to the impressive endeavors of the Wolf Pack; or the slaying of level 3 dragons in Mr. Ness’s room at lunch, our grade holds an acceptance of our own unique interests that most high schools cannot achieve. And, the best part about our grade: we love to have a good time.
There is something I want all of us to do, years from now, wherever we are in your lives. Immersed in thoughts of the future, I want you to sometimes think of your past, think on the years you had in our quirky, wonderful, disturbingly green little school. I hope you remember the awesome teachers; I hope you remember the names of your peers; I hope you stay in touch with those closest to your heart. But mostly, I hope you remember those innocent, endless days where we were all just kids: laughing, crying, and learning from each other. I hope these memories will forever be a tangible piece of happiness, to hold onto when times get tough; an anchoring rock in the unknown before you.
Here, in the foothills of the mountains, we did something amazing. We grew up. I know it is something that everyone does, but it is such a crazy, tangled, messy, hilarious process that it needs to be recognized. I am so humbled to have accomplished this feat with the most wonderful people possible. Thank you all so much for growing up with me. I look forward to spending one more precious month together. Once again, thank you and congratulations, I wish you all the greatest success in life, it’s out there and waiting. I will always love the time we shared together.
2010 St. Timothy High School Jonathan Parnell
Parents, teachers, trustees, superintendents, guests of honor, clergy, and graduates,
I have absolutely loved high school. And not because of the long nights writing essays, or the endless note taking of a lecture, but rather the people I did those things with. The graduates that sit before me are fantastic. Each one of these graduates has their own unique story to tell. But perhaps more importantly, they have a story to tell about each other. We have shared the most remarkable times together at St. Timothy School. Interesting fact, we are the first graduating class to go all the way from grade seven to grade twelve. So we’ve seen it all, from when the school was first being built all the way to today. We’ve lived through all the little fun days, all the boring classes, the sports, the plays, the parties, the quick Tim Horton’s run, the dances, the celebrations and even just eating lunch together. This is what I’ll miss most about high school. Which may seem weird, seeing as there’s probably a million of students who have gone to Tim Horton’s and another million who have gone to a party. But, there’s a difference, because they haven’t all gone with these graduates; which makes me pretty lucky, because I didn’t just go to Tim Horton’s. No, I went with these people. And that has been the absolute most unbelievable part about high school.
A few short years ago we were just little grade sevens, aimlessly running around the basement hallways, throwing food at each other, and randomly screaming at the top of our lungs. Now, judging by last week’s graduation banquet and our safe grad… not that much has changed. And that’s okay, we’re still kids, if we want to be.
That being said, we have come quite a long way from grade seven. We’ve definitely learnt…. Something… lots of stuff, actually. And I’m going to take this moment to mention our teachers. Some of our teachers met us in grade 7, as we panicked to find our class on the first day of this new huge school. They showed us the right direction, they calmed us down, and they certainly laid down the law. As we grew up, the staff of St. Timothy’s was there beside us, not just the teachers, but also our librarian, our support staff, and the nice woman that works at the concession. The teachers have been unbelievable, consistently, offering their time, their advice and everything else. A lot of days, we spend more time with our teachers than our family, and without them, we could not have made it this far. Now, that being said, we would like to take some of the credit ourselves; we have learnt so much off each other. We’ve helped each other along the way, and continue to grow up together.
About three weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to go to Cochrane High School’s graduation. And it was a marvelous banquet, but while I sat there, a continuous thought struck my mind. There was a singer, very talented, and as she sang away I thought “Wow she’s really great, but… I mean… She’s not Kaitee Dal Pra” and then there was the dance to follow, and once again I see more fabulous talent arise… as the dancers impressed their fellow classmates, I thought “Amazing, but… that’s not Morgan, that’s not Braeden, they’re not even Colton.” They’re some nice people that I vaguely recognize. And there is a difference, in the way we know people, the way we understand them, and the way we make connections. The point I’m failing to get across is, our class is a family and this creates a sense of belonging, understanding and respect, and because of this, a connection is made, beyond just acknowledgment, of, let’s say, a talent, but on who we are.
Our class is a community, and you can take a person out of a community, but you cannot take the community out of a person. To expand on this, there’s a game, a game where a person would say a word, and the very first thing that comes to your mind, you have to say it. Now, don’t worry, we’re not actually playing, this is done at a physiatrists, to find out what kind of connections you make. Let’s imagine myself at a physiatrists, ten years from now, and I would be playing this game. The physiatrist would start by saying construction, I will say Brittany, math, Duncan, although the physiatrist will be confused by these random names, he continues, hilarious, Matt Dimopolous, automobiles, Brandon Rothwell, chef, Braydon Morriseau, Rock & Roll, Brett furlotte, singing, Kaitee Dal Pra, athletics, Chantal Hall, dancing, Morgan Demone, global warming, NOT Lucas Czarnecki and finally, in complete confusion at these names, this physiatrist would sarcastically sigh, great, another crazy person, just what I need, and sarcastically mutter the word ‘awesome’ St. Timothy’s graduating class of 2010, I reply to the word ‘awesome’. He will probably tell me I need help, that I need to talk to someone about these feelings, but I will reply, that’s why I have Neil Prout.
The point is, you’re not just another face, you mean something, to someone, to lots of people, who think you’re fabulous. And it’s true, about that list, we all have something… we all have something to offer the world, and that game could continue through everyone. I look forward, to our high school reunion, in let’s say, ten years time. Where we see the lawyers, the doctors, the teachers, the travelers, and the CEO’s, the engineers and the scientists, the musicians and the actors. And whatever you decide to do with your life, I know, it’ll be just… fantastic. I know we will have a wonderful life. Because, that’s what everyone in this room wants us to do, they want us to be extraordinary, they want us to have a breathtaking life. So let’s do that, let’s repay the favor to our parents and family, to our teachers and mentors and friends. Let’s do exactly what they want us to do, be amazing.
Our parents are… well… they’re fabulous, aren’t they? I mean let’s start at the beginning. About eighteen years ago, there was this young happy newly married couple. They laughed, they had fun, they had picnics in the sun, and then they had children. They thought it was in their best interest to have us. They changed their whole life for us. And as we grow up, we grow this tremendous respect for our parents. For the parents who don’t know this, we value your words and advice, we completely put our trust in you, and we genuinely respect who you are. And as we grow up, I believe we all share one common goal. The one thing we all really want to do, is make you proud. And I say this not just on behalf of your graduating class, but on behalf of everyone, our siblings, younger or older, on behalf of all children who look up to their parents with such respect, and truly want to make them proud. From Kindergarten, when we excitedly ran up with a picture we had colored for you, when we ecstatically showed you how to spell our names, and when we got an A on our report card. This was all for you, and I know you, just wanted this for us. And finally graduating, on June 11th 2010, we hope this, most of all, makes you proud.
So here we are, graduating… with our little hats… the journey so far has been fantastic, you guys have been fantastic. I can’t wait to see what happens next, I’m sure it won’t disappoint. I encourage all of you to really take this moment, breathe it in, and then… go. And then… be awesome. I speak very highly of my classmates, I have nothing but good things to say about my experience at St. Timothy School. They’re my friends, here’s a sad fact for you, I have exactly 34 friends, and they’re all in this room. And I hope they’ll still be my friends after this speech is done. I hope they’ll still be my friends after high school. They’ve made my day for eight years straight, ever since I moved to Cochrane and had the opportunity to meet these friendly, caring, dedicated people that really understand how to live their life. They have fun, they work hard, they live to party, and I hope, I know, this is only the beginning, things have only just begun, and things will become way more epic. It’s just going to be so amazing. Some people here are going to university or college, and studying all these cool new things. Some people are going to work, like real people, like real grown ups do, and some are traveling, some people are going to Australia, how brilliant is that?
A lot of speeches, they try and inspire, they give you advice, and wise words of wisdom, and most certainly are of infinite value. But, the point of this speech, was different. If you were inspired and what not, that’s okay, but all I want to do, is thank you. The bit when I was talking about the teachers, and staff, and our fabulous parents, and all that stuff about how we have become a family, and how great you guys are, all I really want to say is, thank you. If you’re in this room, thank you, for being brilliant, for being there for us, for coming out today. For the parents, the teachers, the staff, if you’re an uncle, aunty, grandparent, cousin, family, thank you for being there for us, thank you for your enthusiasm, and being so incredible. If you’re a friend, we wouldn’t be your friend if we didn’t think you were awesome, so well done, you’re awesome. To our dates, our girlfriends and boyfriends, we wouldn’t date you if we didn’t genuinely believe, you are amazing. And to everyone else, trustees, superintendents, guests of honor, clergy, you’re all what make this world what it is. And to my graduating class, thank you most of all. You guys are fantastic people; you have just been so amazing. And it’s made the trip so worthwhile, so much fun, and I am so grateful to be graduating with you.
This speech isn’t about inspiring you, this speech is one big thank-you, for you have inspired me.
Welcome family, friends, teachers and fellow graduates. I am honoured to be able to speak before you today. I am also thankful, not only for the opportunity to speak on behalf of my graduating class, but also to all the wonderful people- teachers, parents and otherwise- who have helped to make our grad such a success.
The past four years in high school have, somewhat surprisingly, allowed us all to blossom into fine young adults, and the talent and achievements at our school are incredible- which is aptly demonstrated by every art piece, plaque, sports team, performance, event and activity. But we are now stepping out of a huge part of our world, preparing to begin the next significant chapter of our lives.
From here on out, our experiences will no longer be fully paralleled. We will all be setting down our own personal paths, whether that may be post secondary, work, travel or volunteering. That is why we must cherish our shared moments- these sacred memories of the past twelve years of our lives.
Graduation is truly a bittersweet time. It is a time for nostalgic reminiscing and exciting aspirations. While we may have only grudgingly trekked through high school at times, we can now fondly look back on rays of sunshine in social class, hearing about the “Worst Christmas Ever” in biology, watching Jenn struggle with her braces caught on her shirt, or reiterating again and again in math class how Lauren cannot make toast.
However, one thing I will always cherish as my fondest memory of these past twelve years is the magnitude of greatness that our graduating class has demonstrated in all our years together.
Our school population represents such a diversity of talents and personality, yet we also manage to seamlessly harmonize into a cohesive whole. All of you, my fellow classmates, have an innate capacity for tolerance and empathy. I could be stuck in an elevator with any one of you, and I would be able to have a comfortable conversation. I think our graduating class deserves an exceeding amount of credit for the kindness and acceptance that we demonstrate towards all, and I personally am so happy to have spent some of the best years of my life with all of you, who are truly wonderful individuals. Wherever I go, I am and will be honoured to represent the Bow Valley Class of ’09, for to have been a part of what we, as a whole, accomplished is a true blessing.
So, what’s next? If there is one thing that I learned while at Bow Valley, it’s the truth in Einstein’s statement that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”
And, with so many successful endeavours this year under the watchful eyes of my fellow graduates, with the patient guidance of teachers and parents, I know that our imaginations have taken us to great lengths in the betterment of the world, and I have no doubt they will continue to do so. Every graduate sitting before me today has the capacity in them to create positive changes wherever they go, and the world can only become a better place with this class now released into it! Take, for example, our Second annual Evening of Hope, raising money for two charities- or the Students for Change “Building Change” benefit concert, which also raised money for charity while simultaneously showing off some of Bow Valley High’s musical talent, something which you have witnessed in the performance from the Bow Valley girls choir.
Or consider the artistic accomplishments that allowed both these events to hold silent auctions or raffles- our grade twelve art and photography students are always more than willing to grace any event with their beautiful pieces. And, in fact, when we first came to Bow Valley in grade nine, the photography program was almost non-existent, but with the patient tutelage of Mr. Makreel, our own grads were able to help pioneer this CTS option and it has blossomed into a breathtaking success.
In every possible way, our grads have been successful and found ways to showcase their incredible array of talents. From ‘Youth of the Year’ winner Dana Swystun, to the achievement of the Sisec hockey team (new to the Bow Valley family this year), or the Senior boys’ football team winning the division 2 championship, my fellow classmates never cease to amaze even me. I think we have all had a key part in shaping the legacy that this class leaves behind it, whether it was in the musical showcases, the award-winning choir and bands, the creation of the library murals, or any of the aforementioned things. Again, we were given the opportunities to open our minds and let our imaginations lead us to fulfilling our passions and sharing them with others.
We have been given so many wonderful opportunities, and with the encouragement of our parents, teachers, and staff at Bow Valley High, we have all been able to realize our true potential. As you look out amongst this sea of blue and gold caps and gowns, it is can easily be determined, with a bit of imagination, that you are looking at the future of our world. Sitting before you are the leaders of tomorrow- the teachers, the lawyers, the politicians, the artists, the humanitarians, the entrepreneurs, the innovators… our graduating class represents every possible talent and every possible personality, and I believe that our combined impact on the world will be nothing short of profound. I believe that we can, in all ways, embody the idea from the novel “Q & A” by Vikas Swarup that “Unheralded we came into this world. Unheralded we will go out. But while we are in this world, we do such deeds that even if this generation does not remember, the next generation cannot forget.”
I know that all of you have it in yourselves to express your inherent empathy and compassion in all your future endeavours, and that you will all continue to embrace diversity and seamlessly harmonize with those around you. And I know that together, our graduating class can leave a legacy on this world- one of tolerance, of leadership, and of peace. Hold onto your memories of high school dearly, but let your imaginations guide you down your individual roads of success. Thank-you, I love you all.
2009 Valediction – Cochrane High School
Good morning grads, teachers, parents, grandparents, and guests. Welcome, and above all, congratulations to every graduate in the class of 2009! First, I want to express the eternal gratitude of the entire graduating class to all of our parents. All you Moms and Dads, thank you so much for being a personal cook, tutor, and chauffeur to each graduate. Staff of Cochrane High, I’d also like to thank you for pouring out your knowledge into our young minds – you do a commendable job year after year. Our success is incontrovertibly linked to the unmatched quality of the teaching staff, administration, and programming that has come our way during our four years at Cochrane High.
During graduation, it’s customary to look back and revisit the early years of high school. Remember the days when our bodies were smaller and our voices higher? I can guarantee that all of you vividly remember walking through the doors on your first day of Grade 9 at Cochrane High. The shock of descending the pecking order so fast is permanently etched into each of our minds. I remember my confidence disappearing quickly with my first episode in the weight room alongside a few seniors, who could have stuffed me into a pop can with little effort. In our first Math, Social, and English classes, we were told that the expectations of us were insurmountable and the workload would be prodigious. Regardless of the differences between middle school and high school, Grade 9 will be remembered as the year of Hakuna Matata, where homework could be done in half an hour and time could be better spent on that girl or boy in Math class. Do you remember? Did you ever think we would turn out as we did? I can tell you that if I had been informed in advance of the talents, skills, and achievements our graduating class would exhibit, I wouldn’t have believed the diversity we personify.
As we progressed through our Grade 10 and 11 years, we all went through a period in which we felt paralyzed and constricted by routine. I wanted to graduate with accolades, but I couldn’t grasp the process of achieving that goal or why it meant so much to me. We’ve all felt the seemingly endless routines of work, school, and life blending each day into a foggy, imposing continuum that obscures our goals and deters us from achieving the meaning that each of us chases. We all know that getting what we want isn’t easy – it requires much hard work and dedication, but I’m confident that we can overcome the paralysis that sometimes affects us. How? By recognizing and savouring the little rays of light that penetrate the fog and part the curtains of obscurity. Refreshing and rare, these rays are fresh perspectives, great friends, and celebrations that jar us out of the blur.
Those who went to Europe, San Francisco, or most recently Hawaii can tell you that during their time away from Cochrane, a new perspective presented itself to them. The accompanying staff members on those trips became more than just teachers. Instead of viewing them as arbiters who assigned us problems and essays, they became fellow humans, participating in the trip for many of the same motives as ours – some education, mostly enjoyment and recreation. Even a small shift in vision such as this can be enough to turn any monotony on its head and bring a hint of clarity to a cloudy morning.
It’s not just events and trips that can bring this clarity; the dedicated group of students in our graduating class can do the same with their everyday actions. Viewing the Cobras football team standing as one to accept the 2008 Provincial Championship banner does it for me. I didn’t even play on the team, and that feeling of triumph gives me an overwhelming motivation to achieve similar heights in my own sports. When I feel that I’ve overextended myself and taken on too many commitments, I think about Michelle Ah-Seng’s daily schedule. She’s Editor In Chief of The Voice, a part of Student Council and the Sustainable Development Committee, and commits to music lessons outside of school. Can you feel the touch of clarity after realizing the work ethic of your classmates? I almost forgot the one constant that we experienced day in and day out at Cochrane High. No, I’m not referring to Mike Sydoryk getting caught in visitor parking, I’m not referring to certain students having to wash Mr. Arnold’s car every week, I’m not referring to Hesterman making another pro-Oiler announcement in the middle of a sea of Calgary Red, I’m of course referring to Michael Smith’s bow ties. Every one of you possesses a unique quality that elicits a similar response from your peers. However, good friends and good times only bring a splash of coherence when you’re trapped inside tedium – the real light bringers are celebrations, which have the power to reverse our thinking and rip through the shroud of repetition.
Consider the essence of graduation. It’s often described as a culmination of work, a celebration of achievement, the fulfillment of one goal and the birth of new ambitions. A crucial rite of passage, graduation is the final step in the process of transforming a young student into a young adult. It’s true that graduation is all of those things, but I would suggest that these common definitions have a meaning beyond the superficial. To graduate a scale or a system means to break it into small steps, into manageable pieces. Grad is a critical step in the process of breaking the continuum and turning it into clarity. When lost in the obscurity, we irrevocably focus on the path that lies behind us for inspiration, but if we can grasp the lucidity that graduation brings, we can focus on the path that lies before us. Instead of using the past as a crutch, shaking it at new challenges for protection, we act proactively, seeking out those challenges and defeating them!
So we’ve thought about where we’ve come from, what stands between us and an empowering clarity of mind, and what allows us to tangibly grasp that clarity. What can that clarity do in our future? It allows us to both identify the issues that plague society and use our youthful ingenuity to solve them. For example, consider the issues that the contemporary world struggles with, the current events we’re confronted with each night on the news. The global community is enduring one of the worst economic recessions in the last fifty years; within Canada, once iconic companies and financial institutions are filing for bankruptcy and require government aid to stay afloat; outside of Canada, foreign relations are severely strained. According to the International Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report, global warming is spiraling out of control as our constantly increasing carbon emissions trigger natural responses that push atmospheric carbon dioxide levels even higher. It seems as if the human race is creating the very tools that lead to our destruction. What will it take for us to confront these issues pragmatically? A willingness to accept the errors of our past thinking and even more importantly, the motivation to change it. Each one of us possesses that willingness because of our coherence of mind and clarity of thought.
There is hope and a longing for change that is palpable in the air. An uprising perhaps, defined by and waiting for the new ideas and prowess only possessed by the young and clear-minded. It seems the world is looking for a solution, an answer. We can be that solution, those people who put their hearts and minds and souls into bettering our world. Friends, we MUST be that solution. Interestingly enough, the motto of the Engineering department at the University of Toronto where I plan to study in the fall is this: “Canada’s answers to the world’s questions…” Every one of us can personify an answer, one of Cochrane’s answers to the questions and problems posed by the contemporary world. Because of our solid background, we will break barriers. Because of our education, we will shatter expectations, and because of our CHS-developed clarity, we will shake the planet. Though we will pursue diverse paths when we leave in June, there is one thing that keeps us permanently linked, one thing that ties us together beyond any untying – we are all Cochrane Cobras, and the lessons we’ve learned here will stay with us for the rest of our lives. When you think to yourself, “I’ll never remember all that stuff I learned in high school,” be confident in this: You will remember it, you will. To break that continuum we all experience and grasp life’s treasures and issues with the same attitude, remember Cochrane High’s motto – Carpe Diem. Seize the day, the opportunity. Every day and hour you’re presented with is a never-before made moment that’s meant to be savored and benefited from. Make the most of it.
Graduates, I already know that success and greatness will come from this class in many areas. In this room sit tomorrow’s artists, musicians, engineers, athletes, executives, and moms and dads. Can we rise to this challenge? Can we courageously grasp the reigns and hold on tight? Can we seize the day? Each one of us possesses the ability, but to truly do so, we first must answer this question: Will we dare to dream, but will we also dare to act? Yes, yes we can.