Please feel free to take ideas and inspiration from my speech, but don’t plagiarize.
On June 8th I was one of 43 or so graduates to successfully complete five years of high school in my small town. I was voted Valedictorian by my fellow classmates, I was so excited! The public speaking part was peanuts, I had taken workshops and practiced many times during high school. But finding the right words to represent such a diverse and unique class was the challenge. I felt great completion and satisfaction reading this out during the ceremony, I felt honoured and most of all happy that this moment that I had been waiting for for years, had finally come.
You could say this speech unlocked my cage, and I was able to spread my wings for the first time letting myself breathe in all the compassion, love, and support and all the excitement, joy and pure happiness I was immersed in that day. My anxiety level was through the roof at the beginning of the ceremony, shaking, tearing up, the whole 9 yards of panic attack. I had wanted so desperately to make my class and community proud that everything before the speech felt like a blur. I didn’t realize I had just been awarded around $5000 dollars in scholarships, awards, and bursaries, the camera flashes, the applause, it was like I was on a merry go round, unable to stop and seize the moment. But once it was my turn to take the mic, everything slowed down to a smooth, tranquil serenity. Like swimming on a hot summer night, you dive in letting the darkness and unknown surround you, the water warm against your skin as you surface and face up towards the night sky, you feel alone, but surrounded at the same time by huge amounts of beauty, zen, and acceptance. My extra large font i used for my speech calmed me down, for just glancing down I was able to pick up my train of thought immediately in my head and with one deep breath I began my speech. The silent darkness in front of me, the smiling parent’s faces, and my class to my left gave me strength and confidence. The words flowed beautifully, and i was even able to add comic relief on the fly when needed. Having my mom and dad hug me and tell me how proud they were of me, hearing my peer’s compliments, and being stopped in town by parents and community members saying how touching my speech was; was and still is one of the best feelings ever. I set out a goal to make a speech that people may not remember the exact words, but will walk away with a good feeling, a feeling that leaves both the graduate and parent proud, that fuzzy heart warming feeling. I put every once of passion and sincerity into my words below, and I am proud to say that I accomplished my goal. I hope you enjoy.
I would like to begin by thanking my fellow classmates for giving me the opportunity to speak on their behalf.
*looks at class
I am very honored to represent all of you.
*looks back to the audience
In these caps and gowns we are one. A part of each other’s lives, learning life skills, achieving goals, and even failing Ogi’s surprise math tests. We did it all together.
But if you look closer, under those caps and gowns are individuals. Unique, talented young men and women who have dreams and the potential to succeed. I have been lucky to know some of these people since kindergarten, while more friendships were made during our 5 years of high school. We have grown up together, shaping each other’s lives.
However, none of us would have been able to get this far without the love and support of our community. When I think of Fort St. James, an African proverb comes to mind. “It takes an entire village to raise a child”. My peers and I wouldn’t have been able to weather the storms of life without some very important mentors.
I would like to thank the administrators and teachers, for giving us the gift of education. The coaches, community members, and employers for giving us skills to make the adult world a little bit easier to step into.
The family members and friends, who nurtured us and gave us the opportunity to grow.
But I can’t forget the parents.
Talking with my classmates this past week, I asked them “what do you want to thank your mom and dad for?” It was the little things, the everyday things that we are so thankful for. Here are a few of their Thank yous:
To all the Moms:
Thank you, for driving us EVERYWHERE.
Thank you, for making our lunch everyday.
Thank you, for supporting us through thick and thin.
To all the Dads:
Thank you, for reading us those bedtime stories and checking under the bed for monsters.
Thank you, for teaching us how to drive.
Thank you, for giving us strength and courage to face our fears and conquer our dreams.
That love kept us strong, through failed tests, life changing decisions, our first heartbreak, and the arguments. That love remained unbroken, unchanged, and unconditional.
And that has made all the difference.
So as you watch your child graduate today, feel proud of them, but also…
Feel proud of yourself.
Ernest Holmes once said:
“We cannot lead a choice less life.
Every day, every moment, every second, there is a choice.
If it were not so we would not be individuals.”
My fellow graduates, we have made many choices and still there are many more to make in our lifetime. Choose wisely, for we are able to create our own path and find our calling. Let’s step beyond our fear of failure for I know every single one of us has that spark to live the life we have always dreamed of. I challenge us to never forget the lessons we’ve learned during our time here at High School. I’m not talking about calculus or Shakespeare. I am talking about the experiences, the challenges, the memories; both good and bad that helped make us the people that we are today.
I know many of you are unsure, nervous, or afraid, gone are the days of being a teenager. We are young adults now. Take into consideration AA. Milne’s words: “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smaller than you think.”
We may not see each other for quite some time, we may grow apart, but this isn’t goodbye.
It is simply,
Until we meet again.