The following is an excerpt of the 2019 Valedictorian’s Address, by Grade 12 Student Adam M at Graduation on May 31, 2019.
Good evening parents, teachers, administration, and of course, the Grad Class of 2019!!!
My name is Adam and I am finishing up my seventh and final year here at Calgary Academy. Tonight, I am extremely grateful to be speaking on behalf of the Class of 2019 as its valedictorian. It was just over a month ago when I was told, along with all of you, that I would be this year’s valedictorian. It is a great honour for me to be able to speak here tonight, and attempt to keep my promise to you that my speech now will be better than the one I gave then.
High school has been weird, but it has also been wonderful. The last three years of us walking the halls of CA while doing our work, or avoiding it, has undoubtedly transformed us from who we were when we started in Grade 10, into who we are today. It wasn’t that long ago that we stumbled into our *new* hallway, scared of the lumbering Grade 12’s who seemed to be at least ten years older than us. They could drive. They were tall. Some even had plans for university. To keep out of their way, we kept to our own hallway and tried not to bother anyone, but eventually, through sports teams, or the play, or just our options classes, we learned that a few of those older kids were not too scary, and that Shakespeare was really what we should be afraid of in high school.
In grade 11, we began to transition into the next phase of high school. We could choose our sciences. We started worrying about where we could and could not park. But we all inched one step closer to where we are today. We changed from anxious grade 10s, into tentative grade 11s, and now, we are finally here as confident grade 12s. This change, however, will not stop here, nor should it.
Change should be embraced because it leads us to our passion. All of us here today have the ability to break free from the structure of our high school life and into the excitement of whatever we strive to create, achieve, or obtain. For some of us, we do not yet know what this passion is, but we do know that we will find it. For others, our vision of the future drives us day in and day out, in every waking moment, to overcome the adversities that life will inevitably throw our way. Thus, is the nature of change. It allows us to discover more about who we are and what we want. It drives us to find our passion. Change, for some, is something to be avoided, especially when it comes to changing into our gym strip, which, for many of us, has not been washed since Grade 10. Many do not want to be pushed outside of their comfort zone, but change is, of course, inevitable. The only things that haven’t, and will never change are the multitudes of people getting sick every year at camp, Mr. Greiner’s righteously 60’s van, and Mr. MacDonald’s fantastic checkered shirts.
Nevertheless, the very fact that we are here tonight is evidence that change should be embraced. If we hadn’t embraced change, none of us would be here. If we had not overcome the adversities we have all faced at one point or another along the way, nobody would be right here, at our graduation ceremony. If everyone could pause, just for a moment, and recognize all the emotions running through us. Giddiness, anxiety perhaps, happiness, but most of all, excitement. This is what change does for us. Even through all the change of our last three years, we are all feeling, ironically, the very same emotions from when we started this weird journey called high school. Through all the change around us, we have simply gained a better understanding of who we are and what we want out of life. Change does not limit our opportunities, it allows for them to be seized. It does not make us subject to the world, it encourages us to make the world our own. Change has opened the door for us to pursue our desires. But we cannot become complacent just because we have made it this far. Tonight is definitely a night for celebration, for us to appreciate all that we have accomplished over the last three years, that is to be sure, but we have to remember that just because we have graduated does not mean we can stop. I mean, for one we still have exams. But we also have the rest of our lives ahead of us. We need to keep striving, with our passions directing us, so we can achieve all we want in life.
So, my fellow 2019 graduates, tonight I offer a challenge towards the whole graduating class. In the coming months, so many aspects of our lives will be changing. Our school will change. Our friends will change. For some, even our city will change. And none of us will ever be the same teenager as we are sitting here tonight. When faced with these changes, we can always fall back on what we have learned at Calgary Academy. We can rely on the study skills that our teachers passed along to us. We can rely on the support from the people we have known for years. And, of course, we can rely on the REACH principles that Calgary Academy have instilled in us. But with all these deviations in the times that are ahead of us, I challenge you to embrace all change that lies before you with enthusiasm and determination. This change will lead you, whether you know it or not, to your passion, and this passion will lead to success. Do not fear change, but rather realise how much change you have already undergone, and how much it has allowed you to become who you really are. And, of course, always remember the skills you learned about yourself and others during the wonderfully weird journey called high school.
*wink at Jack H*