Kieran Simpson (left) and Jayden Gigliotti were the 2014-2015 Prince Charles Secondary School valedictorians.

Making your own choices is important, say Creston’s 2014-2015 valedictorians

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Prince Charles Secondary School (PCSS) 2014-2015 valedictorians Kieran Simpson and Jayden Gigliotti delivered this speech at the June graduation ceremony:

Kieran Simpson: Good evening ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming. I am Kieran Simpson.

Jayden Gigliotti: I am Jayden Gigliotti.

Kieran: We are the valedictorians for the Prince Charles Secondary School graduating class of 2015.

Jayden: Getting to this moment has had its challenges, for some more than others. We would like to give a big thank you to all of the staff at PCSS, our elementary school teachers, our families and our friends. Without you, many of us wouldn’t be here today. It is with your gracious support we have succeeded and reached this point; again, thank you.

Kieran: Now, we speak directly to the grad class of 2015. Congratulations! We did it! It is with great honour that we stand among you this evening. We thank you for entrusting us to represent you.

Jayden: We begin by quoting an American business investor, the founder and CEO of Dell Inc., Michael Dell: “As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away that store-bought map and begin to draw your own.” High school… is this store-bought map. (Holds up map)

Kieran: For the most part, we’ve all followed the same route thus far, from point A to B making stops to gas up and refuel here and there (points at different stops on map) depending on what kind of vehicle we had and what was left in the tank, stopping at rest stops because sometimes the road gets a little rocky, and taking a break to relax, refresh and regain our composure is sometimes all we need to get right back out there again.

Jayden: For others, missing exit lanes, getting caught in traffic, ignoring the caution signs and failing to yield resulted in ending up in unfamiliar and uncharted places, lost, unsure of what to do next. When sometimes, all you need to do is ask someone for directions.

Kieran: Sometimes, once you admit you’re lost, help seems to find you. Some kind person directs you, and helps get you back on the right track, this time, ensuring you hit the right exit lane. Everyone gets lost at least once in his or her journey, although not everyone will admit it. Some of us get lost a lot… It helps build character. But for those of us whose sense of direction is somewhat misguided, find hope that there will always be yet another road to take.

Jayden: For most, that is how the trip goes, we get lost once, maybe twice, and then we really focus. We know we cannot afford to make more mistakes, so we follow the correct route the rest of the way. Others unfortunately find themselves lost one too many times. Their journey may have been filled with potholes, detours and roadblocks. For them, the journey of 1,000 miles simply begins with a single step and they will eventually reach their own destination. Being derailed from time to time should teach us to keep our heads up and to not lose focus.

Kieran: Regardless of our individual journeys, we are here tonight. We have converged at our planned destination, graduation! (Points to map)

Jayden: We can now throw out these maps. We’ve gotten to our first major destination and have no use for these worn out, store-bought maps, unless of course we want them as keepsakes. (Crumples up old map and pulls out new blank pages)

Kieran: This is what we have in front of us now. No starting point, and no end point. For some this can be rather intimidating. How do we know where to start? Is there a right spot to start? A wrong spot? The answer is no. The beauty of these maps is that you get to make them yourselves.

Jayden: This includes starting where you want and ending up where you desire. However, these maps will never be anything like the store-bought ones. Change is inevitable. We all knew deep down that one day we would graduate, and we’d be given a clean page to begin a new journey of our very own.

Kieran: We’ve all been anxiously waiting for this, some of us with excitement, others with trepidation. Not because we are leaving high school, but because we are leaving the familiarities and routine of our everyday lives behind. Soon, we will need to develop new routines, and establish new and comfortable familiarities. This is why some of us may be excited, while others concerned. No matter what we do after this, it will be different. Our lives will change.

Jayden: We are here to tell you that no matter how you’re feeling, try to embrace this change. Change isn’t always a bad thing. This change is going to allow us to place ourselves in a setting we want to be in and feel comfortable in. It will allow us to do what we want, and go where we want to go. We choose our place.

Kieran: Now, what we aren’t here to do is to get your hopes up. We aren’t here to tell you, “As we stand here before you we see future doctors, lawyers, surgeons or the next prime minister.” Because odds are that most of you don’t even want to be any of those things. What we are here to tell you, class of 2015, is that you get to choose what you want to do. Choose what you want to be. The possibilities are endless! You do with your lives what you please, and in a number of years, who knows? We may all be success stories.

Jayden: So as we stand before you, both of us with these blank pages, we would like to show you how easy it really is to start this new map and continue onto another major part of our life journey. (Both put a mark on blank pages)

Kieran: Good luck to all our fellow grads, in whatever you do next year, the next five years or even the next 30 years. Remember that if you find you don’t necessarily like where you’re at, you’re making this map yourself — simply draw on a new route and get to where you want to be. Congratulations, class of 2015! Thank you.

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