Prince Charles Secondary School (PCSS) valedictorians Kail Huber and Lukas Gribbin delivered this speech at the June 7 graduation ceremony:
Kail Huber (KH): Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for attending this year’s graduation ceremony. My name is Kail Huber.
Lukas Gribbin (LG): And my name is Lukas Gribbin.
KH: It is both an honour and a privilege that we have been selected to represent our fellow classmates as this year’s valedictorians.
First of all, we would like to give thanks to all those who played a special role in our lives and our education. Our parents, teachers, administrators, coaches and fellow grads have all pushed us forward and encouraged us to be the best that we can be. Thank you for sharing your time and encouraging us throughout our years of school. Any of the successes that we are to achieve are only possible because of the support of so many people in our lives and community.
LG: As high school ends, so do our days of nine-to-three classes and the constant camaraderie we have grown to expect from other students, teachers and administrators. Now we are left the daunting task of creating a life for ourselves. However, I believe that the relationships we have formed and the knowledge that we have gained here at PCSS will serve us well in our future endeavours. Our years in school have not completely shielded us from harsh reality. Although we laughed and smiled when we reached our goals and succeeded in challenges, we have also mourned and cried when we have failed or when we have lost those close to us. In particular, I would like to remember Sophia Khodaverdi, an Adam Robertson classmate many of us knew who died in Grade 7 in a house fire. Life is complex, beautiful and sometimes fleeting — embrace the day, embrace your future and embrace your family and friends.
KH: As I stand before you, I feel a barrage of emotions. Like many other grads, I have eagerly awaited the arrival of this day, thinking that it is my gateway to freedom. However, now that the day has actually come, I find it all to be a bit surreal. The comfortable routine that I have become accustomed to is about to end, and I am, all of a sudden, getting nostalgic about what I previously thought of as rather dull. Reality is starting to set in and it’s just now that I am aware of the deep significance of what has happened. We find ourselves not just thinking back on the past five years, but our entire lives, those irreplaceable priceless memories that will stick with us forever: first day of school, first kiss, friendships that have come and gone, time spent with family, even those days where all you do is wear pyjamas and watch Netflix for hours on end. These moments have taken us on a journey, none the same, yet all leading to this very day, a day in which we find ourselves no longer naive children but rather the men and women that now sit on this stage. The expectations on us have increased manyfold, and they come at us from many different sources. I would suggest that you evaluate these expectations, but do not let them control your life and instead follow your own dreams and aspirations.
LG: Last September, I had the opportunity to travel to Santiago, Chile, and had the privilege of attending public school there for a term. The school I attended was not as well funded as what we are accustomed to here in Canada and many students didn’t share the same luxuries that we feel so entitled to, but that didn’t affect either their quality of life or hope for the future. Indeed, the students in Chile exceeded in being kind and supportive of each other: no one was excluded from groups, students celebrated each other’s successes and they respected each other’s opposing views. It was through this experience that I realized many valuable lessons about life. As we go forward in creating our own lives, we should realize that it is not just about some mythical end goal but it is about the process and celebrating not only our own successes but also the successes of others. Tonight should be about including everyone, not about personal triumphs, but rather a collective celebration of each other’s accomplishments. Happiness comes from the inside, and kindness to each other is the medium in which it grows. Let us enjoy the journey that our life takes us on, and let’s be happy.
KH: We are the future. It is time that we rise up and take control of our lives. Society rests in our hands now, and it is time we start contributing to it in a positive manner. The days of being reckless and carefree are behind us. We must now go out and find our true calling in this world. Do not let someone else control your destiny; make your own decisions, find whatever it is that brings you joy and pursue it. Travel the world, spend time with loved ones, seek higher education, meet new people, start a family, try new things and live for today. Replace words like “wish” and “try” instead with the statement “I will”, and know that it’s OK to fall. At one point or another life is going to knock you down; the true testament of will is whether or not you choose to get up and fight back. Those that ultimately succeed are not necessarily the brightest and the most talented, but rather those that continue to get back up and keep striving to reach their goals.
LG: As a valedictorian must, I implore you to aim high and succeed for yourself and your community. Success has many faces and it is not always about making as much money as possible, although there is nothing wrong with that. I would suggest that the world needs you, and that not only should you seek a fulfilling career and family life, but also find a charity, a cause, a movement that inspires you to make a difference. The world currently needs a champion, and perhaps this generation can do what others have dismally failed at doing. Do not wait until you are so old that you believe nothing can or will ever change — get involved now. However, if you cannot get on board with fixing the environment, pursuing social justice, ending poverty, campaigning against cruelty or any other worthwhile cause… Do us all a favour, and just stay out of our way.
Both: Thank you.