Columneetza Secondary School Valedictorian Ryan Jensen provided this speech to his fellow graduates during their graduation ceremonies held at the Cariboo Memorial Complex, June 9.
Good morning grad class of 2012!
To begin, for those of you who may not know me, my name is Ryan Jensen. Secondly, I’d like to thank everybody that voted for me. I’m really, really excited to be your valedictorian.
I’m proud of us all, we did it! Thirteen years of school is done with. I wasn’t sure how many people would be here at the ceremonies this morning, but I am glad there are so many — this will work well.
What I want to do is to give our grad class a giant round of applause that starts on this side of the arena and spreads across as I move my hand until we have a thunderous roar!
During my five years at Columneetza, I’ve grown a lot — we’ve all grown a lot.
I’ve seen every one of you grow somehow as a person and it’s amazing to see how we’ve all come together now.
In some way or another everyone on this stage has impacted your life, showed or said something to you that stuck, and that’s what molds us.
All these different experiences with different relationships define who we are in the moment.
When I first came to Columneetza I was a pretty shy kid that didn’t speak out a whole lot. In my safety net of friends I was fine, but when I ventured too far outside of my box, that was scary!
In the past, I was actually terrified of being valedictorian. I feared it — thinking I’d get elected somehow and have to be up here speaking to you all against my will.
But now as many of you know, I’m definitely not shy. I’m now that guy that makes friends with the stranger filling up next to me at the gas pump. I get a thrill now when I step outside my box and try something different, so when I had the chance to be your valedictorian I took it so that I could prove to myself no matter how big the audience or the responsibility, we can do whatever we set our minds to.
That’s growth. And I’ve watched it happen to all of us here.
You all know how you’ve grown personally and believe me, this is just the start. There’s so much more out there than we think.
When we head out into the “real world” to experience life, there will be times when we really miss this place … whether you’ll admit it or not. I know there are some of you that are like “nu-uh, nope, not gonna miss this place” — but you will.
It might not be tomorrow, it might not be next year … it might not be for 10 years, but a time will come when you’ve had a long day at work with the boss breathing down your neck; you get home and seem to be doing the homework all over again but for your kids this time, and then have to fight to get them to go to sleep, you’ll drop down on your couch and think to yourself: “What I wouldn’t give to go back to high school for just a day, back when my biggest worries were those few homework questions and planning what we were going to do on the weekend.”
One thing that I know I’m really going to miss is all the people who kept this school going. I know it’s been a hard and misunderstood year with the strike and teacher job action and all, but I’ve seen how hard the teachers have worked and I want to recognize that.
You really are heroes. Everybody here, everybody, has had that teacher or staff member who has gone the extra mile for them, not because they had to, but because they wanted to.
They knew that by doing so it would make your life so much easier. Without many of them, this high school experience would have been pretty bland.
I’m also going to miss our eight-minute Timmy’s runs; we had that down to an art.
To say I’m a Tim Horton’s addict would be an understatement, I swear the day I leave this town our Tim Horton’s will stop making enough money to operate.
I’m also going to miss using that entire stairwell as a sitting area and all the ridiculous things we did at lunch to entertain ourselves.
I can tell you one thing that the teachers are not going to miss — the fact that 50 grads had a spare in A block.
But there are some things that I’ll look back on and definitely will not miss, number 1 being our parking lot! As soon as the bell rings at 3:13 p.m. it looks like someone just kicked an ant hill; there’s a frenzy of kids going every which way!
If you don’t make it out of there in the first five minutes you’re forever stuck in that line of traffic.
If you’re stuck in that traffic behind Nico I wish you the best of luck because he likes to back into you saying, “I didn’t think you were that close.”
Nico, the mirror says “Objects are closer than they appear.”
My number two least missed would be those stairs going down to the entrance of our school. No matter how you go at those stairs, you will never walk down them in sync.
It’s like they were purposely built without rhythm and I bet the guys who built them were laughing the whole time because they knew that generations of students would walk down those stairs and no one would ever be able to do it properly.
I want to wish the best of luck to you all and I want you to go out there and do something that makes you happy, then find someone to love and share that happiness with.
It doesn’t matter if you become CEO of a multi-million dollar company, or you get a job as the guy who names hurricanes as long as you’re happy and enjoy it. As for love, you’ll have to find that person who was meant for you.
And you’ll know when you find them. You’ll get this tightening in your chest every time they smile at you, a million butterflies in your stomach every time they touch you, and when you’re alone with them you’ll feel weightless, like the breath has been taken right from your chest and you wish you could just freeze the moment and live in it forever.
This person will typically be the total opposite of the person you are … but they’ll complete you in the most serene way. When you find this person, hold on tight and don’t let go, because in the end it won’t be your money or possessions that are with you, it’ll be your love.
As I end my speech, I’d love to finish with a phrase from our very own Mr. Gaylord … Head in a positive direction Grads of 2012! A positive direction!