Valedictorian gives grads encouragement

We are gathered here today, in the presence of witnesses and in the face of family and friends, to join together.

We are gathered here today, in the presence of witnesses and in the face of family and friends, to join together our childhood and adulthood in holy matrimony.

But before any of you jump from your seats to speak now, I ask that you all forever hold your peace for this is not a unity that cannot be denied — unfortunately, so it appears, we are all victims of growing up.

To me, growing up does not just mean that we have awkwardly sat through 18 happy birthday songs without knowing what to do while everyone stares at you and sings in horribly monotonous voices that sound like a funeral hymn and wonder if you should smile, or maybe sing along? No. Growing up has nothing to do with acne that might as well be chicken pox, facial hair that might as well be peach fuzz, or that word that every biology and planning teacher refuse to say out loud because it will create an outburst of giggles: puberty.  Okay, so nobody said that my peers and I were mature, but luckily growing up does not mean you can no longer be young at heart — I’ve got two words for that example: Mr. Duff.

But all of our journeys have started out that way: with a childlike spirit, and although we have all come from different backgrounds,  different families, different elementary schools, and different classes in high school: we all have had the same end result as we sit here preparing to graduate together. Our stories have entangled — like we are rivers winding alongside one another: sometimes in separate directions, but always toward the ocean.

We sit here, as if strapped in to our seats and waiting at the bottom of a roller-coaster: seeing the uphills and downhills and already feeling our stomach in our throats for every twist and turn of our future before it has even happened.

And no matter what growing up means to you, eventually we all realize that maybe our five year old dreams of being 18 didn’t quite add up the way we thought they would: it seems that five year olds forget that having a car means paying for gas and insurance, or that graduating means tears and fears (aka grad transitions).

But what five year old minds never forget, aside from lunch, is that the future is a suitcase filled with limitless possibilities. And I hope that every one of us still carries that childlike spirit to every adventure we face … because having a full belly is pretty important for success.  And having a dream; even more so.

I hope that suitcase is filled with memories and stories, and that it leaves everyone watching it go in circles on the baggage conveyor belt wondering how it lost a wheel, why the whole front of it is duct taped on, and who it could possibly belong to. And I hope you proudly claim it as your own when you unpack a lifetime of tragedy and accomplishment to every person that you meet.

I hope you have the courage to throw out your inerasably stained  T-shirts that we call “ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends,” to get rid of the holey socks containing memories that harm your judgment, and to only carry your favourite sets of clothes so that you  may always be happy, because I promise you: attitude is everything.

And while you pack away your positive attitude, always include a pair of gumboots. Be prepared for the day when your boots are filled with rain and you’re up to your knees in disappointment.

But on these days, do not forget to look up at the clouds and say “thank you” because the rain will wash away everything if you let it. But sometimes, the greatest storms are only trying to wash you clean.

And the world: it is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but do not be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it every once in awhile.

I am certain that an entire graduating class of students with passionate attitudes will be enough to impact a spark in the world that will create a revolutionary inferno.  I know that, despite this small hometown, we will pursue big accomplishments.

I’m not asking that you all fit the societal norms of success; I am asking that you never settle for something that doesn’t leave your eyes wild and your smile passionate. And I hope that you all have the courage to leave behind anything that is less than you deserve and start over.

I hope that whether you are a doctor, or a mechanic, or a cashier, or a philosopher, or a world-traveller — I hope that whatever you do, you always make your five and fifty year old self proud.

Samantha Delacherois is the 2015 Lake City Secondary School valedictorian.

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