Sam Tudor

Sam Tudor

Williams Lake Secondary School valedictorian speaks to peers

WLSS valedictorian Sam Tudor's speech during the 2012 grad ceremonies.

WLSS valedictorian Sam Tudor made this speech during the 2012 grad ceremonies on June 9:

There are a number of things I thought of doing in an attempt to impress you for this speech.

I was full of delusions of majestic quotes about stars and interpretive dances and such.

But I’ve found as I get older that usually the most effective way to say what you mean is simply to say it. This is easier said then done.

I realized, when trying this strategy, that I use the “F” word a lot: feelings.

I also began to realize that what I wanted to get across was one of those emotional bundles that can never really be expressed with words, at least not without sounding overused and cliché.

I hope you know what I’m talking about.

It’s like when all the little things that happened to you in the last five years click together for a second, and you think you really know how something feels.

It’s like colour or music. It’s beautiful, but that type of idea never works well in words. So naturally, I tried to put it into words.

I have, in the past, stood and spoken on behalf of a group of people.

Never in my life have I been so proud to do so, and never in my life have I been able to sincerely mean every single word the way I do today. It is truly an honour.

We are, collectively, the graduating class of 2012.

I think in a way we all must have been part of some twisted scientific experiment. Someone decided to put 114 students about the same age, all very different and distinct, in a dome with fluorescent lighting and watch the species interact.

If that is true then I hope the scientists are watching closely because I think they could obtain some valuable information.

It’s a fascinating thing, if you think about it, how all of us can be compacted together during some of the greatest turning points in our lives, and all our classes and books and homework and parties and music and dancing all get compressed into this one sort of identity.

The other thing that’s beautiful about it is that only we know. I used to complain about how people don’t understand teenagers. They only remembered their life at our age and projected it onto us.

They didn’t realize that sleeping on a friend’s couch meant something different to us than it did to them.

But now I understand, and I like it. I like that no one will ever know exactly what it felt like for us. Only we will.

When we all spread out like a spider web in different directions, that’ll be the thing we all keep among us.

Those five years where we were all a collective group. I like that.

In Grade 8, at our first assembly, the teachers made this massive sweeping statement that was something along the lines of, “You guys are one of the best years we’ve had. There’s an amazing talented bunch of kids in this group.”

That feels like a long time ago now, but I remember how much it terrified me. My new Grade 8 mind suddenly thought: “Oh my goodness, I’m in a grade full of brilliant, prodigal angels. Someone must have put me in the wrong year!”

Luckily the teachers were wrong. Only joking.

In fact, everyone who said that hit the nail exactly on the head, although I think it’s taken us as a grad class five years to realize exactly what that means, to figure out what our definition of brilliance is.

In my eyes, in our eyes, that gives it more value.

It’s taken five years of sitting in the commons, talking, and playing music. It’s taken five years of being nervous for some things while striding boldly forward into others.

It’s taken five years of the strange experiment but now I finally get it.

The little scraps of pictures we gather since day one off the bus have now morphed into one giant colourful portrait, and when people say, “Oh yeah, great group of kids,” I can smile and nod knowingly. I still can’t explain it.

I’ve never had to explain it before.

Everyone sitting behind me knows what this strange colourful idea is.

We all showed it to each other. What this idea is, is 114 different personalities.

That’s all it is. Who could have thought it would be such a work of art.

So now it’s done. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a last goodbye.

Perhaps not to each other, perhaps not to the community we grew up in.

As I said, we have things that are only ours.

But as of today we move from being the high school students of Williams Lake secondary to the past high school students of Williams Lake secondary. We will never have this again.

Everyone does it, everyone graduates, and I’ve always wondered what’s the big deal. But we’ve put so much emotion into the last five years it’s hard to just watch it move into the distance. It’s a strange feeling. I looked up “wistful” in the dictionary and one of the many definitions was “a fleeting sadness for times gone by.”

Which is closer, but not quite right because it’s also a time of joy and celebration.

The world is changing, more then ever; there’s no doubt about that in my mind.

It’s a stereotype, but when you look around you realize we really do have it now, in our hands, the chance to shape a planet we want to see.

Generations keep coming, kids keep growing up, and we are only a small part of things, yes, but it would be nice to hand something down to children and grandchildren and say here, here’s the world we’ve created. We’ve done all we can, now run with it.

Good luck. When we do that, I hope we will be proud of what we have given.

People have said that our generation has nothing to get behind.

It’s kind of true, I guess.

The ‘60s had flower power and hallucinogenic drugs, the ‘70s had nuclear warfare, the ‘80s had Pac-Man, but we have … everything. We can become whatever we want. That’s important.

I don’t really know what else to say now but thank you. It is true that every person is like a puzzle, and it’s important to recognize those who give us pieces on our way to a full picture.

Every teacher, counsellor, principal, vice principal, janitor … has been so important to us.  Whatever your political opinion lately, anyone who has to deal with someone who isn’t genetically related to them for seven hours a day and still manages to show them new things with excitement deserves more then they get now.

Something is working at Williams Lake, and if any of those young children approaching high school get anything near to the experience we had they will be lucky.

It’s nice to have teachers you can also call friends.

To our parents, if you don’t already know how important you are and how much we love you, then we’ll let you know when we come back to live in the basement in 10 years. Just kidding.

To all the graduating class of 2012, I love you guys, will really miss you, and will not forget you.

I’m not sure any of us could have predicted the amount of support and excitement one group of kids could create.

Even up until the last few weeks, our friends would keep stepping forward with new talents and ideas, new songs to sing.

I know the reason we’ve been able to have such an interesting and close-knit grad class is because we would never hesitate to make room for who each individual was. We really have been like one big family. One big family that dates each other.

The other thing I thought of doing in this speech is saying something like

“Now we take on the world” or something else inspiring.

But I wanted to stay honest and accurate, so I calculated the odds.

There’s 114 of us and seven billion of them, so that makes 60,000,000 of them for every one of us.

And I think, in a brawl, the odds aren’t actually that bad.

So there.

We graduated.

Now, time is wasting.

Forward march towards whatever makes you happy.

Find it and go do it.

Good luck, and so long for now.