Class of 2023

Pop quiz, hotshot: What does the word Valedictorian mean? Valedictorian comes from the Latin word valedicere (va-leh-dee-cheh-reh), meaning “to bid farewell.” Everyone take a deep breath. Look around. This is it. This is the last time we are going to be together like this. This is not goodbye. This is farewell. To remember our time here, I will tell three stories.

up: “Don’t Be A Tchaikovsky.”

Have you ever had a bad day… at school, but nobody knows? They can’t see the prison you’ve created for yourself in your mind. You go to the caf. to be alone and sit intentionally facing the wall—the eternal wall of oppression. You feel a tap on your shoulder. You turn. Staring back at you is your arch-nemesis.

There was this kid in English class who I was convinced was my nemesis. Let’s call him… Lex Luthor. To cut a long story short, he had the gall to challenge me in front of the whole class to a debate in the parking lot. For me, this meant war. A cold war. We didn’t talk for the whole year. He did whatever he did that year… and I wrote a play. He showed up to that play.

Fast forward to Grade 12. We’re back in the caf, staring at the wall. Lex over here, says, “Hey, I really enjoyed your play last year.” Little does he know, that’s the reason I’m staring at the wall. The play. I tell him, “Yeah, it’s such a dumb play. I can’t get itright.It’smissing something.” and he says, “Do you know Tchaikovsky? Do you know the 1812 Overture?” “Duh, (sing William Tell Overture)” “That’s the William Tell Overture. The 1812 Overture goes (cannons). And it became famous.Well,Tchaikovsky hated it. He said it lacked artisticmerit. Here'sthe point: all artists are tough on themselves. Give yourself a break.” So, in the future, if you find yourself staring at the wall, remember… don’t be so hard on yourself.

The second story is called: “Don’t Judge A Jock By Their Frisbee.”

I used to believe all jocks were jerks after one cheated off my essay in grade 9. Three years later, I gave ultimate frisbee a try. And let’s just say my frisbee skills weren’t very ultimate. I didn’t belong there. I’m a drama kid. While I wasthrowing duds, the athletes threw me for a loop. Instead of ignoring me, they kept passing the frisbee to me. They kept giving me pointers. They took the time to explain the secret to throwing the ultimate frisbee. They were better at explaining things than anyone I had ever met. They were patient as I dropped the frisbee and dropped the frisbee and dropped the frisbee. And they cheered me on when I made the ultimate catch. They completely changed my mind. That day I learned, not to judge a jock, by their frisbee.

The third and final story is: “Don’t Cave In To The Coffee House Blues.”

Coffee House is a chill night. Unless you’re performing, then it’s the most nerve-wracking night of your life. You’re called up. You walk to the piano. Your heart is rushing. But you’re ready. You play the first chord. It’s fine. A little shaky, but you’re okay. Then, your worst nightmare comes true. You play a wrong note. It echoes in your ears. You try to cover it—another wrong note. You pause. You begin again—another mistake. You stop completely. Why are you up here again? Why didn’t you practise more? Why can’t you reverse time? All eyes are on you. Your gut lurches. Silence. Ear deafening silence.

Suddenly… someone in the crowd shouts, “Keep going!” and everyone cheers “You got this!” “Come on!” “Don’t cave in to the Coffee House Blues!” And you try again. And this time, you get through it. You’ve redeemed yourself. And all because of that one kid who believed in you.

What do all these stories have in common? They all show that Secord is more than just special. It’s a place where you walk down the halls and 9th graders randomly shout, “I fit in here!” A place where you could wear a chicken suit on top of a ball gown and no one would bat an eyelash.

Look around. Secord has given us an incredible gift. What is that gift? The gift of belonging. This is where we belong. But now, it’s time to leave. Once you step outside these doors, there’s no grade 9 redo, no more cow olympics, no more Junk Band chanting "if you don't wanna party then you should go home", no more music coming from hallways and stairwells because people practise wherever, whenever, no more smile of the day, no more applause if you mess up, no more teachers that have your back, no more high school. Because the real world is judgemental. When we become adults, everything changes. And maybe you think, “I’m 18, I have it figured out. I'm going to show the world how important I am." Once we leave, the harsh reality of life is going to try to destroy our gift. Don't let that happen. I encourage you to give the gift of belonging everywhere you go. Make others belong. Because the one who is truly important makes others belong. So, even though we’re going our separate ways, remember these three things: Don’t Be A Tchaikovsky, Don’t Judge A Jock By Their Frisbee, and Don’t Cave In To The Coffee House Blues.

This is not goodbye. Goodbye means see you tomorrow. This is Farewell. Farewell, means though I may never see you again, I wish you well on your journey. Farewell