Some of Portage’s biggest smiles were seen on young and more experienced faces as the community gathered to congratulate a large collection of youth as they say goodbye to high school and hello to fresh endeavours, whatever they may be.
PCI Valedictorian Tee-Tee Appah summed it up correctly in stating graduating from high school is in a way another kindergarten stage into a new world for them.
Here is her speech:
By Tee-Tee Appah
The day has arrived. The day we officially become high school graduates. Today, after spending four years dutifully dedicated and persevering, we are finally being rewarded and honoured. Fellow graduates, teachers, parents, relatives and friends, I stand before you today, humbled by the profound opportunity to address you all one final time as the class Valedictorian. As we close this chapter of our lives and move on to the next, we have had the privilege of meeting new people and teachers, and learning lessons along the way. I would like to reflect on those experiences, talk about our potential successes, potential failures and, the abstract yet promising future that lies ahead.
On the first day of the ninth grade, I can still remember walking into the crowded gym for our orientation. I can remember what I wore, and how nervous I felt amongst all of my classmates. I’m sure the majority of you can relate with that memory. Grade nine was the very beginning of our high school story. We were overwhelmed with new tasks, responsibilities as well as a new environment. Between maintaining new friendships and vetting new teachers, we all ultimately came to the conclusion that high schools on T.V. are loosely based on the real world. It is much more difficult and a lot less scandalous than it is portrayed in the movies.
As grade nine firsts turned to grade twelve lasts, I believe that we can all genuinely say that we learnt something from our high school experience. Whether it was how to write and structure a great essay, or how to write and structure a gradable essay the night before it’s due, we can all agree that those experiences shaped us into the young adults we are today. In addition to the things we have learnt in high school, it is also important to reflect on the positive influence we have had on our school and community. For those into sports, were part of a school club, or represented our school in any way, you should all be proud of the influence that you have created. You took your free time, that we all know is limited, and devoted it to programs that are bigger than yourselves. Your dedication did not go unnoticed and you have inspired many. In a similar manner, it is also imperative to thank the people who have inspired us. I invite you to look around at the people who have come today to witness and celebrate us on this momentous occasion. The motivation and unwavering encouragement they have supplied over the years is truly valued, appreciated, and will never be forgotten. Our community has helped raise us with various recreational activities, job opportunities, scholarships, and a healthy pushing us in the right direction. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that is especially true in Portage la Prairie.
Our future may lead us all in many different directions. Some may gravitate towards post-secondary education, others may choose to enter the workplace directly, others may still be undecided. It is important to understand that whatever path we may choose now or in the future, may lead to both successes and failures. Life does not always work out in a perfect linear fashion. The simple fact is that sometimes the results we want to reap from life take time and effort to be realized, but time and effort should never deter us from our goals. We may go down one path, and not always achieve the anticipated outcome, but as William Hickens once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” As long as you keep trying, you have never fully failed.
Gone now are the days of high school, its milestones and achievements behind us, and the horizon ahead. This is our first step of many into the rest of our lives, this chapter we are closing tonight is in a way the ‘Kindergarten’ before we advance into the world. No matter where we go in life we should remember that this small community is where we took root. We might come from a small city, but our dreams and aspirations need not be confined to that mold. The size of a home does not matter, it’s the people within it that make all the difference; our home has given us all so much. As we leave here today I urge us all, graduates and supporters alike, to take care of one another. Dear Graduating class of 2018, thank you for a very memorable four years. I wish you all nothing but the best this world has to offer you. We, the youth, are the future of tomorrow; our experiences, our successes, and our failures will aid us in crafting a life we are proud of, a life that we love. But for now, ground yourself in this moment, this moment that all your hard work has been for, the fruit of your labour. You have earned this. Thank you.