As the 2020- 2021 one school year comes to an end, Riverside grade twelves prepared their final task as a graduate. The class of 2021 was asked to choose who they thought would be the best candidate to convey the right sentiments in a speech reflecting on a year filled with pride, resilience, and frustration due to COVID-19. Many students were up for the challenge. Kelsey Stewart and Olivia Gale, Rojeen Palani and Nina Mihajlovic, Clayton Campbell, Liam Byrne, Malk Ouj, Malayna Pitt and Caralyn Wittal, and Madelaine Wong all put their names forward to be considered. Ultimately, Liam was chosen as salutatorian, and Clayton was chosen as the valedictorian.
In the United States and some provinces in Canada, the valedictorian and salutatorian are awarded to the students with the first and second-best academic grades that year. However, at Riverside, it is a tradition for the student body to vote for whom they believe would be the best option. Many students prefer this method because students can choose someone whom they believe will best capture their sentiments of their grade twelve year, and best send them on their way with some insights on life for after high school.
The Eddy had a chance to speak with both Clayton and Liam about the process of running for valedictorian and salutatorian. Clayton expressed that running had been in the back of his mind, but with his friends’ encouragement he went for it. Running did come with some challenges. Creating the candidate video, running against friends, and writing the speech created some stress.
Both Liam and Clayton’s candidate videos were a blend of reflection (in a year like none other) humour and charm. Liam went into the process with similar motivations as Clayton. He wanted to describe his years at Riverside as a student who came from another catchment, who got to know his fellow students, and who found a niche at the school. Liam knew he would be up for the challenge as he described his years at Riverside, reflecting on the people, teachers, and friends alike, who were part of his journey. A journey which inspired him to run, as he phrased it, ‘with the off chance of winning.’ And he did.
Being valedictorian or salutatorian of a graduating class is an honor bestowed by one’s peers. It requires thoughtful acknowledgment of peers, the teachers, the school, as well as reflection on the path ahead in a world changed by COVID-19. Clayton and Liam are certainly up for the job. Read their speeches below.
Liam Byrne Salutatorian speech
Hello and thank you for your time. My name is Liam Byrne and for some reason, I was elected Salutatorian to speak for this year’s graduating class of 2021. But before I get started, I would like to acknowledge that we are on the unceded traditional territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nation, which lies within the shared territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Katzie, Musqueam, Qayqayt, Squamish, and Sto’:lo Nations. Welcome parents, students, and honoured guests.
We all were a little anxious when we arrived at Riverside for the first time. I know I was because I was coming from an out of catchment school and none of my friends would be coming with me. But eventually we all settled in and got to know the amazing students and staff that make up our riverside community. The caring community that brought us an endless supply of bubble tea, Crispy Creme donuts, and Purdy’s Chocolate… um I mean a community that fund raised for great causes like the Children’s Hospital, holiday hampers, and even the grad class of 2021. During our time at Riverside, we’ve seen many good teachers come and go. Mr. Muro retired after promising he would years before. He always said that it was riverside’s wonderful students that kept him teaching, and I was lucky enough to be in one of his final Pre-calculus classes. Ms. Collins is retiring this year and we will miss her for her creativity and hard work. I would like to wish her an exciting and care-free retirement. Furthermore, I would like to extend this thanks to all of Riverside’s teachers for helping open our minds to the possibilities.
Although study was a focus after getting a lot more homework than middle school, we didn’t let that stop us from having fun or get in the way of our school pride. We participated in events like the Tough Mudder, Terry Fox runs, Spirit Weeks and Spirit Assemblies. But I have a confession to make: I’ve probably participated in the least amount of these events. Sure, I’ve participated in the tough Mudder, but I haven’t run the Terry Fox run a single time; I had to play the guitar in the jazz band to cheer you on. Sure, I have worn a green shirt once for spirit week… on the right day, but I’ve never actually been in a Spirit Assembly. The roaring, boisterous cheers of our enthusiastic students were just too much for me, so I ended up practicing in the band room instead. Or, on one occasion I was invited to the special Ed class to watch Charlie Brown and sip on hot coco. It is a cherished memory. Our community is so inclusive that I did not have to participate to feel like I was a part of something bigger.
G12 has perseverance. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, riverside had to halt all activity and rethink how we would move on with school life. Surprisingly, by making us have to use quantum mechanics to figure out which class we have and when, on our crazy and ever-
changing schedules, we were able to make it work. We did not just settle for mediocrity though, we had weekly challenges and prizes, I got to run a relay race, part obstacle-course with my friends while social distancing, heck we still had bubble tea sales. We were even able to have our Halloween parade; masks were mandatory this Halloween. Although this pandemic drove Riverside apart quite literally, it brought us together figuratively. And with that I would like to congratulate and welcome this inspiring grad class to the stage along with this year’s Valedictorian.
Clayton Campbell Valedictorian speech
So, welcome to the beginning of the end of the beginning
Thank you, be it a graduate student, teacher, parent and or guardian for showing up
And you know? It’s finally over, 13 years of repetitive studying.
At times it seemed difficult, it felt like we were overwhelmed
And when we look back on it all, we think to ourselves, was high school that hard? Were we just naïve?
We have grown to where, we realized that high school, it’s not that intimidating of a climb.
We are here because we have experienced everything that this school has had to offer, and it is now time to move on.
But before we set off into the great unknown, that is our life, I am going to take 10 minutes of your time to reflect upon on how we grew and what we accomplished in our stay here.
When we first started out in kindergarten, we thought that Legos were the most fascinating things in the world.
Then in grade 6, we were among the first generation to have smart phones wherever we went and it was the most important thing in….
Phone buzzes, looks down at phone for a while
Anyhow, where were we?
And when we graduated into high school, we were ready
And I know that some of us are from different parts of Poco, and even the world
However, no matter where you came from, you persisted through elementary school, middle school and that has led you to end up here, at Riverside
Most of us started our adventure almost four years ago at Riverside.
Small little grade 9’s realizing that they aren’t the iron fist of the school anymore.
The beginning of high school reminded us of what it is like to start all over again.
We were trying to find ourselves in an ocean of uncertainty
This was a time before Covid
I know Covid has got all of us down in many different ways
Teams was a flaming dumpster fire for our attention span, but our grades rose because we are insane at online tests.
And some days we didn’t even get out of bed, or we were on our phones during online class
But at least we got to see our teachers at 10 frames per second trying to explain something, I have no idea, I wasn’t paying attention.
But, as much as we think about the negative impacts of Covid, there are a lot of positives too.
For one, we didn’t have to use the school’s internet for a whole four month’s last year.
And even with Covid, we did accomplish a lot in high school.
We finished our Capstones, which is very significant in the grand scheme of the universe.
We saved 963 lives in the two Move 4 Mana challenges our school had, thank you Ms. Durand for that
We raised billions of dollars for certain fundraisers that our school took part in.
And to my French immersion students
Nous sommes excités pour la fin du l’école secondaire
I have no idea what I just said
We adapted to the new library, hardest challenge we faced while attending.
Ahhhh, and, we loved doing our core-competencies, and we finished every single one
Not only that, we popped off in sports.
Some highlights from our years of competing, are that our female cross-country team consistently smashed the competition.
Our senior boy’s volleyball team won Frasers North last year
And the school’s curling team won regionals back-to-back and came 4th and 2nd in provincials respectively.
We truly have some amazing athletes in G21, both female and male
I just want to take some time and give a huge thanks to the things that take the beating for us everyday
We can learn a lot from them
No matter the amount of sharp pebbles, dog poo, and distance they face, they persevere on through and continue to serve us
Each archetype of footwear fulfills a different purpose for us
Like these Crocs
You would never wear these to a job interview.
But you would wear these when you are the best…
When you have your guard down and do not have to worry about what others think about you
I know some of us never take our Crocs off, but I also know that some never leave the high heels too
Balance is one of the most important things in life
If we forget to laugh, then life is dull
If we forget to show up to work, then life is dumb
We all have to learn compromise, if not, then humanity is gone.
Okay, next pair of shoes are these uh (I will not know what they are)
You know, personally I would rather wear concrete as shoes than these
But someone analyzed graphs, presented the design in board meetings, and tested these shoes
They were curious
They asked themselves the question of “How Can I Make More Money”
Their answer was pretty good because I am holding these hmmmmm
All ideas start off as a thought, then possibly bloom into action and then maybe something bigger
As we grow older, we will gain knowledge, as a replacement for imagination
But in doing so, we constrain ourselves to these laws and ideas leaving no space to grow new ones
We look up into the stars as a way to escape
Because when we look down and around, we see problems that are difficult to fix.
It is only human nature to want to start over.
But we can’t
We have to settle down as a society
Stop attacking one another no matter the political colour.
And be the stranger with a nice helping hand
And then, the stars will shine just that much brighter.
I do want to take a moment and thank all the parents and guardians out there today
These are the equivalent of your socks and sandals
They may not make sense to other people, but they make sense to you, I mean maybe
So to the parents and guardians, you have raised these teenagers to be more than good people
I have had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with all the diverse characters in G21
Also, to the teachers and staff who have taught us, thank you, you probably made more of an impact on us than you might think
It doesn’t matter if you’re Mr. Romani giving constant life advice in class
Or like Mr. Gee just being a real G
I also want to thank Hubbard for teaching math, I can now avoid doing tax fraud.
And thank you Ms. Jackson for the best three class there are.
Unfortunately, I can’t thank all the teachers or else this would be 90 minutes long
So especially to those teachers that taught us more than the standard school curriculum and went above and beyond, thanks.
The quality of our school is derived from the teachers
In 17th century China, they used cowboy boots to assert dominance
All the cool kids wore Cowboy boots
They ruled the land
So I ask you,
What do you think gives you power? Is it your dog? Is it the fact that you’re pretty?
If grades are the only thing protecting you from failure?
Then grades are nothing, right?
We have to find multiple sources of our power
Because to be self-motivated
To be successful, we need power
We need power to sustain ourselves when we are feeling low
I cannot tell you or even guide you how to get your power
But when you do, be humble, remember that your feet tread upon the soil
We see others with power and want to strip them of it
But, what is stopping you from rising to their level?
Some of us have more barriers than others that we have to figure out
However, we all have 24 hours in a day, but we are all on different internal clocks
Everyone has different problems that they have to face
But everything is impossible until somebody does it
Okay, last pair
The classic running shoes
These remind us to keep on running, no matter your pace, nor your distance
Even though high school is coming to a close, we still have to keep going, moving forward
Our grad quote does not exemplify our pure wit
Because we are just starting
“G21 and done”? nah
We are no where near to being “done”
We are going to G21 and Run
G21 and On
We are going to go on and conquer this world with a pandemic acting as a handicap
I know who we are, we are the most ambitious, attractive, well-rounded, most intelligent people to ever come across this school
I can’t wait to find out how fast we run against our future
We are almost done our speed run of high school
And I am going to be honest, I think we will get a world record
Are you ready?
We are going to have to find ourselves all over again very soon
But look towards your future, running while looking back may seem nice at first but you may quickly fall
You’ve done hard work to apply to your future
So, my final message to all
The international students
Thank you for just being who you are and making others around you better
One thing that I always liked about G21 is that it sounds an awfully like you’re counting down from 3
So if you could be so kind and throw your caps in the air after I count down from G
Okay, *deep breath*
Throws hat in air
Congratulations, your life is waiting
Oh, and I almost forgot,
I have something to confess, I was the impostor, and it was not sus
Hopefully, this isn’t the last time we see each other
I am looking forward to seeing how successful you become, we all are
And one thing that I will suggest, is to never say goodbye
See you soon