Valedictory Address by Kwame Bonsu
Welcome honoured guests, teachers, families, friends, well-wishers and fellow graduates. Today, I’ve been honoured with the privilege of being the voice of Miles Macdonell Collegiate’s 62nd graduating class, the class of 2014. Here we are: graduation. A day we’ve looked forward since birth. The biggest milestone in our lives so far, our first step into the real world. It all began in the early 2000’s, the beginning of our tumultuous journey through the education system, when our biggest challenge was figuring out how mixing the colours red and yellow could possibly make orange, and how 2 + 3 could equal 5. Fast forward 14 years, and here we are, sitting in this concert hall, patiently waiting to receive our diplomas. In September, we entered the school as seniors, and without realizing it, everything we did was our last. Our last pep rally, our last season with a sports team, our last school dance. We realize that we could have waited to get older and that that time has somehow slipped away and now we’re saying goodbye. We leave Miles Macdonell Collegiate with a sense of Direction, hunger for exploration, a demand for inclusion and a core of compassion instilled in our hearts. Although we’ve each taken different routes to get here, we’ve all ended up on the same path; the path to success.
I’m pleased to have the opportunity to thank the staff of Miles Macdonell Collegiate for their guidance and wisdom. Teachers, we’re fully aware that we made your jobs 10x harder with our overdue assignments, our frequent talking during lessons and coming late to class, but you never gave up on us. You continued to challenge us and inspire us to become better, smarter, more compassionate individuals. Thank you also to the secretaries, the administration, student services, the educational assistants, the custodians and all other staff members as well for their unwavering support. For the past three years, you have dedicated countless hours of your time towards academics, sports teams, school trips, clubs and many more to truly enhance our high school experience and for that, we are forever grateful.
Perhaps the most important thank you goes to the people who gave us life, the people who sacrificed whatever they could to assure that their child had the best life possible. Our parents and guardians. You’ve been with us since day one, nurturing our curiosity. Thank you for being our chauffeurs, our chefs, our therapists, and our biggest cheerleaders. You’ve always given us the hard truth, even when we didn’t want to hear it, pushed us to reach our full potential, and allowed us to have a little fun along the way. We hope that you continue to pass your wisdom down to us, even as we grow up and start to build our own lives.
To my fellow graduates. I’d like to congratulate each and every one of you on becoming high school graduates. I understand the road has certainly not been an easy one. We’ve all had our tough, embarrassing moments whether it be accidentally walking into the opposite sex’s bathroom, falling up the stairs on multiple occasions, or spilling a plateful of fries all over the floor in front of a packed cafeteria. Unfortunately, I have done all three. But here, today, all of those little moments seem so small and unimportant because today, we celebrate our victories. Understand that you are each talented, intelligent and courageous individuals. Don’t let anyone distract you from your goals, just because they may seem unachievable to them. A quotation courtesy of Nike: “Somehow we’ve come to believe that greatness is only for the chosen few, for the superstars. The truth is, greatness is for us all. This is not about lowering expectations; it’s about raising them for every last one of us. Greatness is not in one special place, and it’s not in one special person. Greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it.” I look forward to being able to say that I went to high school with the person who cured cancer, a 4-time Oscar winner, or even a future Prime Minister of Canada, because those are the type of people that graduate from Miles Mac.
I leave you today with The Rules of Being Amazing by Robin Sharma. “Risk more than is required. Learn more than is normal. Be strong. Show courage. Breathe. Excel. Love. Lead. Laugh. Cry. Innovate. Simplify. Adore mastery. Release mediocrity. Aim for genius. Stay humble. Be kinder than expected. Deliver more than is needed. Exude passion. Shatter your limits. Transcend your fears. Inspire others by your bigness. Dream big but start small. Act now. Don’t stop. Change the world.” I am truly honoured to be a part of one of the greatest graduating class Miles Mac has ever had. This is your moment. Cherish it. Embrace it. Congratulations and farewell, Class of 2014.