Students, staff, friends and family members celebrated the milestone of high school graduation together on June 28th at Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus.
Featured during the ceremony were a tribute to parents, a look back via a class history and speeches from this year’s valedictorian and the president of the Students’ Union.
”As the valedictorian of 2019 I thought I would take this opportunity to talk a little bit about failure and success,” said this year’s valedictorian Jenny Munholland according to speech notes.
“In my experience failure is a word generally considered to have a negative connotation; today I hope to challenge that idea. As a society we tend to celebrate those who have achieved greatness, which is understandable, but what is easy to forget is that behind every great success are many failures.
“No scientist who discovered something new understood what they were looking at the first time. In fact, many scientists we consider to have been successful were completely incorrect in their predictions. As we now know an atom is not comparable to a plum pudding, however, we still celebrate J. J. Thomson as a pioneer of his field.”
She pointed out that although it is easy for people to look at others and recognize their success, it is more difficult for many people to recognize triumph in their own lives.
“As we go through life, people may try to steer you in a direction that they view as success. I urge all of you to not be swayed by the expectations of others. This will only lead you to believe you are a failure because your idea of success is being overshadowed by the ideals of others.
“If you love what you do and how you are living, you will never be a failure,” she said. “It is only when you decide to give up, or live by someone else’s definition of success will it appear that you have failed. It is my opinion that failure is not a lack of success but simply an opportunity to try something new.”
Munholland, who is also Student Union president, said that not only is the world filled with endless possibilities, but that with the possibilities come uncertainty.
“During our years here at William E Hay everything was laid out for us year after year. Our lives were built upon a set of rules, and we followed them, most of the time.
“Now with our diplomas finished and the last tears shed over Lotoski tests, our lives are open to endless paths.”
Munholland also said she wanted to take the opportunity to invite her peers to take the ’road less travelled’ as famed poet Robert Frost would say.
“We are not our parents although they have raised us, we are not our friends although we have shared memories with them, we are only ourselves. We have to live with ourselves, and the choices we make will shape the lives we all choose to lead.
“The decisions we make, although our own, almost always affect other people,” she said. “I hope that in a world so often filled with anger and hatred, that we as the graduating class of 2019 will choose to show kindness and understanding.”
Munholland also explained that although it may be impossible to know what the future holds, “Each and every one of us has the potential to make an impact in whatever we decide to pursue.
“Although you might not hear about our actions on late night talk shows and although we may never be interviewed by Ellen, this does not mean that our actions are meaningless or insignificant.
“It is often that small acts of kindness can make an immense difference in someone’s life. We as young adults are the foundation of a new generation that has been tasked with taking care of the earth and everyone in it. As our parents have before us we must now take on the responsibility of shaping the future.
“Congratulations to the Class of 2019 and I hope you will all take the road less travelled by, because that can make all the difference.”