Marin Clarkston, Edward Milne Community School

Since they were unable to make their speeches in front of all of their classmates, friends and family, we asked valedictorians — and one class historian — from south Island schools to share them with us. This is an excerpt from one of the submissions.

Marin Clarkston, valedictorian, Edward Milne Community School, Sooke

Next year: Studying at UVic to obtain a biochemistry degree, with a goal of attending medical school.

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When I was younger, before I started a book, I would always read the last page first. I wanted to make sure that I would be satisfied with the ending. I have come to realize that you can’t always do the same thing with life. We are in the final pages of our childhood and we can no longer flip to the last page to make sure we like the ending.

After 13 years of having a common goal, we are now able to write our own endings. The idea of that is quite daunting and we’ve all felt it. Yet we cannot let ourselves be burdened with the anticipation of our next ending, because if we do, we will skip blindly through our pages, ignoring the messages and not enjoying our stories.

Do not let yourself be pulled down by the fact that you may or may not know what you want to do at this point. And if you skim through chapters of your life to find an ending you don’t like: Write a new ending, start a new chapter. We don’t always have the ability to make sure that the last page is somewhere we want to end up, and for many of us it may be something completely different than what we had expected.

In a matter of months, we’ve had our worlds flipped upside down and our perspectives changed. We had no idea that that Friday before spring break would be the last time that the halls were filled with the echoes of our laughter. That it would be the last time for some of us to look into the smiling faces of the people we’ve spent the majority of our childhood with. Our stories were cut short. We didn’t get to say goodbye, we didn’t get the satisfaction of a clean ending. We didn’t get to feel the butterflies in our stomach as we crossed the stage, or stress about how to put on a corsage before prom.

But COVID didn’t ruin our grad year. We took 13 years to get here. Thirteen chapters of our lives — some of them happy, some of them not. Those memories can’t be discounted by the unfinished final lines.

So graduating students, take a moment to be proud of yourself that despite the cliff hangers and plot twists, you’ve made it to this very moment — this very moment where our lives take on a new beginning.

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