Medea Torgerson, Ballenas Secondary

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.

Medea Torgerson, valedictorian, Ballenas Secondary, Parksville

Next year: Taking a gap year to work and possibly travel. After that, I plan to study psychology.

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My fellow graduates, as we have all come to know after a few months in quarantine talking with our teachers, family and friends on Zoom and Houseparty, this is no ordinary senior year.

Graduating in the midst of a pandemic has taught us to not only keep a tight grasp on the high school memories that we were able to make, but to not take those memories for granted. We are not in full control of our experiences.

If I were able to give my young, naive, 13-year-old self any advice going into high school — although I probably wouldn't listen — it would be to not rush through the last precious moments that we have together because we only ever realized what we have until we no longer have it. This is what real life will be like. We will not always have control over our lives. We need to make the most of what we have and find joy in any scenario.

As we hold onto these memories we must remember to continue moving forward. Although our closure is unique (who knew we would have a drive-thru commencement ceremony), here we stand, our futures ahead of us with boundless opportunity. There will be many milestones in our lives that we can celebrate. Right now we must move forward, with resilience and hope. This experience will unite us and prepare us for our futures.

This next phase of our lives will be an important one. This is the time where we gain true independence and individuality. Within this next decade many of us will be graduating post-secondary, travelling the globe (if we can), getting married, some will be having kids, and so much more.

We are taking a huge leap into adulthood, something we dreamed about as kids, but now seems so intimidating. With this step comes much more responsibility that is now ours. Are we ready? After growing up with this class for the past 13 years, I know full well that we will take it in stride.

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