Paige Murray, Claremont 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.

Paige Murray, valedictorian, Claremont Secondary School, Saanich

Next year: Attending UVic to study earth sciences and environmental studies.

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The other day I was talking to my mom about my speech and what life is like these days for students. We agreed that today’s student is ridiculously stressed. Our stress levels are astronomical and I think a lot of it stems from how hesitant we are to make mistakes. So many of us, myself included, are terrified of the possibility of messing up.

But what many of us fail to realize is that if we don’t make mistakes, then how the heck are we supposed to learn and grow? Like Stephan Hawking said: “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist… Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.” Now, if Stephan Hawking, one of the smartest men to ever live, said this, we’ve got to believe it. I’m sorry, but it’s just the truth.

In all seriousness though, we often forget or get too busy to try new things, let loose and enjoy life. Sure, we’ve got to work hard and do our best, but that doesn’t mean we should stay in our comfort zones. So what if we fail a test, or mess up a new recipe, or even end up on a different path than the one we always planned to take! The important thing is that we try new things and don’t give up easily.

Even if we mess up big time, we’ll learn and become better people because of it. Not in spite of it. Think of it this way: What if Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Micheal Collins had been too scared to take their first steps onto the Apollo 11 spacecraft?

I want to challenge my fellow graduates to do something new or something that scares them a little, because I know that this diverse group of young people, who I would turn to and look in the eyes right now if they were on stage with me, is capable of amazing things.

It won’t be easy, but we’re used to that. So now go and do your version of taking your first steps onto the spacecraft, and ultimately the moon. Like Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus said: “Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy.”

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