My Son’s Grade 8 Valedictorian Speech – June 2011

Valedictorian Speech

By: Fraser Kirk

Life: we all start at the same spot. When we first looked into the eyes of our parents they saw a brilliant aura, we were bonded by unconditional love. It continued as we made our first sounds, our first words. It continued to grow as we learned to crawl and eventually walk. We were infants, toddlers, then young children and now grade 8 graduates. Although, we stand here tonight looking very similar, we are actually all very different.

You could kinda say we are like trees in a forest. Started from a small seed that develops into a twig.
The twig gets bigger and looks like a young sapling, then a young tree, and soon spreads it’s branches like a Willow tree, or maple tree. Trees and forests also have a brilliant aura. Each one is unique and very beautiful in their own way. We just have to slow down and observe it.

They are spectacular and posses unique characteristics once they are all grown up. But the journey for a tree to reach and soar to great heights is not always easy.

Sometimes trees have to live in the shadow of others, and this may affect the growth of these trees.
Yet, the nature of the forest is to keep rising, continue to grow and maybe one day to look over the top of the forest. A tree with strong roots, a great base, and foundation has a great future. Elementary school has provided us with these roots, our parents have watered us with love and we too have started on our path to reach towards the sky and for our future.

Similar to us, each tree will be different. Some branches will extend further or some will be stronger. Some will love the winter and some will prefer the heat, some tall and some small. Thick ones or thin ones they all belong.
Although these differences exist, there is one constant – roots. I believe that our roots were built by our wonderful elementary school – CRB.

When we move on to high school, we to, will begin to grow differently just like a forest full of trees. Some of us will get taller ( I hope), some of us will stay together and some of us will venture off in new directions. All, will branch off in different ways; forward, backwards, left, right, up, down we will all head in directions every which way you can think of.

In high school, you can pick your classes, start to choose the path you want to take and the knowledge you want to gain. You’ll hopefully get excited about the endless possibilities and start to decide where you want to go in life. It seems overwhelming – but at the same time exciting.
Each one of us will begin to evolve like a tree, we will soar to new heights and begin to reach out in all different directions.

One of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read say’s “You have brains in your head. You have feet in you shoes. You can steer yourself, in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU’RE the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Amazing how inspirational a children’s Dr. Seuss book can be eh? All joking aside, this passage re-enforces the fact that you have the basic knowledge, CRB gave us our roots and high school will help us decide what type of tree we really want to be.

Dr. Seuss reminds us when he says “I’m sorry to say so, but, sadly, it’s true, that Bang-ups, and Hang-ups, can happen to you.”
With all this exciting talk about what lies around the corner for us, and the potential for success in the future, we must remember that we would be fooling ourselves to think that something won’t go wrong along the way. I mentioned earlier how it’s like being shadowed by a larger tree in the forest. You will at times struggle to find the light that guides you. In an overcrowded forest some trees struggle to find water. But in life you will always have two choices; you can give in to this pressure, give up, and stop your growth, or, you have the choice to push to new heights, and grow 3 times the size of the other trees. It is up to you.

Dr. Seuss says “All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone will be something, you’ll be quite a lot.” We may feel at times we are all alone. It’s true, taking a step into high school will reveal that you are now all on your own. You and your friends will not all pick the same subjects, they will begin to develop different interests. But, now that I think about it, not all trees are found in the forest – some stand alone. They to are strong and have a unique identity. Your journey and development continues after high school. Some of us will enter the work force, some to college and some to university. So we will all have to learn what will be best for us. But I think I am getting ahead of myself, after all, we are graduating from grade 8.

I am confident that we will all find our place in the forest. We are all good at something and high school will help us find it. If you don’t believe me then Dr. Seuss say’s “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! 98 and 3 quarters guaranteed.” It may be in sport, or a subject. We may join a group or choose to travel and help build homes in third world country’s. Some of us may actually meet our future wife or husband – isn’t that right Mom and Dad.
If you try different things you are bound to uncover something that you feel passionate about.

Promise me that once you do find your thing, be the tree that wants to soar to the top – it will be easy to find enough people to discourage you from shooting to the stars – so try not to discourage yourself.

I want to be in the NHL when I’m older. And everybody is going to say, “Well, you’ve got to shoot a little lower in order to be successful”. You can lower your standards, and make it easier to reach your goals in life. But, then you will remain the tree that does not have enough light to soar. How do you think every professional athlete started on their path? With a dream. Just like all of us. Maybe someone will be the next, John Lennon, Oprah or Bill Gates. Remember, the easiest part of following your dreams is saying it. Remember, the easiest part of following your dream is saying it. Just because you want something doesn’t mean you instantly get it. Futures can not be bought at the local grocery store. I have a little story for you – My Dad read this and said that statement wasn’t true because we have politicians. You need to decide, commit, then succeed. Along with this you must NEVER doubt yourself. I was once reminded that – generally those who tell you that you can’t do something, it’s because they couldn’t do it themselves.
If you don’t believe me, then listen to the quote from the true story of a man who had nothing and went on to be a very successful business man. The movie is called The Pursuit of Happiness. The scene is just after the father tells his son not to waste his time shooting hoops and try to become a pro basketball player. The father reminds him that he can only be as good as him and he wasn’t very good. The young boy hears his fathers words and dejectedly throws the ball down.
The Dad reflects on his words and says “You got a dream, go out and get it. Don’t ever let somebody tell you, you cant do something, even me.”

Think of the words of one of the greatest boxers of all time, Mohamed Ali, when he says “He who has no imagination, has no wings”. All successful people started the same way. They went to elementary school, just like us. Then they made a series of choices to get them to where they are today. HHHHHHHMMMMMMMMM, all of us, are graduating from elementary school. So we are well on our way.

Well it’s not that simple. Most professional athletes are not just given their abilities to play professional sport. They had to work very hard at it. Just like each and every one of us.
Whether you want to be a teacher, pilot, start your own business, work towards a math scholarship to Harvard, or work to get to the NHL. Hard work is required. If you want to get to those high levels, you’re going to have to understand, other people want them to. They are going to try and get 1 more % then you on a math test. Or 1 more push up in a hockey training session. So you gotta want it. You are going to have to be passionate in your pursuit of your dreams.
I say, let the games begin.

Now I know we are all really eager to go dance with our parents but if you just bare with me for a couple more minutes, I wrote a poem
Some trees are tall, some trees are small.
Others have dreams to someday overlook them all
But one thing every tree has, compared to the rest
Is the one opportunity in life, the life test
Some will be successful, and leave others in plead
Plead for success, a helping hand indeed
Although the successful ones could leave them behind
They soon find, that they don’t want to leave them behind
Because what good is it, to do what was once done to you
And leave the whole forest in shadows, no, that would be cruel

For all trees to grow strong and tall
For happiness to find ALL
Although, this may seem unlikely, because some trees will not want to join the rest
“I don’t need a group,” they might think this idea is best
It is your decision for what traits you want to attain
Hard working, individuality, determination, just remember to sustain
For it’s these traits that get you places in life
Some will help you like spreading butter with a hot knife

Others may not, like shoveling rocks with a square shovel
And in this case, your going to have to find a way to get out of this trouble
You can take advice from your best friends, Timmy and Tom
You can also trust your family, like your dad or your mom
In the end it’s your life, so you should decide
Decide which path you want to stay on, while your alive
You could be a doctor, teacher, or come to the NHL with me
Just find something that you love, that is the key

You’ll find what you love, whether it’s under your nose, or carved in wood
Then you’ll take action, and think “WOW. Life is good.”

Wow, thinking back to writing that poem, it took me 3 weeks of hard work, trying to include every important point that speaks to me. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for Dr. Suess to have written a whole volume of books.

Just as I mentioned earlier we start at the same place. We develop our roots, just like a tree and then begin to grow. Although we may all seem similar each one of us is special and unique on the inside. I hope every time you see a tree you will remember to strive to new heights.

I know I told you we all started from the same place and now I will let you know that we will all end at the same point.

It’s what we do in the middle that makes us who we are.

(Step away from podium)
(step back up to podium)

If I could just have one more moment of your time please….
In honor of the class of 2011, I’d like to present this tree to Mr.Frankovich to be planted on CRB grounds. To help us remember the great class of 2011.

14 thoughts on “My Son’s Grade 8 Valedictorian Speech – June 2011

  1. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children.

    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.”
    She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit
    crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

    1. It’s a cute story! Great lesson for all parents – sometimes we think we know it all – and it comes back to bite us – literally. Thanks for sharing.

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