Class of 2008 Valedictorian Address

By: Kelsey Lilley

It was late one night in my dorm room – 1:17 am to be exact – when I finally began to put my ideas about this speech to paper. I had been attempting to do this for hours by this time, but seemed to be facing the hugest mental block I’d ever come across. And then I thought to myself – just write Kelsey. Write about the memories, the experiences, and the friendships – and that’s what I began to do.

I want to say a sincere thank you to the graduating class for giving me the honour of representing you, and your experiences as Glencoe Gaels. I really hope I can deliver an accurate summary of your years here, and maybe even remind you of a few forgotten memories. To the staff of GDHS – on behalf of the graduating class, thank you, thank you, thank you! It is because of you that we finally get to fill the front right section of the gym, and call ourselves graduates. Thank you for your inspiration, your leadership and your guidance.

And what would an address of appreciation be without the classic, “Thanks Mom and Dad!!” So, to all parents, grandparents, guardians, aunts, uncles, cousins, close friends…thanks for everything. Yes, even for making us get up for school after a late night at a concert, or forcing us to do our homework or study when our favourite TV shows were on. It didn’t kill us at the time, and, well, look at where we are now.

So, graduates, how about we do a little reminiscing? I know we all remember the first day of grade 9 – walking into the school through the back entrance, and pretty much trembling as we walked by “the spot” where all of the gr. 12s stood. We wondered, why do they stand there? For the same reason they sat at the front table in the caf – because they were in grade 12. It may have seemed strange to us then, but 3 years later, we finally clued in as some of us stood in that exact spot, ate at those exact tables, and realized, grade 12s really aren’t as scary as you think.

One of the first things I noticed about our school was the fact that every grade seemed to have a specific standing spot in the hall. I’m sure Mrs. Iutzi, Mr. Cooke, Ms. Humphrey, and Ms. Jakobi probably overheard a few too many grade 9 conversations that year, seeing as we took over the hall by their rooms, and declared it “niner’s hall”. I can also remember thinking, “wow, there are so many classes to choose from here!” – yeah there was a time when we thought it. I mean, coming from a school of 100 or 200 kids – Glencoe was MASSIVE!

I know those of you who desperately tried to get your required courses for college or university definitely realized that that’s not the case, but we stuck through it – too proud of our little school to abandon it for anything else. And the grade 9 courses we got to take were pretty cool to us – the music program was just in its beginning stages, and so many of us took advantage of the opportunity to expand it, and turn it into a great program. A lot of us had never had the chance to be in any sort of construction classes before, so when the tech students showed off the metal boxes, rings, and pens they had made, it was pretty impressive. We managed to fill 2 drama classes that year – I think we all had a little competition to see who could come up with the best idea for their marionette. Grade 9 was a great year for us. We really got to know each other. Led by our Gale and Galette (Cam and Brittany), we picked up on the Glencoe Gael spirit, which we had no problem showing off at Gale Force in the spring. Grade 9 was also the first time GDHS hosted the sporting event of the year – Walkermania! I still laugh to myself whenever I picture Laser Lasenby waddling (very quickly, I might add) across the finish line to take the very first title. Three years later he made his second Walkermania appearance as Matt McLean took him on in an intense race. Lasenby, once again, came out on top. What a champ! I’m pretty sure those trophies are still sitting on top of his blackboard. Now, I will be honest with you all when I say that grade 9 and grade 12 are the two years that I have no problem remembering.

The other two, grade 10 and 11, I have a little more trouble with. These two years flew by, and I think part of the reason they are such a haze to me is because we were doing so much learning. And when I say that, I don’t mean in a classroom setting, although there’s no question we also did that. What I mean is these were the years when we really learned what it meant to be a Glencoe Gael. For example, the older half of our graduating class got their G1 licenses in grade 10, and therefore, quite a few of us were fully equipped with our G2 licenses in grade 11. And what are the two best perks of having your license in Glencoe? 1.) You no longer had to walk in the freezing winter wind to get to the Gael’s hockey games, and 2.) You were always guaranteed a pretty good table at PV during lunch time.

Another quality of a Gael – picture this. You’re in class during period 2 and the clock is at 11:35. The person sitting in front of you turns around and says, “Hey, what day is it again?” What’s your response? All of the parents and family members sitting in the audience right now might not be following where I’m going with this – but all of you Glencoe Gaels probably know what you’d say – “chicken fingers or sub; cheeseburger or hotdog; caesar wrap or cheeseburger; ribwich or chicken burger; ham and cheese or cheeseburger”. We were like walking student lunch menus for the Villa, and anyone who needed a reminder of “what day it was” normally had no trouble finding the answer.

We were pretty good to each other like that – willing to help out anyone who needed it. And we did help a lot of people. At the time, we may not have realized it, but I’m sure we made a difference in many lives around the globe with all of the events that we took part in to raise money for various organizations. Relay for Life, The Terry Fox Run, Keep the Beat, Dance-a-Polooza, Trick or Treating for canned goods, and homeroom change challenges were just a few– and the list goes on.

We made a difference in the lives of others, as well as in the lives of our fellow classmates. The stories and memories, some of which I definitely cannot and will not explain up here tonight, will not be forgotten, and hopefully some day, 20 years down the road we’ll all be able to look back and just laugh. We never had any problems making each other laugh, and I’m sure that won’t change with time.

Even the staff members seem to know how to make us burst out laughing with their crazy musical assemblies and quick one-liners in class. Mrs. Iutzi, I will never forget the day you called Kevin Carlos. Or how about all of the lunches that we all sat and watched Mr. Wolfe and Arthur sneak up on one another and chase each other around the caf? One of the great things about being in such a small school is that we always seem to stick together – we all laugh together at spontaneous, random things (like when McLovin broke out the belly-wave on stage), and we all cry together during times of tragedy.

It’s nice to know you’ll never be alone in how you’re feeling, and that’s one thing I don’t think you would find in a large school atmosphere. Like I said, we were, and are proud of our little school. I’d like to leave you all with a quote. Now, the majority of us have heard this one before. It was spoken on June 13th, 2008 at our Prom, by Glencoe’s own, Kaleigh Elliott. “To the class of 2008 – We did it Gaels!” Although these words, that night, were followed by the most awkward slow clap I’ve ever been a part of, I think they pretty much sum up my message for tonight. Congratulations graduates – best of luck in whatever challenges you choose to take on in the future, and of course, thanks for the memories!

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