Stacia Panko and Tyson Braaten, the valedictorians for Clearwater Secondary School’s graduation class of 2017, present their speeches during commencement ceremonies at the school on Friday evening, June 23. Photo by Keith McNeill

Valedictorians talk about the past and the future

Stacia Panko and Tyson Braaten are valedictorians for the Clearwater Secondary School grad class

The following is the valedictorian speech by Tyson Braaten:

Good evening students, teachers and guests.

I’m gonna be honest here. You probably have heard this speech before, since I stole this off the Internet … as was all of my English work through school. What a time to be alive. I can’t English very well.

But anyways, let’s talk about my grad class. Not sure how half these kids made it to this point, but hey we’re all here right!? And, surprise, surprise! Even me.

Growing up with you guys has been pretty okay, I guess. We have had classes together for 12+ years … there’s ponies, studs and “donkeys,” right Julien?

Everyone here has had their ups and downs but everyone powered through it. It’s been a good time and I will honestly miss you guys. I sincerely hope everyone here does great in life.

As you all know it is Mister Buck’s last year. I told him, “BUCK, you are not allowed to leave until I do.”

And thanks for listening to me, Sunshine!

You will be missed by everyone here. But they will no longer have to listen to, “Nooooo, what are you doing??!! Get out of here!!” (shakes fist) (kicks you in the butt).

I’m sure kids will miss this. I know I will!

Every day is another brick on the wall. You continue building – up down, sideways. In every direction, always learning from mistakes and building off of them.

Not sure how long these speeches are supposed to be … but I’ll decide!

Congratulations, grad class of 2017! Hope you guys will take the skills you have learned in school and put them to work. I know school gave me two skills, “This one and this one … pair of skills.”

And this was followed by Stacia Panko’s valedictorian speech:

Good evening students, teachers and guests. We’re gathered here today to celebrate the CSS grads of 2017 crossing the finish line of a five-year long journey through high school.

It’s amazing to think that we’ve finally reached this day. All of my fellow classmates and I have come so far from Kindergarten to those first awkward days in Grade 8. Since then we’ve written now-extinct provincial exams, run the 12-minute run in P.E class, which by the fifth minute is far too much running, and are now sitting here with you today, ready to take on the next challenges that life brings us.

This is the part where I was going to say something about grit, but I decided not to. 😉

Our success can be largely credited to the support and hard work of the many caring adults around us, including our parents, guardians, teachers, coaches and other mentors in our lives. I don’t think that any one of us can say that we have reached this point without some help.

These are the people that have been with us the whole way and have encouraged us to try hard and achieve high. At times, it could be difficult to find the motivation within ourselves to keep working, but all it would take was someone seeing our potential and guiding us towards it to get us back on track.

That is what these caring people have done for us time and time again, and for that we thank you.

And grads, I think we should also thank our friends and each other. It’s hard to imagine having the same level of success without the help of our friends and peers.

They’ve been our first line of support during all of our problems, whether is was when we were struggling in a class and need someone to study with after school, when we were low on cash and needed someone to buy us Tim’s, or when we just needed someone to talk to.

I think it’s safe to say that many of our peers have been friends when we needed them and, no matter how different we are and how varied our futures will be after this, we should all feel lucky to have had such a supportive group of classmates to take this journey with.

So again, thank you. It’s also been a pleasure to have had the teachers and staff at CSS help us through our high school experience. They have provided us with a solid foundation as we move forward onto the next stages of our lives, whether or not that includes going back to school.

There are many important skills that we’re taught in high school that prove valuable later on in life. I think many of these graduates can attest to this and we thank you for your contribution.

And to the teachers out there that are moving on to bigger and better things next year, thanks for sticking it out with us until the end, we really appreciate it.

So as I wrap this up I want to reiterate how grand of an accomplishment this is for all of us graduating tonight, and how exciting it is to be moving onto a new part of our lives.

The next steps will be daunting, but I think all of us have the skills and the support we need to give it a try, because that’s what life’s all about, and the only {real} failure is the failure to try.

Thank you everyone, and congratulations to the CSS graduating class of 2017!