MUCC Class of 2019 Valedictorian address

Valedictorian Graydon Eskowich addressed the Class of 2019 at MUCC graduation ceremonies on Thursday, June 27.

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Good morning staff, parents, guests, friends, and most importantly, my fellow classmates. I am deeply honoured to be standing on this stage in front of you all,  representing this amazing group of individuals. Today marks a day that we have been looking forward to for an entire year, and some of us have been anticipating since we got here in grade 7.  Today is the day that we, as questionably qualified ‘adults,’  go out into the world and blaze our own trails. It’s a pretty big step to take, considering the fact that we’ve had up to six years in this place and some of us are still having to find ways to adjust. It’s going to be difficult at times, but the biggest thing we have going for us is that we’ve had the guidance of some incredible people along the way. So, first and foremost, to all the teachers, coaches, parents, and guardians that have been there for us when we needed it most, we are forever grateful. Personally, I’d like to thank my Dad for making my sandwiches for school almost every day since Kindergarten, and my Mom for checking my hair every morning, and making sure I get pictures at every awards night, band concert, drama production, and first day of school. Even though they’re both more popular with this group of kids than I’ll ever be and a part of me kind of detest them for that, I couldn’t have made it up here without them. Love you guys. I also have to give a shoutout to my two sisters Emily and Sadie, who gave me a ‘high school survival guide’ in grade 7 and drew me a map of MUCC back when I was too stupid to realize the hallways were essentially just a big square. So, to all those mentioned before, on behalf of our graduating class, we thank you for putting up with us for all these years, and we hope we’ve made you proud, at least once or twice.

As we celebrate our graduation today, apprehensive but eager to move forward into this next phase of our lives, it’s important that we reflect on the years we’ve spent here. To look back on the highs and lows of our time at MUCC that have made us who we are today, and have brought us all to this gymnasium together, one last time.

I was looking through our old yearbooks to kind of reminisce about experiences we’ve had in this school, and in between laughing at some truly embarrassing photos, it really made me think about just how much this place has helped all of us grow in so many aspects of our lives.

It seems like only a year ago most of us were showing up to the school for the first time, trying to disguise our sheer panic as we made our way to our homerooms while getting suckers practically shoved in our mouths by senior SAA members. Back in those days, we really thought we were the coolest- no longer stuck in the same building as the hyper little kindergarteners- we were in with the big kids now. We were ready to party, drive our own cars, spend the absolute buckets of money we were going to make from the jobs we would get, and do all the other awesome things that teenagers did. In reality though, those first months we felt more helpless and childlike than ever, and most of us resorted to awkwardly shoving ourselves onto the first two rows of tables in the cafeteria and stuffing our faces with Mr. Argent’s cinnamon buns and those amazingly greasy pizza subs. Looking back at those infamous grade seven yearbook photos, it’s really REALLY hard to imagine that we ever thought we could make it in the big school. But boy, do I ever admire the verve with which we tried to pull it off- especially all those boys who wore that truly lovely wispy bleach-blond hairstyle with full confidence.  Still, though the style choices may have been regrettable, it was a time of discovery for all of us. Through awkward social encounters and probably one or two or twenty-seven embarrassing moments, we slowly found our place in unfamiliar surroundings, which, ready or not, is an experience most of us are going to have to go through again as we move out into the world.

Next up on the wild ride of high school, we had Grades 8 and 9- or as I like to call them- the years that will be conveniently discluded from my autobiography. For some, elementary friends drifted further as we gradually mixed with the kids from other schools- even if the thought of making friends with anyone from Brunswick was against a Reynolds’ kids’ basic human principles at the time. With the safety net of our elementary friends slowly expanding, we began to find our groups, and started the terrifying process of stepping out of our comfort zones- joining sports teams or clubs, signing up for school events, and becoming louder and more ‘outspoken’ in the hallways. We bonded with each other through sugar-powered band tours and van rides to exciting places like Nipawin and Carrot River for sports events, and grew closer to new people by playing Minecraft in the computer lab during lunch hours. And, while some made new friends, for others, the wonderful world of high school dating became the number one priority. Oh, memories. It seems like almost yesterday certain people were giggling sitting up against the wall in the hallway, sharing their vending machine snacks as they tried to discreetly hold hands so as to not get in trouble for PDA. Seriously though, with all the 2 week relationships, for a while it was like one big, hormone-fueled game of musical chairs. Aside from the proverbial dating game, the war against poor style choices waged on. The go-to conversation piece on this front was the unspoken battle Calvin and I had over who could grow out their hair to its longest, most unflattering extent. Just saying, I’m pretty sure I won that battle.

But in that confusing time of puberty, embarrassment, and endless high school drama, we really did start coming in to our own, and discovered, even just a little bit, what we wanted to gain from our high school experience moving forward. And even if some of us didn’t find that affirmation until a while later, we all made very essential mistakes that will continue to influence our decisions, personalities, and our haircuts, for years to come.

By Grades 10 and 11, a lot had changed. Some familiar faces, favorite teachers, and old friends moved away to other places, but in their absence came new people that would make just as much of an impact. I’m sure all of us remember that frightening day in Mrs. Heavin’s science 10 class when Kyle showed up for the first time, intimidating everyone with his mountainous stature and actualfacial hair. As scary as that day was, it didn’t take too long for everyone to figure out he basically was, and still is, the human embodiment of a loveable and hyper puppy dog. On the topic of new faces, it’s kind of hard to ignore the splash of color that was Mr. Armstrong, who lept into room 206 the first day of grade 10, showering students with donuts and pancakes to boot. However, that ‘splash of color,’ (motion to hair) disappeared after only one and a half semesters of teaching English 10. To be fair though, with our grade I’m surprised all the teachers didn’t go bald from stress. Also by this time, our Grade 7 dreams were coming true, and all of us, except Dawson, were starting to become the big kids we always hoped we would be. That’s right, we were the kings and queens of our school, struttin down the upstairs hallway like it was our newly marked territory. All of a sudden, the fresh little energy-bundled grade 7’s that we once were,  became the bane of our own Monday morning pity parties while walking to first period. And there was always that one little kid, taking up half the hallway, making so much noise and walking so slowly that you felt like just- oh wait, no, that was just Mr. Aasen pushing along the laptop cart.

Needless to say, by those first secondary years, we had finally found our groove. We had a solid idea of who our friends were, found second families in sports teams or clubs like drama, got part-time jobs, and had tailored our class schedules to fit our slowly forming ideas of what we wanted to do with our lives. With this newly discovered sense of self, there was only one thing keeping us from getting too comfortable. That was the constant shaking, drilling, and banging coming from the construction on the roof of the school, raining dust from the ceiling tiles down on us as some of us just tried to sleep peacefully through our period 4 classes.

Then, finally, our senior year. Despite being an exciting year, it’s also been an incredibly overwhelming one, with the constant bombardment of university deadlines, scholarship applications, and literally every family relative or stranger seeming to ask: “what are your plans next year?” The classes were harder, and more exhausting than ever, and I’m pretty sure all of us, myself included, at some point relied on Olivia, Hannah or Mason to pass Physics, Pre-Calc, or History 30. I know for a fact there’s a very specific list of people that still owe Olivia an Iced Capp or other Tims’ treat. If I were you, I’d make sure you get that paid up, as soon as possible.

It hasn’t always been easy, and it seems like it has gone by in the blink of an eye, but yet this year has been filled with so many moments to relish and look back on fondly. Like our victory over the younger grades in the 12 Days of Christmas and Thursday Throwdown competitions. The completion of the glorious AP30 meme wall. Girls volleyball scoring silver at provincials. The senior classes and SAA coming together to collect thousands of pounds of food and potatoes for the food bank.  The senior girls’ making it to the Hoopla finals for the third year in a row, getting cheered on by the widest and wildest fanbase in the bleachers.  Team Drama receiving a magical standing ovation at their first-ever Provincials. And even just the little victories, like making it through Rogers’ History final without having a mental breakdown.

All those moments and more have been packed into an unforgettable year. And now, in what seems like way too short of a time, we’re sitting here today: nervous, excited, completely terrified, and filled with anticipation as to what tomorrow will bring.

And just like when we showed up here for the first time 6 years ago, as we go out into this next journey, it will be easy to get caught up in things that threaten to bring us down. But one of the wisest people I know has said time and again to “trust your training.” And that’s exactly what we need to do. Because- whether we were aware of it or not, these past six years we’ve been training for this day, for this moment- and for everything that lies beyond. So whether that training has come from teachers,  parents, classes, or from each other, have faith in it. There are going to be a lot of things happening for the rest of our lives that we won’t be able to predict, but if we rely on what we’ve learned and what those around have taught us, we might just make it. So in everything you do from this point on; be confident, even when making mistakes, and try and gain something new from every experience. Because whether we like or not, the learning doesn’t stop once we leave this building. If anything, it only grows more essential.

If I could give you one final sliver of personal advice before we all part ways, it would be to reach out to each other. Whether friends or not, we’re all connected through our shared experiences in this building, and that alone is a bond that can stand the test of time if we so choose. So whether it means stopping for coffee with someone once a year, just keeping in touch by text or social media, or sending each other memes to lighten the stress during university finals, find a way to lift up those around you. Because life is gonna be pretty tough for everyone at some point moving forward, and even the simplest word of encouragement or sign of appreciation from an old high school friend could be enough to raise their spirits, for even just a day. And that can make all the difference.

At this time, ladies and gentlemen, could everyone please direct their attention to the group of individuals seated to your left, because the time has come. MUCC graduating class of 2019, it’s here on this day, and this moment  that we collectively part ways and follow our own paths. As one journey ends, so another begins. So go out, do your thing, whatever it may be, and good luck. And so, with that, my fellow graduates, it is my honor to speak these three words to you, one last time: You. are. Dismissed!


-Graydon Eskowich, 2019 MUCC Valedictorian