Zoe De Jonge, HJC valedictorian, gives her address to grads at the grad ceremony on June 25. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)

Zoe De Jonge, HJC valedictorian, gives her address to grads at the grad ceremony on June 25. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)

HJC Valedictorian Address

Zoe De Jonge was named the valedictorian for the Class of 2021

Hello graduates, I would like to start off by stating one thing, we did it! We have successfully accomplished one of life’s biggest achievements while gaining some of the best rebuttals imaginable for future arguments. For some context, let me take you down a stroll through memory lane… it’s a Saturday morning and you’ve experienced a slight inconvenience in your life. Now, it is human nature to want to complain to individuals around you, and as you’re finishing your rant, those older than you in your life hit you with the, “well back in my day I had to walk uphill both ways to and from school,” and you’re left stumped due to the debilitation of your defeat. Well, ladies and gentlemen… we graduated during a Global Pandemic.

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the significance of that statement. We have placed both our feet on this stepping stone which has resulted in the illumination of several paths before us. The paths behind us may not have taken place in the hallways like most grads before us, but instead around our homes in isolation all while hoping our teachers did not call our names as we were lying in bed.

I am honoured to have been chosen to represent the graduating class of 2021 as your Valedictorian, and when I was presented with the task of curating a central message to share with all of you on this very special occasion, my mind was overwhelmed with one singular thought, “what would Mr. Hart do?” and based upon that thought, I have decided to delve down the metaphorical route of comparing our twelve years of school as a personal marathon. The connotation associated with marathons is somewhat mixed. For example some people love the long journey, enjoying every opportunity they can while progressing through each checkpoint, and others may just solely want to be done. Nevertheless, there is one unanimous agreement about marathons… crossing the finish line is the best part.

While it may seem like you’ve been running this race alone, there’s been a multitude of people in your life that have helped you transform into the person you are today. Without them, the likelihood of you sitting in the same seat that you are now diminishes. So in this moment I would like to thank all the individuals who have helped each and every one of us along the way of our journey. Thank you parents, teachers, coaches, grandparents, mentors, friends, google meet, and google classroom for they have left a permanent indent in our life odyssey that we are forever grateful for. Although some may not be here with us in person for this celebration their impact is still visible throughout this crowd.

Now don’t get me wrong, we all know that the finish line is not easily seen from the starting point, and sometimes life throws absolute wrenches in our paths in an effort to stump conventionalism. These wrenches may be in the form of a global pandemic that forces students to learn remotely, an inside joke involving a lost goose, or your soup spontaneously combusting unironically in chemistry… all equally impactful. Nonetheless, this generation has acquired the resilience to overcome adversity.

Despite our high school careers being somewhat unconventional, many things in life parallel that notion. There is no straight route in a marathon, and if I’m being honest, I’m not even sure where the word conventional can be applied in life other than maybe an oven. Those wrenches did not ruin our race, they created barriers that we overcame, and this day is a testament to that statement, and when I talk to future generations, I get to say that I graduated two years after experiencing an earthquake in central Alberta, during a school year where we experienced a week of negative forty degree weather, and our first ever red day (that was ruined by online school), OH, and don’t forget a year and a half long global pandemic.

So without further ado, I would like to personally congratulate each and all of you for winning your personal race, this moment is our finish line so enjoy it.

Thank you