McMath Proudly honoured our Graduating Class of 2015 at the Valedictory Ceremony held at the Chan Centre at UBC. At the end of the evening, the 2015 Valedictorian was introduced. Quinn Toyoda.
Here is his Valedictory Address:
Valedictorian Speech by Quinn Toyoda
Good evening parents, staff, distinguished guests, and, of course, the stars of the evening, my fellow graduates.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak in front of you this evening.
Grads, it’s been 1 752 days, 42 048 hours, 2 522 920 minutes, or 151 375 200 seconds since our first day of high school and now, here we are, unified in our terribly fitted gowns with a square piece of cardboard on our heads. We made it. Well almost made it as I first get to take a few more minutes of your time speaking about the studies, the struggles and the stories of the class of 2015.
During our time at McMath, we have smiled together, laughed together, cried together, and occasionally, even learned together. The lessons taught by our amazing teachers will without a doubt be invaluable as we move forward in each of our lives. For example, Mr. Jensen taught us that if you raise your voice loud enough, people actually will listen! Ms. Chen proved that you can make a living as a professional story-teller, and Mr. Belonio modeled how to dress and fit in at high school.
However, let’s not kid ourselves and say that teachers taught us everything that we learned in these halls. We each have grown as individuals and seen our true-selves emerge from within as we've ventured through high school. We learned many things outside of the classroom.
In Grade 8, we quickly realized that the days of roller backpacks and having our own desk were over. Our beloved duotangs were replaced with binders and it was now our responsibility to make sure our work was done on time. The feeling of being a Grade 8 can best be described in the words of Monica Geller from Friends when she said, “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it!”
By Grade 10, we were exhilarated to no longer be known as “those annoying Grade 9s,” and, since we now saw grade percentages on our report card, we learned to hate the numbers 72 and 85. More significantly, the rotunda no longer seemed like a crime scene; strictly off limits. It was probably about this time that we started to contemplate life after McMath as we eased into our senior years.
By Grade 12, we learned that with great power, comes great responsibility. We were given not one... not two.... not three… but SEVEN electives. In turn, course selection became a time of frenzy as endless thoughts passed through our heads. You thought to yourself: I need three sciences, but can I really handle Mr. Scarr AND Mr. Brock’s dry, I mean wonderful, sense of humour? Or should I have fun with Mr. Fee? Or take yearbook with Sharma to discreetly insert numerous pictures of my face on every single page. However, we made it through the year and after conquering post-secondary application season, destroying our Grad Transitions Interview, and annihilating the English 12 Provincial, we realized that nothing is impossible with a little help from Starbucks.
For the past 5 years, we have each trusted in one another to get through difficult times. More than that, we have embraced our individuality and learned that following our passions and doing what we love is what matters most. It is because of this that I have the utmost confidence that each of you will become incredibly successful in the future. This may sound presumptuous, but I can say this with 100% certainty because we are all already successful.
My classmate Rachel K has worked as a professional wedding photographer, capturing moments in time for her clients which will be treasured and cherished for the remainder of their lives. Graduate Anthony D has dominated the lower mainland in athletics leading teams to victory in both volleyball and basketball while receiving countless MVP awards. Stephen B has been putting his mind and time to good use, starting work at a financial institution at just 17 years of age. Moreover, he has been teaching the art of chess to the next generation. And Andrea C has discovered and shared her incredible voice with the world having over 5 000 views on-line to her breath-taking rendition of “Latch.”
This is just a small sample of the amazing individuals who make up the Class of 2015 and each and every one of us has already experienced success in our lives.
Now that our time at McMath has finally come to a close, it is time for us to start thinking about the future and it is time for my speech to become somewhat sentimental and intermittently intellectual. Truth be told, when I sat down this morning to start writing this speech, I was unable to articulate what McMath meant to me. It was hard to imagine life without these overly-crowded hallways, irregularly-shaped classrooms, generally-caring classmates and fast-marking teachers. Well, most of them at least.
McMath became the origin on the coordinate plane of our lives. Athletics, academics, extra-curriculars, and friends filled our Quadrants one through four, but their value was always relative to our lives at McMath.
Alas, it is time for us to move forward. Graduation is one of the few times in our lives where we aren’t sure how we’re supposed to feel. At first, we are overwhelmed by happiness because after five long, relentless years of work, we have achieved a goal; we’ve walked across that stage, shaken Mr. Kamide’s hand, received our diploma, and said “Goodbye” to high school. But, it is exactly that: a goodbye. A goodbye to many friends, a goodbye to our treasured rotunda, and a goodbye to teenage freedom. However, we should not be moving on with sorrow or tears, but instead we should be thankful for what we have had. Winnie the Pooh once said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” and I know that we can all relate.
We truly have been blessed to have been given such an incredible school filled with such wonderful company. I know the memories that I have formed will be able to make me smile and laugh for years to come. Next year, my new peers at university will undoubtedly judge me for sporadically laughing as I reminisce over my high school adventures, but I won’t care because I’m proud to be a wildcat and you all should be too. All of the students and the staff in this room have contributed to creating an immense amount of school spirit which has made these years truly extraordinary. That being said, these should not be the best years of our lives because if staying up all night finishing a project, reading textbooks until your eyes cannot physically stay open any longer, and writing essay’s until your hands cramp were the best times of your life, then you are doing something tragically wrong. Grads, our best days are yet to come!
Now comes the time where I am supposed to give you advice for the future. Sadly, I know about as much in regards to the future as I do about relationships. Absolutely nothing. However, I can share the words of someone far wiser than I, Steve Jobs. He said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” I know that many of us in AP Calculus this year have listened to his advice and lived by one simple motto: In Mr. Cheng we Trust. Class of 2015, there are many dots in each of our futures and we each must find our own source of hope to genuinely believe that our dots will align.
Grads, we have had an amazing time at McMath but it doesn't stop here. Continue to reach for the stars and make sure to enjoy the view during the trip. Take advantage of life's endless opportunities and cherish each and every day as time has a tendency to fly by. Live your life so that many years from now, when our paths cross again, we won't be stuck in awkward silence, but instead will be fighting to share our own legendary stories.
At this time, I’d like to give thanks to those who have helped us become the people we are today. Thank you to Mr. Kamide, Ms. Goulas, and Mr. Charlton for keeping McMath a fully-functional high school for 5 years, despite all the chaos we have caused. Thank you to the counselors for neutralizing all of our conflicts; you truly are the acid to our basic problems. Thank you to all the parents for putting up with our constant need for attention and being our chauffeurs for 18 years. Last, but definitely not least, I'd like to thank all of the teachers at McMath. You've been our educators and our role-models, and now, you will become our Facebook friends.
If you remember only one thing from my speech, let it be the power and the importance of staying true to yourself; we simply must follow our heart and be driven by our passions. With that, I'd like to share one final quote from Dr. Seuss: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than you.” Class of 2015, the time has come for each of to embark on our own journeys so I bid you all a fair, farewell. The world is ours to explore, ours to discover, and ours to conquer.
Congratulations Grads, we made it!