Allow me to speak to one particularly memorable day spent with all of you. Valentine’s Day, 2014. Tradition has been that on Valentine’s Day every year, Grade 12s go see a movie in the afternoon. This year, instead of going to the cinema, we chose to go ice skating. Perhaps it was an effort to burn off all the chocolate and cinnamon hearts we ate that day. Among our many good qualities, we’re also health conscious.
With 145 students there were just enough skates to go around. Unfortunately, when I got to the kiosk they were out of girls figure skates in my size so I was encouraged to try boys hockey skates. Little did I know what a challenge skating in unfamiliar footwear would be. Once we finally tied our skates we headed out to the rink. I watched the rest of you on the ice, friends hand-in-hand gliding round the rink, guys playing hockey at the far end, others clustered by the boards chatting. I picked out Wilfrid, who is from Malaysia, on skates for his very first time stumbling along with friends. I pushed off the boards to go for a glide, and that’s when I realized I had no idea what I was doing.
I did my best penguin impression and thought I was getting somewhere when I found out Wilfrid was lapping me. Lapping! His first time on the rink he was doing better than me! What was more I kept hearing the whoosh whoosh of Jenn Park speed skating round the rink! I knew we were an accomplished class with many hidden talents but little did I know we even have speed skaters in our midst! Inspired by Jenn, I went for it. I pumped my legs and at last had the hang of skating. The day ended in the sweetest way possible when Isabella and Sunmin handed out candy bags.
Conveniently, the Grad 2014 skating trip has provided me with a metaphor for the St. Michaels University School experience as a whole. At the rink that day, we adjusted differently to the ice and, just like when entering Senior School, not all of us found our feet equally quickly. Being a SMUSdent is a balancing act in which we juggle academics, extra-curriculars, friends and evening prep, a task that rivals balancing on millimetre-thin blades of steel.
Thankfully, we have not been alone in our quest to master the metaphorical ice rink that is S-M-U-S. We have had loyal fans and stellar coaches. Our families prepared metaphorical thermoses of hot chocolate and warmed our metaphorical mitts in the dryer before driving us to the Richmond campus. They cheered from those metaphorical stands, coffee cups in hand. After a bad game of academic hockey, they’d assure us that the provincial exams were clearly rigged and next time we were sure to win. Our teachers could always be found at our metaphorical arena, bright and early, ready for us at 8:10 every day. They were the ones who spelled out new game plans, gave us two-minute penalties when we misbehaved and encouraged us to keep skating when our families weren’t around.
Our school has been a rink where we have been able to grow into individuals: scholars, athletes, musicians, comedians, loyal friends, coaches, learners and explorers. Gliding, playing, shuffling, falling, speeding round and round SMUS with all of you has been a pleasure. This has been our practice time, surrounded by friends, teachers, family. Today, we will untie our skates, hang our tuques (or grad caps), at the door. We will walk out into the daylight of a new arena: The big round world. I look forward to seeing what shoes we will fill, what skills we will acquire and who we will support along the way. Good luck in the big leagues!
The full speeches by valedictorians Lydia and Adam, as well as the entire ceremony are posted on SMUSTube.
You can also browse and download all the photos from the Grade 11 & 12 Closing Ceremony in the SMUS photo gallery. Individual photos of members of the Class of 2014 can be found by typing their full name (eg, Christopher Wedick) into the search bar.
New to the gallery? Read our guide to downloading images.