Valedictorian Speech, Conary Coyne, Notre Dame College School Class of 2015, Wednesday, June 24.
Good evening family, friends, guests, faculty of Notre Dame and fellow graduates. I am truly honoured and humbled to have the privilege to represent the amazing graduating class from Notre Dame College School in 2015.
Congratulations! We made it! The last four years together have been an amazing journey and on behalf of all the graduates I would like to extend a thank you to all of those who have touched our lives and helped to guide us along the way. First off, I’d like to thank the big man himself, our principal Mr. DeFazio. The memories of the accordion-playing leprechaun and the man who became like a father to us, will remain in our hearts for the rest of our lives. To our VP’s, Mr. Belcastro and Mrs. Quinn-Boyer, our teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, chaplain, the Holy Cross Fathers, secretaries, caretakers and all the staff who worked tirelessly to make Notre Dame a second home for us, thank you. And to you, our parents and family members, for all the sacrifices you have made to raise us to the people we are today. We would not be here without all of you. Thank you.
We are here to celebrate our milestone of graduating high school and the journey that we have been on together for the last few years. For many of us, high school has been the best years of our lives. For others, this journey has come with many challenges and difficulties. But we are all coming out of this together, as one graduating class. Our experiences have shaped us into the people that we have become today, and Notre Dame has become an integral part of our lives. Our Catholic faith and teachings have molded us into upstanding citizens, with strong moral consciences and who are always there for one another.
Four years ago, we entered Notre Dame as baby-faced, naïve children, awestruck by the seniors towering over us, the crowded maze of hallways, the pressure of having to write exams for the first time. And now, in just a blink of an eye, we are sitting here together, decked out in cap and gown, as graduates. We have been through a lot together on this journey. Whether it be through academics, athletics or clubs, we have enjoyed numerous experiences that have bonded us into a tight-knit family. We bled blue and gold as we worked together in the class room, as we gave it our all on the sports fields, as we hit the slopes with ski club, as we performed in the musical, as we solved intricate math problems for Mathletes, as we challenged our brains through chess, Reach, or other clubs. We worked together to instill the Catholic faith teachings and invoke social justice through the Pilgrimage and the Walk Against Male Violence. Under the guidance and influence of Catholic educators, we were able to create a strong faith community that promoted the dignity and acceptance of all. Notre Dame has a great deal to offer and we all found our own individual niches and flourished within them, but when put together we became something even greater. Together we have learned new skills, discovered new interests, developed long-lasting friendships. We have learned how to live as a Catholic citizen in the global community and we have become a part of the undeniable Fighting Irish tradition.
I have mentioned a number of times that our four years together at high school was a journey, and it truly was. To help me with this, I have brought along a familiar face. For those of you who do not know the goose that is now on my head, I will provide a quick back story. Following our graduation prom, we gathered as a class for one of the final times, and I brought along six of these geese that quickly became a hit amongst the graduates. However, these geese are much more than some crazy thing to wear on your head. In fact, they epitomize our journey together, our journey as students of Catholic education and our future journeys through life.
When geese migrate, they fly in a V-formation and take turns leading the way and breaking the wind for their flock mates. They would never be able to complete their journey on their own, they need the support and co-operation of every member in the flock. We are not graduating today as 263 individuals, but we are graduating as one. We were on this journey together, and we all helped to carry each other through it. We were all pivotal members that displayed loyalty, camaraderie, compassion and teamwork as we worked together towards graduation. The memories and friendships that we have created together as classmates on this journey will last for all of our lifetimes. Graduates, look to your left and to your right, look around this arena at all of our classmates and all of the wonderful people that came here to support us tonight. We could not have made it here without them, and they could not have made it here without us. Our journey has been shaped by all of the characters and loving people in our lives.
When a goose gets sick or injured on their journey, a healthy one will stay behind and nurse it back to the group. Whenever one of us were down or struggling through the difficulties of high school life, there were numerous faces to turn to for support. As a class, we never let our friends or classmates fall behind because we were all on this journey towards graduation together. The Notre Dame family can be likened to Mary Stevenson’s famous poem about a person is walking with God through the sand as their life flashes before them. However, during the most difficult times in their life, they can only see one set of footprints, because God is carrying them. Whenever we struggled through our journey, we were not only carried by God, but we were carried by our classmates, family and teachers as well. God was the guide and together we travelled on His back and on the backs of us all.
As we move on in our separate ways, no matter what they may be, remember that all of life is a journey and in order to make it through, we need to support those in our lives and be supported in return. A journey is not a solitary trek, but rather a group effort as we all strive to achieve our goals and share them with others.
We will never forget this four-year journey through high school and the amazing bonds we formed together. We will forever be Fighting Irish. Nobody can take these memories and this tradition away from us. Congratulations Class of 2015 and together let’s all say this with me. We are…!