A portion of Notre Dame’s Class of 2016 celebrating at the end of Tuesday evening’s graduation ceremony. (Supplied photo/Kevin Grand)
Valedictory Address By Raj Patel, Notre Dame College School, Class of 2016
Reverend Father, Elected Trustees, Members of the Senior Administration, Honoured Guests, parents, families, friends, Administration and Staff of Notre Dame College School, fellow graduates of 2016.
It’s been a long week graduates, and after all the countless hours of studying and stressing over exams, we have finally made it! We are officially graduates of Notre Dame College School, and for this you all deserve a round of applause.
Valedictorian Raj Patel with Notre Dame principal Ralph DeFazio. (Supplied photo/Kevin Grand)
Now before I start my speech, on behalf of the entire student body I would like to say thank you to the administration for always guiding us through the highs and lows, to the teachers for making education enjoyable and to our parents for always being there for us. Without you, none of us would have made it this far, and I certainly would not be literate enough to deliver this speech!
At this time I would also like to acknowledge the four other Valedictorian nominees: Shirley Andrews, Krista Gowan, Aidan Harold and Ryan Modafferi. Congratulations – you are all exceptionally gifted and talented students.
Looking back to grade nine, it feels like it was just yesterday that we first put on our highly fashionable ‘Dame’ uniforms. For four years our uniforms have defined us. In them we learned: science, math, English, but most importantly, life lessons from Mr.Lavalle ( who taught us that life is just common sense and that if it makes sense, it makes sense).
Now as we are ready to take off from Notre Dame, I am not ashamed to say that I will miss the uniform – it was nice especially if you’re like me lacking a sense of fashion.
High school has offered us so many memories: There was your first class, your first locker, your first dance, your first crush….your second crush?….and then your figuring out that you were the problem!!!! Indeed we have all faced many challenges at ND, but through it all we have grown as individuals both physically and mentally. Over the years we have gained countless friends on the field, the court, the rink, the stage, the computer lab, in our classes and in those halls ….some friendships that will truly last a lifetime.
By Grade 12, Notre Dame has quickly become our second family and it has taught us more than just math or science; it has also taught us how to live our lives. From the Pilgrimage, to the food drives, to the multicultural assemblies, Notre Dame has shaped us into more than just educated human beings; we have become compassionate and faith-filled individuals. We have learned the true meaning of empathy and caring for others and we are better human beings for it.
In all of this, we have had a Catholic education and amazing teachers and staff, who have continuously shown that we all have the potential of doing great things. We all came to Notre Dame knowing little of what we would become, or what we would accomplish, but from these four years we are leaving knowing who we are, and that is a gift to be treasured and remembered.
William Shakespeare and Channing Tatum once said, “Be not afraid of greatness, some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
While we may not be born great or have greatness thrust upon us, we always have the opportunity of achieving greatness. As we leave this graduation ceremony, I urge you to remember that all of our social, religious and political leaders and role models have started right here , just as “average” high school students.
While we may think we are average, we must realize that the average can achieve greatness and that no matter who you are, we all are capable of doing great things. These past four years at ND have equipped us with immeasurable knowledge and experience. Whether you are heading to university, to college, to the military or into the work force, I invite you to strive to be the best version of yourself you can be, and without question, you will achieve greatness.
Good luck, Class of 2016, on your journey towards greatness.
Thank you all for your time and I wish you all from the bottom of my heart, the very, very best.
(Address delivered Tuesday, June 28 at Notre Dame’s commencement, Welland Arena.)
(Editor’s Note: I am interested in posting valedictory addresses from other Welland schools. Please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org)