Valedictorian Speech – Class of 2020

Dear Mr. Smith, teachers, parents, guests and fellow students,
1 believe it is safe to say that we have found ourselves in a rather unique position this year. We are a graduating class that hasn’t written exams, hasn’t had prom, abistreich or even a regular graduation ceremony. Many of us are still torn between thinking we are the luckiest grade 12 in history, or the unluckiest. But there are a few considerations I would like to share with you in that regard.
To begin with, the IB (International Baccalaureate) is indeed a two year course. The exams are really only a test of your knowledge, but when it comes to the subject matter, you should have learned everything you need in the last two years. At least, that’s the theory. So, from that angle, we are very lucky. In most of our subjects we had managed to complete the whole syllabus, or at least most of it, before exams got cancelled. Therefore, we haven’t missed out on any of that vital wisdom our teachers wished to impart on us before we left LIS for good. But, as Mr. Allen is always quick to remind us, school is more than just a place of learning. It is the place where most of us met our closest friends, and where we have so far -I hope – spent the majority of our time.

There has always been quite the variety of after school activities to help pad our CAS portfolios, from GISST to Big Band to Drama. Here again, I consider us to be fortunate for not having to miss out on a lot of these activities.
It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, however. I’m sure we’ve all daydreamed – or maybe even properly dreamed – of that glorious moment where we walked out of our last exam, thus finally ending the pain and suffering of the international baccalaureate in one happy sigh of relief. We’ve all imagined the parties we would hold, the friends we would hug and the teachers we would shake hands with – but we have not had the privilege of experiencing that feeling. So I suppose the relief of not needing to study has come at a price, whether we like to admit it to ourselves or not. But here’s the thing. This might sound strange coming from me, whose only claim to fame happens to be being pretty good at the whole school thing, but there is a world beyond LIS and a life after the IB. Many of us will be going to University next year, which will also have final exams for you to experience. Others will be doing a gap year, which, I’ve been told, usually does consist of a lot of partying. So in the end, we really won’t be missing out on all that much after all.
Before I move on the part of the speech where I thank a whole lot of people, 1 would like to reflect on the “LIS experience” as a whole. On the one hand, I learned a lot academically – from the various history facts that Mr. Sands taught me to impress girls at parties (It’ll work someday) to how much I hate Shakespeare (thanks Mr. Allen). But as I said before, school is more than just a place where we learn about calculus and the Calvin cycle – it is also a place for personal development. To illustrate what I mean, let me tell you a quick story. Just the other day, I was walking into school when Ms. Steffi stopped me at reception. She asked me “Do you remember what you did when you first came to the school?” I had vague recollections of my various exploits as a young kid, but I wasn’t sure what exactly she was referring to, so I said “Not really”. She said, “You bit your teacher, Ms. Hall”. I did indeed remember that, and I was ever so slightly embarrassed. But then she told me “I must say you’ve developed pretty well, considering.” That was very nice to hear, and it really got me to think about my own journey up to this point in my life. I know it’s been different for everyone, and quite a few of you haven’t been at the school for all that much time, but I believe that if you really dig deep, you too will discover the positive influence that being at this school had on you.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to those who helped me get to a point where I haven’t bitten anyone in about ten years. To all my friends, I’m not supposed to say names but you know who you are, thank you for making sure that not a single day went by where I haven’t had a reason to laugh or smile. To my family, thank you for giving me a place to sleep and food at regular intervals, and for giving me all the help that I needed to reach whatever goals I had. And to my teachers, thank you for always pushing me, keeping me motivated and most importantly, thank you for sharing with us your love for the subjects you teach. Finally, to all my classmates sitting here today, you are the ones that have kept school life interesting, from school trips to classroom conversations, all of you have made a positive contribution to LIS in some way or another. For those reasons, and a thousand reasons more, I will always remember you and the time I spent at LIS, with a smile on my face. Thank you.

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