Address to the 2016 Grad Class


Nathan Henderson listens to teacher Stephanie Davies’ address to the graduating class.

Mark Twain Said, “the two most important days of your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why”. I’d like you to ponder this as I speak for the next – well, little bit.

Good evening Everyone! It is truly an honor to stand up here tonight as a representative of the staff of Tumbler Ridge Secondary to bid farewell to our 2016 graduating class.

Two months ago when I was asked to present the commencement speech at the ceremony tonight, I started thinking about what I wanted to say—I started to write it down last week. In the midst of thinking about tonight, I was really involved—perhaps a little selfishly—in my own transition. As many of you know there are a few of us leaving Tumbler Ridge Secondary at the end of the school year. Although I have moved forward with a job search, home search etc. I have been very resistant to the overall idea of change.

As I got thinking about change, I began to reflect on our little town …Tumbler Ridge. The first time I came here was just over eight years ago. The only way my husband had convinced me that maybe this town was okay to move to was by telling me that there was a zip line with a hot tub to land in, in the middle of the town square.

We drove up here in a blizzard, there was no zip line, no hot tub and we couldn’t even get a hotel room. We had to drive back to Chetwynd to find a place to sleep. I told my husband NO way was I moving to this place. We arrived six months later. Since then I have grown to love Tumbler Ridge and what it represents.

Whether you’ve grown up here or only been here for a short time, I think our community has offered each of us some insight and preparedness for moving forward in our lives. The change and transitions that Tumbler Ridge has been through are what have shaped our little town into the amazing resilient community that embraces hope as it’s motto!

As I thought more about personal changes, and how much I was struggling, I began to think about all of you and how hard it must be (yes I’m that old that I forget what it was like to graduate high school) to be moving forward with this GIANT transition – GRADUATION.

Then I read something by C.S. Lewis, “Isn’t it  funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different…?” This made me realize we experience change everyday without really noticing. And change, interestingly enough, can be a beautiful rewarding thing, when approaching it with the right attitude. Realizing that you have to let go, and that’s okay, to move forward is the first step in embracing change and the only way we can truly embrace change it is to start focusing our energy not on what we have to lose but what we have to gain as we move forward.

This group of graduates, ALL of you, are unique. However this class stands out because of the amazing array of different personalities that grace us every day! This provides at times, a challenging group (in a good way)– however what it also accounts for is a powerful basis for the new pillars of society. Each and every one of you has something to offer this world.

So tonight, I’d like to offer you this comparison: you’re like a puzzle. Not just in that at times you’re confusing – but that you sometimes need each other to bring out the best in you.

When you dump out a puzzle box, the pieces fall all over the place and are easy to lose, but when you take each piece and compliment it with another piece, the best quality of each piece of the puzzle comes out. It’s so easy in life to want to just work on our own, and pretend like we don’t need one another, but as is evidenced in our community, and in large part our world, we have to stick together and work as a team in order to grow and ultimately change into what we were created for.

To go back to that quote that I said at the start of all of this, I believe many people spend their entire lives searching for why they exist and what they were meant to do. Sometimes through the change in seasons of our lives, we discover who we truly are. Without forced change at times, we might never find our true selves.

To you grads, I want to sincerely thank you for the gifts you’ve offered all of us during your relatively short (for most of you) time at TRSS. Each of you truly does have a special gift and we are so excited to see not what life brings you but what you to bring to life.

I’d like to close with an adapted quote from Neil Gaiman, I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world and our world.

You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. Don’t Freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect. Whatever it is: Art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it!

Make mistakes, keep using your gifts, and embrace change next year and always.

Thank you.