Matt Blackaby - photo by Ron Hole

From Howard Tsumura - The Province - LINK to Story


SCHOOL: Pitt Meadows

FRESHMAN’S FUTURE: Trinity Western

WISE WORDS: “…don’t be afraid of that which is holding you back. Look it in the eyes and say ‘Thank You’ because the greater the obstacle, the greater the success, the greater the pain, the more satisfying the relief. There are no children here, not anymore. There is only the future.”

Matt and classmate Karli Banns both wrote and delivered commencement address to the Maruaders’ nation on June 24.

COQUITLAM, British Columbia — Honourable guests, family and friends, staff and fellow students, I would like to welcome you to Pitt Meadows Secondary.

This is a school where chickens run wild, where toilets are misplaced and where pocket bikes roam the halls. The vending machines not only eat your money but the bag of chips as well. The locker color combinations never cease to remind us how old PMSS really is.

Did I mention how awkward the acronym is when referring to our school?

The basketball coach’s voice can be heard for miles, even when he’s happy.

Students tread carefully so as to not be wounded by the physics teacher’s deadly Nerf gun. The only lesson retained from chemistry class “no grams squared” and I’m still not clear as to what it means. With all its quirks it is still a school that contains the best graduate class of Pitt Meadows, according to Mr. Dickson of course.

Now in my humble opinion, Pitt Meadows Secondary is the best high school in all of Pitt Meadows. Sure it’s the only high school, but who cares. This creates a very diverse and impressive combination of students. There is a wide range of individuals who vary from someone who can score 100% on a chemistry test, multiple times or score one thousand points in two basketball seasons.

In and amongst us are students who have attained full ride scholarships to SFU, UVIC, UNBC, US and UBC. We have WHL hockey players, national champion gymnasts, future firefighters and police officers and several future CIS athletes.

Overall our graduating class has earned over $200,000.00 in scholarships. One thing’s for sure, small town, big talent.

In 2008 we were a bunch of little grade 8s that all met one another at Camp Squia and began making memories.

Now as graduates we look back on our grade 12 year and laugh. Moves were busted during our lunchtime dance offs. Glasses were shattered during our karaoke competitions. Stands were packed as we showed our school spirit and the basketball team won the Fraser Valley Championship.

We experienced everything from early mornings to late nights, from Spring Flings to Slip and Slides, and from Mr. Dickson tossing candy bags to the crowd to Mr. Oldridge’s collection of matching  tracksuits, from the first day of grade 8 to the last day of grade 12. These years will be very difficult to forget.

High school is a place known to create life-time friends but for some of us we have grown up together.

Living in this small town allowed us to create these friendships in elementary school and continue on to experience high school with the same friends.  But in the course of five years, new friendships are bound to kindle which resulted into a tightly knit group of students.

Unfamiliar faces are hard to come by in this class of over 200 and that’s the way it should be. Together we faced final exams, raced for the certain parking spot, danced the night away at grad and today for the last time together we walk across the stage.

Let me tell you a little something you may not have known about us. As teenagers it seems as though we have made it our sole purpose in life to make things easier for ourselves in any way possible. This includes driving to school from home, which is only one block away. Refusing to acknowledge that any other website exists apart from Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia.

In fact if a student is texting in class, chances are the person receiving the text is in the same room. All of this just further proves the widely known fact that we, as teenagers, are not only invincible but also the most intelligent beings in the universe. Perhaps the most effective method of making life easier on ourselves is in speech and writing. Maybe some of you in the audience have been so technologically savvy to come across our slang, abbreviations and infamous acronyms. Perhaps the most commonly used on our list of undervalued invented words are “LOL”, “ROFL”, “LMFAO” and “YOLO”.

Who among you parents can honestly tell me that you know what all of these mean? Allow me to enlighten you. LOL stands for laugh out loud, ROFL stands for rolling on floor laughing and LMFAO stands for little monkeys fighting astronauts obviously. The last one, “YOLO” is the newest of them all and was made famous by a Canadian rap artist named Drake. I would like the grad class to help me in telling you what it means (You only live once).

What a simple message, yet so often and so easily misinterpreted. YOLO is now the ultimate excuse, the ultimate justification for any action. “I just ate a worm, YOLO right?”; “I just failed a test, YOLO right?” Wrong. How can this possibly be a justification for laziness or ignorance? If you only live once then you should be clutching to every second in an attempt to make a difference in the world. Use this realization to want something, to earn something, to set a goal and once you achieve it set another.

Terry Fox said, “I don’t feel that this is unfair. That’s the thing about cancer. I’m not the only one, it happens all the time to people. I’m not special. This just intensifies what I did. It gives it more meaning. It’ll inspire more people. I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made possible if you try.”

You may think, how in the world can Terry Fox relate to us? He is an international hero and we’re just high school kids trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives. You are missing the point. Listen to his words, “I’m not special”, “dreams are made possible if you try”. Terry Fox wasn’t amazing because he had cancer. Terry Fox was amazing because of what he did despite having cancer. The fact that you might be dealing with a problem does not set you apart from everyone else. You fail, and it hurts, congratulations, welcome to the world. Get up, get back in it and grind it out. I’m not going to stand here and tell you that what you will go through is insignificant or that I will ever be able to understand what you are dealing with. But don’t be afraid of that which is holding you back. Look it in the eyes and say ‘Thank you’ because the greater the obstacle, the greater the success, the greater the pain, the more satisfying the relief. There are no children here, not anymore. There is only the future.

Look around, look at your friends, look at your family, and look at your teachers. Thank them because they made you.

Thank you teachers, for the time you invested in us and for your relentless nagging. Thank you parents for your love, patience and relentless nagging.

Thank you friends for refusing to let any day be boring or go without a laugh.

Thank you to those students who set the standard for us all and those who lowered theirs to make the rest of us feel good.

Look around one last time at these people joining you in your entrance to the real world.  High school is the preparation for the race and not the race itself.

Graduation is a stepping stone and not a finish line.

So chase after your dreams, conquer your goals, move mountains and be willing to take the sacrifice to achieve the accomplishment.

Live in the moment.

Embrace this moment and live in it grads of 2012. After all, you only live once.

Last Updated: 2012-06-28
Author: Mark Janzen