Valedictorian Speech - Eula Odulio
Good evening my fellow graduates, parents, guests, teachers and faculty members. I’d just like to start off by saying it’s definitely been a whirlwind of experiences here at Tec Voc. I’m sure many of our graduates today can agree that high school has had it’s fair share of ups and downs. From the studying, tests, quizzes, assignments from different classes. Many of which had due dates that all fell on the same day. And now we’re about to step into a new chapter, another milestone surpassed. Everyone reacts to change very differently. Leaving high school will be a bittersweet feeling for many of us, I’m sure. It’ll be a breath of fresh air, to be a part of something new after being here for a while. But looking back, we did have some amazing times. We’ve witnessed and participated in events unique to only Tec Voc, like the collaboration of different students and teachers during our annual WIT Tournament. Then the friendly division between the two, during our famous dance rallies. Actually, this year, 2017 was the first time in a very long time our classmates, DTC won. So that’s super exciting. It’s also the only time we get to see our teachers wearing metallic leggings. I mean, in school anyway, I don’t know what you guys are up to at home. Anyway… How about the lunchtime karaoke sessions, where else would you see something that? And our musical this year too! If you didn’t go, you definitely missed out, we had big names like Mr.Crook and Ms.Sacco “acting” in it.
At points, it seemed like this time would never come. No, not Mr.Crook acting but us graduating. Three to four years, especially in high school can feel like a lifetime. Yet here we are, in alphabetical order, around the people that watched you grow during the most tumultuous times of your life. Bright green gowns, about to receive a diploma that encapsulates the experiences we’ve had in the past years. Being seventeen, eighteen, it’s hard. I mean, I would know from personal experience. We’re all moving onto something bigger and making life-altering decisions. Many of us taking the first steps into a dream we’ve always had, and that’s exciting, that’s great but it’s obviously nerve-wracking.
Luckily enough we come from Tec Voc. A school that offers so much guidance and support when it comes to our future. Even the little things some may take for granted, like the grad check-up meetings with our counsellors, are crucial to get us on our feet, that’s why they do it. There is truly no other school like ours. The abundance of sports, classes, clubs and vocations we harbour here are astounding. Even the mere physical size of our school is amazing. After being here for years I’m positive there are still areas and rooms I haven’t explored. For me, choosing Tec Voc has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Whether you’re graduating with an academic and/or vocational diploma. Whether you want to be a director or an entrepreneur. Into robotics, automotive, basketball or something entirely different, if you look, you’ll find something here for you. A place where you belong. Whenever someone asks why I love Tec so much I say the same thing every single time, there is truly something for everyone at a school as vast as ours.
And of course, none of this would be possible if it weren’t for the welcoming and accommodating teachers, counsellors, and coaches that have acted like mentors for many of us. The things we’ve learned during our years here don’t only belong in a pre-cal textbook or a biology assignment, it’s through the life lessons and experiences we were able to participate in thanks to our teachers and staff. Former Governor Sonny Perdue has said, “Our best teachers do more than impart facts and figures - they inspire, encourage students and instill a true desire to learn. That’s a fine art in itself.” I believe this speaks true to the teachers I’ve had the pleasure of encountering during my time here. All of them have been nothing but kind, and enjoyable, and that’s no understatement. So I’d like to thank them once again and let’s give them a round of applause.
My personal experience at Tec has been exceptional. But of course I would not be standing here in front of all of you today if it weren’t for my mother who has been my constant inspiration and source of guidance. Through my education here I found a purpose, a career path, and motivation to better myself. I’d like to give a special thanks to Mr and Mrs Goldrup for that, who have been my second set of parents in the three years I’ve attended Tec. They’ve guided me to pursue my passions and through their enjoyable albeit difficult graphics program I was exposed to some amazing opportunities and it shaped me into the person I am today. They know how much they mean to me and I am endlessly grateful for their presence in my life.
Tec Voc has made a real difference in numerous people’s lives, not just mine. It has built valuable career and personal skills by allowing each student the opportunity to utilize their unique gifts and hidden talents. That’s something special about our school. Us, the future alumni, will soon take advantage of those skills and indulge in a lifetime of possibilities. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you once again, Tec Voc High School for giving me the honour of being this outstanding class’ Valedictorian and for an unforgettable couple of years. May everyone gathered here today have a fantastic evening, and thank you so much!
Student Address – Mr. Denny Signore
Graduates, Parents, friends, family and honored guests:
It’s my pleasure to have been asked to present this commencement speech particularly because I too am graduating from Tec this year. After 30 years in that building, I’m finally getting out. Now I know that’s a considerably longer stay than the rest of you, although a couple of you tried to give me a run for my money. Is Mathew Koshelanyk here somewhere?
I’ll do my best tonight not to throw the usual clichés at you like, “it’s your day, or go out and change the world or follow your dreams” Instead I’ll talk about where you were, where you are and where you might be going.
My first bit of self-imparted wisdom is to strongly encourage you to thank the people who love and have supported you on your journey to graduation. Every one of us needs the support of family and friends through the good times and especially when our world seems to be cruel and unfair. Thank the people who helped you navigate through the challenging times and were there to celebrate your successes and achievements. And, don’t forget to acknowledge the people who exposed you to the idea of attending Tec Voc for your high school experience. You clearly made an excellent choice.
I came to Tec because I needed a job, but what I actually got was much more than that. When choosing a career I’ve heard so many people say things like, “follow your Passion”. A lot has been written about that lately, but shouldn’t we follow our passion? Ok, well one of my passions is golf, so if I followed my passion, right now I’d be living in my car and dumpster diving for my dinner. Not that I’m a horrible golfer, but I would need to be a hundred times better than I am to make a living doing it.
Instead, let me suggest a few career attributes that might help you decide which way to go.
First of all, does the career you’re considering satisfy your sense of purpose? Everyone wants to feel that what they do is useful, important and has meaning. Waking up every morning to go pound the same rock day after day, year after year just might not do it for you.
Next, does what you do help others, serve the community and make the world just a little bit better? Bob Dylan said, “You gotta serve somebody” so why not serve somebody and make a positive impact on their lives along the way.
Also, will there be time for family and consideration for your personal wellness? Happy, healthy employees enjoy greater success both at home and at work which makes them more productive and that translates into greater profitability for their employers.
Finally, let’s just say it….. You need money, so will your chosen occupation support the life style you want, or will your life style be dictated by the money you make?
Do we choose a career based on what we’re good at? Or do we choose based on what we love to do and then work at becoming good at it?
Are we all born with some intrinsic ability that makes us special or gifted in some way? Do we have some natural ability to understand and do some things well, but not others? I think there is some truth to that. I’ll give you a couple of examples: My wife has a “rainman” like brain for math. She can look at a column of multi-digit numbers and add them up in her head, but when it comes to things that have a power button, she’s technologically impaired. As for me, if asked to add that same column of numbers, I’d need a calculator and a spare set of batteries, whereas technology has always been easy for me to understand. So, Our career paths? Well my wife enjoyed a long and prosperous career in banking and finance while I started mine as an Automotive Technician. So did we exploit our strengths in choosing how we were going to make a living? For us it seemed to work out that way, but that doesn’t have to be true for everyone.
I made a slight deviation in my career path, leaving the trade to teach my area of expertise had opened up a whole new world for me and since then, has ticked every box. Being able to do it at Tec Voc for the past 30 years, has made it all the more fulfilling.
Lots to think about, navigating through the multitudes of possibilities might be difficult for some of you, but easier for others who have already decided which path to take. Either way, the choice is yours and the best that I can hope for is that we as teachers had a part in preparing you for the world of work. Long after we’re gone, our knowledge and wisdom live on in you and if still valid, one day you may pass it on.
Next I’d like to talk about the future and how technology has and will continue to play a major part in it. Big surprize, I’m into tech….As far as High Schools go, Tec Voc has always been on the leading edge of teaching innovation, technology and equipped with the best of everything including its teaching staff.
When I started this job, my choice of teaching aids included the slide projector, black board and my pathetic ability to draw illustrations. Anyone who has seen me draw will testify that I couldn’t draw a straight line if I had a ruler, so it was difficult to get my point across with the limited resources at my disposal, but I did the best I could with what I had.
Around the same time, we also used the overhead projector where we could pre make slides and put them up when needed. Then white boards, which my wife was happy about since I stopped coming home covered in chalk dust. Finally the most significant, teaching altering advancement in curriculum presentation…….. The computer. Smart boards, power point and on-line services like Moodle, Google classroom and Kahoot. We evolved as better technology became available and it made teaching more affective by increasing our ability to meet curricular outcomes and satisfy the varying needs of our students. Sounds good, right? Well not everyone embraces change as it becomes available. Some teachers still hang on to that overhead projector like it’s the last lifeboat on the Titanic and there’s only room for one. We as humans are resistant to change simply because routines and the status quo are easy to maintain and change requires some effort.
Let me give you an example of how hard it can be to to break out of that comfort zone and what it might take to move you.
When students started bringing their cell phones to school, then using them to text each other all day it became a huge challenge for teachers to keep their students on task. I found myself spending a part of every class asking kids to put their phones away and focus on their work.
This went on for years until one day I spotted a student using his phone, so like always I walked over and asked him to put it away and focus on his work. He replied, “But Mr. Sig, I’m looking up Torque specifications for this engine”…. He showed me his phone and sure enough a Torque spec table was on his screen. The realization of what I just witnessed jarred me into consciousness, much like so many kicks in the butt I received from my dad while growing up. (Don’t get me wrong I deserved everyone). It snapped me into the realization that this kid just gave me a huge wakeup call…. The enemy I’ve been fighting all these years can actually become my ally? Using his phone for good instead of my “perceived” evil changed everything.
Since then, bring your own device to school or BYOD has become a teaching strategy, not to be confused with BYOB which may explain some of the boots in the butt I received. This has become a resource that we as teachers continue to find innovative ways to use in our daily classes.
My point is not for you to accept and adopt every new idea that comes your way, but to a least give new ideas a look and consider the possibilities since advancements in tech will grow exponentially in the years to come.
Finally, the preaching can never be complete without some mention of this planet we live on and our responsibility to help preserve it for generations to come. Don’t believe Donald Trump! Climate change is real and each of us needs to be aware of our own carbon footprint and how we can do our part to reduce it. “Think green” its right there in our school motto and has never been more significant than it is right now.
Graduates, It’s your turn to take over and become our leaders of tomorrow. Work hard because I plan on living a long life and will need your pension contributions.
But for tonight, have fun, celebrate your achievements as I’ll be celebrating with you, although I can’t party like I used to, I’ll be with you in spirit. Stay safe And Always
Remember to Think Green, Act Gold and never stop being a hornet.