Congratulations Graduates! You did it!

Congratulations Graduates! You did it! Each one of you has overcome obstacles and pushed through moments of doubt to get to this point.

Each one of you has been supported along the way by your community – whether that be your families, your friends, your teachers, or a wider community. Nobody gets here alone. I want to encourage you to acknowledge those who have helped you along the way. Not just because it is important for us to say thank you and to foster a sense of gratitude within ourselves, but because recognizing those who have helped us get to this point also reminds us who we have to lean on as we embark on the next leg of our journey.

Much attention is paid to the notion of independence. This idea that you are now about to be launched. Alone. Into adulthood.

But that’s not how this works – it’s not how any of this works! None of us walk alone. We are all connected. Part of something bigger.

Your ability to ask for help, to advocate for yourselves, and to surround yourselves with good people is what got you here and it is what will get you through all that is yet to come. So, don’t be afraid to reach out when you need it, and strive to be the kind of person that when someone reaches out to you – you reach back and hold steady.

It is our connections – our relationships – that allow us to rise higher, jump further, push harder. And it is our relationships that give us the foundation we need to take risks.

And I encourage you to take risks. Smart risks! But risks nonetheless. Be brave. Be willing to fail. It is our failures that offer us the best opportunities for growth. Know that a mistake is always an opportunity. And trust me, I know from personal experience, you will have lots of opportunities!

You just need to be open to learning, growing, and working hard. You know how to work hard. I know you do – because it got you to this moment.

Now some of you have a clearly laid plans for the next phase of your life, others may still be trying to work out a plan, and still others will have no plan or interest in a plan. It’s all good as long you know you are supported and you are worthy of reaching any goals you may set. When I graduated high school, I had no plan at all – and look at me, I turned out alright.

Tonight I have the honour of recognizing and sharing my deepest pride in your accomplishments. I want to express my gratitude for your teachers and administrators. I want to tip my hat to all the parents and loved ones who have helped along the way. And I want to acknowledge those students who got here without the support of close family. I SEE YOU.

Finally, I want to remind you that within each of you lies a potential – and it is your job to nurture that potential so that you may contribute to your community. So that you may bring vision, and hope to the world around you. You can enrich the world – in fact you already do just by being in it. Just by being you.

So again, on behalf of the Greater Victoria School Board I congratulate you – all of you – and I wish you a wonderful night of celebration.

Trustee Jordan Watters, Greater Victoria School District #61