To our Guest Speaker, school management, parents, teachers, friends, fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
Today marks the culmination of our ultimate purpose; that is to graduate from high school. Although the path reaching this objective may not seem as an easy cakewalk for we have to endure tons of pillars of hard work, stay as night owls in doing our projects, assignments and making reviews for examinations. Truly this day we could say that finally we have made it. We have reached the summit of success by completing four years of high school transitioning into college life. We have indeed reached the milestones of our high school careers. The experience was just like entering into a maze with tremendous tasks to hurdle and you get to find the right exit on time and sometimes just in the nick of time. I am sure the feeling now is that we are all on cloud nine. Isn’t it fellow graduates?
Indeed, you shall reap what you have sown. It has been 11 years, 9 months, 1 week, 4 days, 9 hours, around 47 minutes, and 40 seconds today since I started my school life journey here at Southville International School and Colleges. I never thought that I would be standing here to speak before you on this momentous and joyous event in our lives as High school graduates of batch 2015.
Looking back, I spent almost more than half of my life in this school which I consider as my second home — an educational institution where my total being was formed and nurtured over the years through the 5Cs (Competence, Character, Collaboration, Creativity, and Commitment to Achieve). These 5Cs have shaped me into the person I am today. I would like to believe this transformation can be likened into a lump of coal that turned into a diamond for I did not start in top form. It took a long while turning the hands of time to mold me to a better person standing here before you.
At first I thought the school would just be a playground where I can mingle and make friends with other children. I did not think it would be a venue for learning. I can still remember the day when I stepped in the classroom of Junior Prep-Orange at Elizalde campus under the class of Teacher Jenny. During that time, I have tasted my first test of character formation wherein we were asked to share our books in the mini library of our classroom. Teacher Jenny wrote a note in my diary that I should learn the value of sharing since I refused to lend the book, “The Gingerbread Man”, to one of my classmates.
I vividly remember the fond memories of Family Day wherein I would always look forward to joining and building a strong foundation of partnership and harmonious relationship among students, parents and teachers. Programs like Tug-O-Wits, musicals such as Seussical where I played the role of The Cat in the Hat, poetry recitations in grade school, the monologue competition in high school, the loud cheers during Battle of the Bands wherein I felt like a rock star even for a night although I do not seem to look like one. These are the defining and shining times of my school life.
On the other hand, there are situations that I would go home upset, downhearted, disgruntled and empty-handed when I participated in competitions such as Pinoy Idol, volleyball varsity tournaments in grade school, school elections, science and math competitions, and spelling bees. All of these setbacks did not stop me from pursuing what I want to achieve for I know that failures are steps to greatness. My parents would always tell me that nobody becomes a champion, no one can be great, no one can win any battle without having to undergo and experience heartaches, miseries, disappointments and the agony of defeat for from these halls of trials and tribulations emanate the sweetness of victory. We would know if we are on the road to success if we have done our part, our share, and our best without being told to do so.
What seemed to me like a playground before has now become a tough reality. An endeavour that is full of responsibility in terms of leadership not only in words but also in actions as well. The process of achieving academic excellence did not come easy. Various obstacles and struggles have to be hurdled in order to achieve my goal because there are areas that I am not too confident at. Year after year I have to constantly exceed my capabilities and continuously compete with myself.
When it comes to subject matter, mathematics has always been a challenging topic since I disliked numbers but I had to deal with it whether I liked it or not. I had to find ways to counter this difficulty by improving my skills over and over again in my “thinking chair” at home. I refused to accept that difficulties cannot be transformed into opportunities. The challenge to move one step further and do the extra mile is the key. I have to be persevering and determined to overcome this stumbling block that has come before me. I have to push myself to the limits in order to qualify for the Math training programs and fortunately I qualified for the in-house summer training program of MTG. By doing this, I know I will gain something from all of these undertakings. It is never too late to achieve especially if we have not exhausted all possible means to better ourselves in everything that we do. Our luck is a consequence of our actions. What is it that we want and how do we achieve it spells the difference.
More often than not every day during our dinner, my parents would always ask on how we performed in class especially whenever there are tests that are given. From their very words they asked; Anak, did you do your best in your exams? Then I would jokingly reply to them as the song goes “I did my best but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.” This song I sing especially if I know that I could probably have committed mistakes, but now after receiving these awards I can truly say that I really did my best this time.
In my growing up years, my parents would always prod me every now and then to take advantage of the school’s offer by joining different school activities and programs in order to become a holistic learner. I clearly understand it now for Benjamin Disraeli once said, “One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes”. As much as I can, I try to partake in every event possible for I know perfectly that it would eventually benefit and develop my inner self.
To my fellow graduates, one story ends, and another chapter begins as we move on to the next stage of our school life. Once Richard Bach said, “The gull sees farthest who flies highest”. Let us all be visionaries, for success starts with a vision. Let us embrace the highest vision possible and it will become a reality. Let us soar high to reach our dreams. Let us strive for excellence and leave our familiar comfort zones in the realms of mediocrity, for it knows nothing higher than itself. Let us dare to broaden our horizons no matter what it takes. Let us not be frightened by the mistakes we would make for it is the path to transformation. Mistakes are mere experiences in disguise. We may lose some of our battles like our intramurals but this should not stop us from overcoming failures in life. I hope we would be seeing each other 5 years or more down the line as successful batch mates, maybe successful doctors, engineers, lawyers, businessmen, teachers and other successful professionals. Who knows may be one of the school officials here in Southville like Ms. Avic and Sir Ardee. Let us live up to our title “The best batch ever”. Let this be our battle cry from now on.
To all the parents, thank you for bringing and fetching us to and from school every day, providing us allowances and most of all paying our tuition fees. We cannot thank you enough for all the sacrifices and support you have given us through the years.
To my teachers, thank you for being our second parents, being patient with us, and for imparting your knowledge to us. I’d like to thank Ms. Botalon, for introducing me to the world of science; to Ms. Joji, for believing that I can deliver the poems with confidence in poetry recitation contests in grade school; to Ms. Violi, for being my adviser and sponsor who always checks and reminds me to keep on going; to Sir Ian, for being a funny home-based teacher and helping me improve my communication skills in Filipino, maraming salamat po; to Sir Gian, thank you for developing further my musicality; to Sir JC, for teaching me how to appreciate literature and the importance of reading; to Ms. Armie, for being my PASS adviser who has been very supportive in providing critique in my research paper; to Ms. Ramos, for challenging me to always exert full efforts and deliver the best output in everything that I do; to Ms. Melanie, your dedication and passion as a Physics teacher motivated me immensely. You have been a sister, an adviser, and a friend. Because of you, my love for science has been solidified and strengthened; the reason why I am taking a career path related to the sciences. You served as a role model to me to exceed beyond my capabilities. And to Sir Humps, for inspiring me to go beyond the limits of Mathematics, a subject I never thought I would be good at. The road to success in the world of Math may be full of humps but it did not slow me down to achieve.
Thank you Ms. Avic for you are a witness to how I started my schooling. Sir Ardee, I will miss your encouraging words in our assemblies.
To my class, 11-Competence, for all the memories we’ve had since grade school. I’ll never forget the competitive atmosphere we had in the classroom because in the end, it has made us all better individuals. I know it’s hard for all of us to be leaving each other, but I’m sure we’ll still be seeing each other because we’re all so clingy.
To my grandparents and relatives, thank you for all the prayers and support. To my dearest sister ate Aika, my friend and confidant, thank you for always believing in me. To my parents, Dad, I look up to you and you have influenced me greatly. Mom, I know it’s difficult to give up your career to be a full-time mom, but you did since the day we were born. You were my first teacher and mentor and all of these wouldn’t have been possible without you. To you, I give this award.
Thank you for being the wind beneath my wings. Thank you for all the undying support, sacrifices and unconditional love you have given me and ate Aika. We may not have all the things that we want but surely you have provided everything that we need for I will always remember what you have been telling us all the time that the ultimate reward that we can receive above any material wealth are the school grades imprinted on our report cards for these are permanent and cannot be taken away even when the time comes when we are already old and gray sitting in my probably worn out “thinking chair” or a rocking chair perhaps, I would fondly reminisce the early days of my life and I would tell myself that I did a job well done.
To all of you, I would like to impart some thoughts to ponder on. Oprah Winfrey once said, “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe.”¬¬ Let us celebrate our accomplishments. Congratulations to all. Thank you.
To God be all the glory.
-Andrei Kenneth Dominic T. Merino, Class 2015 High School Valedictorian