How to write a valedictory address for this situation? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 20 Old 04-17-2014, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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First, I understand that this is totally my ds's deal. He is the graduating senior. He is the valedictorian. I know he will write his own speech and I expect he will do a very good job.

 

But what I'm looking for is a bit of perspective on how an audience might view a valedictory address in this situation. 

 

It's a very very small school, a K-12 school in a fairly isolated village of 600. His graduating class looks like it will consist of four students. None has attended the high school for more than two consecutive years, they've all taken non-traditional pathways through life and education thus far, they have a range of skeptical and/or nihilistic views on institutional education, have almost nothing in common, and almost no shared history together. My ds is the only one of the four intending to go on to post-secondary studies.

 

In this village it's typical that the graduating class has mostly been together since kindergarten, and the community knows each one of them intimately. My ds has lived here since birth but was unschooled with very little academic structure until Grade 11. One of the other graduates attended this school for a few years, but moved away for several years, was not in school for a while and just moved back as a mature student living on her own this past fall. Another moved here with her boyfriend two years ago after enduring a pretty disastrous home life in a big city with her mom from whom she is now estranged. The third is the interim principal's son, who moved here 8 months ago, and who will be moving away with his family in June. 

 

So ... none of the traditional high school or community memes fits this group of grads. They're not "leaving home and commmunity" or "heading out onto new independent adventures" or "completing a long journey." The grad ceremony is more about fulfilling community tradition than anything, but it has to fit the reality of this graduating class. 

 

Can anyone help brainstorm ideas for an appropriate theme and tone for a speech in this situation?

 

Miranda


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#2 of 20 Old 04-18-2014, 03:30 AM
 
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Wow Miranda that is a really unique situation!  

 

The first thing that popped into my mind was something along the lines of how life can be fairly random and how a good thing can come of the randomness of these high schoolers showing up in this school together and 'making something of it.' Similar to how in life, these seemingly random events can very frequently be life changing, and especially when we initially think they are not meaningful and/or we feel a sense of disrespect for them: these situations become our greatest teachers. I think I'd acknowledge how this group has not traveled far together and have not had the opportunity to form deep bonds, but have still 'made something' of their experience. They are unique in many many ways, and life has a way of throwing unique situations at us:  what we do with them is the important thing.

 

I'll continue to ponder.....

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#3 of 20 Old 04-18-2014, 06:30 AM
 
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I don't have any ideas but I'd love to hear what he finally chooses.

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#4 of 20 Old 04-19-2014, 09:27 AM
 
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I think a lot depends on how these students were treated by the school and village -- was there room for them to be who they needed to be, to get through their time there in a way that was right for them?  If so, then it would certainly be a nice note to include in his address.  The tradition of the community seems to be to gather and wish them well, so he can respond to that if it's the genuine climate.  

 

Sounds as though the graduation ceremony is more a snapshot than part of a long movie or series they've all been in on together.  :-)  It almost seems as though the students have a bond of universally being atypical for this time and place; maybe touch on that in some way? 

 

I think trepidation, hope, and good intentions are a common theme at graduations, and they have more than one flavor.

 

Good luck to your DS and his classmates!

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#5 of 20 Old 04-19-2014, 10:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by MariaMadly View Post
 

I think a lot depends on how these students were treated by the school and village -- was there room for them to be who they needed to be, to get through their time there in a way that was right for them? 

 

Yes, absolutely! This is a pretty unique small town in that it has been populated by three successive waves of people who were forcibly or reluctantly relocated here. Yet in time, surrounded by others who had faced similar trials, given the space to live their lives as they wanted, and surrounded by all the natural beauty, they decided to stay and build their lives here even after the political tide changed. Unlike many small towns, this one has a deeply felt tradition of acceptance of alternative cultures, beliefs and practices, and that tradition pervades the school as well. 

 

So yes, this is a really good idea for a possible theme, as is the random serendipity theme that Lauren mentioned above. 

 

My ds is considering starting his speech with a paragraph or two full of the standard clichés that so clearly don't fit his graduating class, probably inciting a bit of incredulity amongst the audience members who will know it doesn't really fit, and then confessing that none of it is true of him and his fellow graduates. Then going on to say that despite the fact that nothing he just said applies to the Class of 2014 there is much of value that does ... 

 

and then segue into talking about the value of non-traditionalism, serendipity, acceptance and uniqueness. 

 

"We weren't 'shaped by our high school experiences.' We were already our own unusual shapes when we arrived: instead we were graciously enfolded, quirky angular bits and all." 

 

That sort of thing.... 

 

Do you think that his idea of starting out with a paragraph of cliches would be too mocking and disrespectful of traditional valedictory addresses? I'm thinking that since this is a community where everyone knows everyone, that it would be understood to be a statement that "this does not apply to us" rather than as scorn and derision. 

 

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#6 of 20 Old 04-19-2014, 10:30 AM
 
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Yes, absolutely! This is a pretty unique small town in that it has been populated by three successive waves of people who were forcibly or reluctantly relocated here. Yet in time, surrounded by others who had faced similar trials, given the space to live their lives as they wanted, and surrounded by all the natural beauty, they decided to stay and build their lives here even after the political tide changed. Unlike many small towns, this one has a deeply felt tradition of acceptance of alternative cultures, beliefs and practices, and that tradition pervades the school as well. 

 

So yes, this is a really good idea for a possible theme, as is the random serendipity theme that Lauren mentioned above. 

 

My ds is considering starting his speech with a paragraph or two full of the standard clichés that so clearly don't fit his graduating class, probably inciting a bit of incredulity amongst the audience members who will know it doesn't really fit, and then confessing that none of it is true of him and his fellow graduates. Then going on to say that despite the fact that nothing he just said applies to the Class of 2014 there is much of value that does ... 

 

and then segue into talking about the value of non-traditionalism, serendipity, acceptance and uniqueness. 

 

"We weren't 'shaped by our high school experiences.' We were already our own unusual shapes when we arrived: instead we were graciously enfolded, quirky angular bits and all." 

 

That sort of thing.... 

 

Do you think that his idea of starting out with a paragraph of cliches would be too mocking and disrespectful of traditional valedictory addresses? I'm thinking that since this is a community where everyone knows everyone, that it would be understood to be a statement that "this does not apply to us" rather than as scorn and derision. 

 

Miranda

I think that sounds really sweet!  Starting out with the conventional paragraph would crack me up, but it's a "know your audience" thing.  Does someone work on the speech with your DS?  He could run it by an administrator or other long-timer, perhaps.  My other suggestion is that he have an exit plan if he senses a dour response, so he can more quickly segue out of it to the rest of the speech if needed.


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#7 of 20 Old 04-19-2014, 11:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

"We weren't 'shaped by our high school experiences.' We were already our own unusual shapes when we arrived: instead we were graciously enfolded, quirky angular bits and all." 

 

 

 

I like this. I also think that with such a small class, he could include a sentence or two about each of his co-graduates, specially naming the strengths they bring to their lives, the gifts they have to share with the world.


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#8 of 20 Old 04-19-2014, 01:23 PM
 
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I like the idea of starting out with the cliches, but I do like humor. I think the admins usually do preview the speech, so they would let him know if they didn't think it was in good taste. It sounds like he is well on his way to a great speech! Maybe you can post the whole thing here for us when it's done (with his permission!)


 
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#9 of 20 Old 04-19-2014, 10:13 PM
 
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I think it sounds great. I was going to suggest that he might approach it from a "we all walked our own paths to arrive at this occasion" perspective, but it sounds like he's already got that. I think the cliches could be okay. I'm all for humor, but I leave it up to you to decide if it's appropriate. I don't know your audience.


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#10 of 20 Old 05-11-2014, 08:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So last night one of his fellow graduates -- the 19-year-old who had moved away and then back again -- and three other teens from our tiny community, were drowned. I'm not sure whether we'll even proceed with graduation ceremonies. I suppose probably we will but at this point a now-even-more-complicated valedictorian speech seems the least of our problems. We have a lot of funerals to get through first.

 

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#11 of 20 Old 05-11-2014, 09:13 AM
 
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So last night one of his fellow graduates -- the 19-year-old who had moved away and then back again -- and three other teens from our tiny community, were drowned. I'm not sure whether we'll even proceed with graduation ceremonies. I suppose probably we will but at this point a now-even-more-complicated valedictorian speech seems the least of our problems. We have a lot of funerals to get through first.

 

miranda


Oh, no!  So very sorry for you, your DS, your entire community.  My heart goes out to you.


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#12 of 20 Old 05-11-2014, 09:45 AM
 
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I am so very sorry. What a terrible tragedy. :(


 
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#13 of 20 Old 05-11-2014, 09:57 AM
 
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Oh my god. What a heartbreaking desaster for your tiny community. I wish N all the strength possible to cope, first with the losses, then with the awesome responsibility of saying the right things if the ceremony does go ahead after all...

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#14 of 20 Old 05-11-2014, 10:50 AM
 
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#15 of 20 Old 05-11-2014, 11:49 AM
 
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I'm so, so sorry.

 

:candle


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#16 of 20 Old 05-12-2014, 06:51 PM
 
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Oh how heartbreaking. So sorry for your whole community.


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#17 of 20 Old 05-12-2014, 09:48 PM
 
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Oh Miranda, this is awful. I'm so sorry. Hugs to the family and to your community. 


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#18 of 20 Old 05-14-2014, 06:28 PM
 
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I am so sorry, what a tragic loss of life.
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#19 of 20 Old 05-14-2014, 09:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/slocan-lake-canoe-accident-search-resumes-for-3-young-people-1.2639770

 

It was my dh who ran the code on Lily for 5 hours. The lake is 34 degrees right now, which is why it took so long: they had to rewarm her first. The boys' bodies still haven't been located: the depth in the search area is as great at 450 feet. It's in a little bay close to shore. Crazy deep, and crazy cold.

 

Ds is now on a choir tour in another province. His choir is awesome -- and *not* based in our community, and the director is such a perfect adult for him to be with right now. She's looking after him very well; they all are. We'll start trying to deal with how to go forward after he gets back. He won't have to make decisions alone: the teacher who was chosen as a grad advisor for his class was like a second mom to Lily, and she is also a hospice volunteer who has an amazing gift for helping people through grief and healing. So I'm sure he'll get a lot of support from her in writing his speech and I suspect the grad ceremony will achieve the right tone and balance with her guidance.

 

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#20 of 20 Old 05-14-2014, 09:37 PM
 
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I'm so sorry.

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