AWARD WINNERS Joining Principal Janice Sargeant, from left, Kenzie Varga-Thagard, OPC Principal’s Leadership Award; Tessa Piccolo, Excellence in Education Award, Loran Finalist Award; Trent Glenney, Valedictorian; Taryn Petrovsky, Valedictorian; Emily Bonisteel, Governor General’s Academic Medal. SUPPLIED PHOTO



In a break with tradition, this year’s E. L. Crossley Secondary School valedictory commencement address was delivered by two students, not just one. Each year, students apply to deliver the address, are vetted by school administrators and teachers, then the graduating class selects the valedictorian from the list of approved applicants. Trent Glenney and Taryn Petrovsky applied to do the address together, and the graduating class selected them. The following is their speech, delivered to the graduating class of 2019 during commencement ceremonies last Wednesday evening, at the Scotiabank Convention Centre, Niagara Falls.

Valedictorian Speech

TRENT: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, today is an exciting day. On behalf of my co-valedictorian and myself, we would like to formally welcome all faculty, alumni, friends, family, distinguished guests and of course the graduating class to the E. L. Crossley class of 2019 graduation ceremony. Well graduates, we made it. As a group, we did indeed start from the very bottom, and it appears that miraculously, the whole team is here.

TARYN: It’s hard to believe our journey started over four years ago registering for our classes, picking electives and attending Grade 8 Day and Summer Grade 9 orientation. I still remember very clearly getting up hours before arriving at Crossley that hot August morning, wearing what I thought was my best pair of jeans and t-shirt thinking to myself, “This is my big entrance into high school.” Now, I’m sure you can all attest that when you see me around school as a Grade 12, I now sport my favourite pair of Roots sweatpants and Birkenstocks most days, just like the rest of us. This day was important though because it’s where we got to meet our future classmates and soon-to-be friends for the next four years. We were all leaving the comfort of our elementary schools and entering the new and exciting world of E.L. Crossley, which for most of us soon became a second home. During the first few months of school I was extremely lucky to have a group of amazing girls to welcome me and show me everything I needed to know. They were what I thought was my own personal high school 101 handbook even though they had only just gotten over the awkwardness of being a Grade 9 themselves. It was a year full of so many opportunities and first times as a Cyclone, and where a lot of us found what we loved to do, whether that be Ski Club with Mrs. Cripps, Chess Club with Mr. Hughes, or even a short love of rowing with Mr. Ruscitti. Although many of us may look back at Grade 9 photos and cringe, it was a year full of discovery and shaped a lot of us into the Cyclone graduating students we are today.

TRENT: As quickly as Grade 10 came and the freedom of getting your license, it left quicker than the first time you drove by yourself, with the reward of greater freedom and the chance to become more of who you are and starting to pave your own path and shaping yourself into what you want to become with Grade 11. But as the year progresses, you soon realize the increased responsibilities you now have as an upper classman. You may not realize it, but you are always being watched and setting an example for those that will soon follow in your footsteps.

TARYN: And now, here we are in our Grade 12 year with so many amazing memories to look back on. One of my strongest memories is from my first few weeks of high school, watching the senior students at the time, looking up to them and their Crossley Spirit. This has been something that has stuck with me throughout my four years and I could not wait to do the same coming into this final year in September. Whether it was during Cookies and Cram sessions with Link Crew, the Annual September Glow Dance, cheering at SOSSA finals games or winning Crossley’s first ever Colour Wars just a few weeks ago, there was always something exciting going on in our halls, and I think all of the graduates sitting here today would say the same. Whether you were an athlete, artist, student council member, mathlete or all of the above, Crossley has impacted all our lives in some way the past four years and positively shaped the young adults we are becoming. Even though for many of us there were lots of important decisions to make regarding the next chapter of our lives, whether that be university, college, an apprenticeship, working, travelling or even taking one more year at Crossley because you just loved it so much—four was not enough. Regardless, we still managed to have lots of fun and make it here today. None of this could have been possible without the support of our Crossley staff and parents. On behalf of our whole class of 2019, I think it’s only proper to thank our amazing teachers for always being there for us, not only inside the classroom but after school on the bench or during lunch with that one last question before a third period test. As well, our wonderful guidance staff, for leading us in the right direction and being a crucial part in our post-secondary decisions this past year. And lastly our parents, driving to every 6 AM practice and signing every permission form—thank you for your support that has shaped us into the individuals we are today.

TRENT: And here goes Taryn, standing up here talking like we will never see these people again, but this isn’t a goodbye, it’s a see-you-later, because these folks aren’t going anywhere. Mrs. Benson will always be in the drama room, making sure our world-class improv team is in tip-top shape, Mrs. Barber will always be in the music room, preparing the marching band for their next big parade, and if Mr. Blanchard isn’t in his office or in the gym, there’s a great chance you’ll find him in his hometown of Kapuskasing, Ontario. You see, Crossley isn’t going anywhere, I mean give it a couple years and you guys will be back too. In fact, not only are you going to be back, but take a look around. You could be sitting beside our next set of nurses, Emma Brownlee and Jenna Veerman, our next teacher, Ryan Minor, our next ruthless lawyer, Erica Carter, or even our next animal-loving veterinarian, Hailey Bronn, and I’m personally excited to be pulled over by our next law enforcement officer, Tyler Dobbie. That’s sure to be a good time.

TARYN: You’re right, Trent, and don’t forget our future Prime Minister of Canada, Tessa Piccolo, sitting in the crowd out there. But with all kidding aside, we’ve all come a long way since Grade 9 and now by Grade 12, our puzzle of high school is coming together, with the last few pieces being put into place. If you set yourself up correctly as I’m sure most of us have, the final pieces were easy to put into place. I’m sure you’re all probably thinking, “Wow that must’ve been a big puzzle if it took you four years to make,” but if you think about puzzles, it’s always the smallest, most tedious pieces that make the beautiful, big picture.

TRENT: When I think about that final puzzle piece and putting it into place this last year before leaving high school, it can best sum it up in the words of Lance Jabr. Imagine that you’re a single guy and you decided that it’s time you settle down and find yourself a wife. You’re still young, so you don’t want to rush into anything, so you take months even years traveling across the province, and even the country, in hopes of finding that perfect woman. Some are too smart and others party too much for your liking but finally, after all your searching, you think you’ve found the perfect one. She’s fun, smart, beautiful, everything you’re looking for in a woman. You decide that it’s time to propose, but you only get one shot to do it, so you spend months agonizing over it. How you’re going to do it, what you’re going to say, you even set a deadline for yourself so you can’t put it off forever, and as that deadline approaches, you begin to get more nervous. The deadline is here. She’s way out of your league, is the ring big enough, is it too late to go back—oh, you’re so nervous—and then it’s over, you submitted your proposal, there’s nothing more you can do. She looks at you and, dead in the eyes, says, um, let me get back to you in 2-4 months. That’s pretty much what applying to post-secondary schools is like—she may say yes, she may say no. But guess what you didn’t tell her. You proposed to a bunch of backup girls, just in case she rejected you and they’re all begging you to come marry them instead. Lucky for you, if she did say yes, there’s a good chance two or three of your buddies are also going to marry her too, so you can all be one big happy family. Amidst all this chaos, I can agree with Taryn in saying we have had a terrific year in our last at Crossley. We had three teams and a doubles team make it all the way to OFSAA, including the 2019 OFSAA Champion Senior Girls Volleyball team. We had incredible accomplishments from every student individually and collectively in both the classroom and community, but perhaps our greatest accomplishment of all, maneuvering our way through our life’s greatest challenge thus far, high school. But we survived. We survived class, homework, exams and even the Beep Test. So, as we part ways equipped with priceless knowledge, we embark upon a life sure to be equipped with challenges and triumph. Street poet and philosopher Drake once said, “Oh well, I guess you lose some and win some, long as the outcome is income, you know I want it all and then some.” While the idea of material success does heavily influence our lives, we ask that you follow your dreams and do what makes you happy. Class of 2019, strive to be the best version of yourself you can be and never let anyone else hold the pen when writing the story of your life. Don’t let it slip away because when you get older, your life will dream for younger days. One day you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember.

TARYN: We are all destined for greatness. Graduates, each and every one of you has the potential to change the world. We’ve all grown into strong, hardworking and passionate individuals these past four years. Whether you’re someone who has been a part of this journey since the beginning or joined the ride somewhere along the way, even if it was only for our last semester of our Grade 12 year, you have been a part of writing the story of the Class of 2019. Each and every one of us should take pride in how far we’ve come and have faith in how much further we can go. This moment is not an ending, but a beginning that marks the start of the rest of our lives. And to finish off today with some inspiration from one of the most critically acclaimed movies of our generation, High School Musical, Crossley is having friends we’ll keep for the rest of our lives, and I guess that means we really are all in this together, because, “Once a Cyclone, always a Cyclone!”

TRENT AND TARYN: Thank you and congratulations Class of 2019.