Eckville High School’s valedictorian for 2018 was Casey Belway. Photo by Megan Roth/Eckville Echo

The Valedictorian’s Address

Casey Belway’s address to the grads of Eckville Junior-Senior High School

Hello and welcome distinguished guests, family, friends and graduates. Grad 2018. What a journey this has been. We arrived at Eckville Jr/Sr High School six years ago as minnows in a big puddle. I want to say that we have found out who we are and that we all have our lives planned out but i’m sure all of us can say that we have so much more growing left to do. We have just started to see our potential and that is thanks to the people who sit among us today. So thank you.

I’m not going to lie, when I first heard our theme I wasn’t 100% sold on it. Remember where your roots are. I didn’t really get it. I wasn’t born here;I had no blood family here; there weren’t generations of my family here before me, but I have come to realize that none of that matters.

Did you know that the oldest tree in the world is 9,550 years old. It is located in Sweden and sprouted during the Ice Age. Can you imagine the things that tree has seen? The number of people it has seen, marriages, wars, storms and sun. I started to think of each of us as a tree. We ourselves have already seen so many things: cell phones, gay rights, online dating, the rise of feminism, Snapchat, Netflix, and man buns.

We have also experienced more personal things: our first relationship, our second relationship our third relationship. Our first jobs and our first cars. We have also faced hard times like insecurities and failures. Everything you have experienced has made you into the person you are, the good and the bad. This made me think of a quotation by Dolly Parton. “Storms make trees take deeper roots.” And just as the tree still stands so do we.

We have become rooted into this community and into each other. Mrs.Young said something to me a couple of months ago. She said, “Everywhere you go you plant roots.” And I can say that this is true. My high school memories will always be with these people, with this town, with these teachers. We are all like branches on a tree; we are all going to grow in different directions and that’s okay; we need to find our passions, ambitions and strengths. Always remember that we have roots here and always will no matter where or how far we go.

In closing, I wanted to give you some advice; I would like to claim that I am very wise and know everything but unfortunately I do not. So I asked some of the teachers about what they would tell us if they could tell us one thing so i summarized to give you this;

Life is going to get hard sometimes; you are going to fail. It may be in your jobs, your relationships or upholding your values. Most people see failures as setbacks but always remember that a setback is the only way to make a comeback. Always know that the strongest trees have roots that keep them upright and standing tall. When life gets hard remember what you stand for. Do everything in life to the best of your ability and with integrity. Be loving instead of angry. Become a loving and optimistic person and see how your life will change. Go out into the world with an open mind and a heart that has limitless understanding and respect for life and the planet. Learn to appreciate differences and recognize that these are what make us unique. Live your life with passion and Live hard. Learn to enjoy life for every aspect it has.

Thank you class for the memories and accomplishments. Congratulations on making it to here, it wasn’t easy. I hope all your future endeavors work out and you never forget about the roots from the class of 2018 at Eckville Sr. high. Always remember you can Google for a mate, you can Google for a career, you can Google for an answer, but you can’t Google what’s in your heart. Thank you

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