Mallory Hutchinson, pictured with vice-principal Mike Deighton, was selected as this year’s valedictorian. Beyond addressing her fellow graduates and picking up other individual awards, Hutchinson took home both the $1,000 Parmalat Canada Award and the Valedictorial Plaque. Press Photo – Uhrig


Here’s a look at the speech Hutchinson delivered to fellow students:

“Good evening, honoured guests, administration, teachers, family, friends and of course, the class of 2017.

Now that we are graduating, I think it’s time that we, class of 2017, take this opportunity to say three words that every teenager hates to say. YOU WERE RIGHT. These words could be directed to the person sitting next to you, or maybe someone on the other side of this room, but no matter who they are meant for, they are the truth. To my mom and dad, you were right that high school wouldn’t be easy. To my grade 12 chemistry classmates, you were right that I would be up until 2 in the morning working on my chemistry summative. And to Mrs. Williams, you were right that high school would fly by.

It seems like only yesterday that we entered the blue and white walls of North Dundas and we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We were grade seven students after all, and we had just decided to spend the next 6 years of our lives attending a rural high school that was surrounded by cemeteries, and where there wasn’t a tombstone, there was a cow sitting in an open hay field.

But it doesn’t matter the location of the school or the number of students that attend it, but it’s the people around you who make it worthwhile. It’s the familiar faces that you see in the hallway and the classroom each and every day that create a support system for you as you go through high school. Class of 2017, we wouldn’t have made it through high school without each other, and more importantly the staff here at North Dundas.

Starting high school as grade 9 students at North Dundas, I think I speak for all of us when I say that we had no idea what to expect from the teachers. I mean no one could have predicted that Mr. Daye would have a passion for singing the quadratic formula in Math class or that Ms. Richmire would purchase Kenny Chesney concert tickets in the middle of a Biology lesson. We never would have expected Mr. Moore to skip school to study a new bird species in the area… That’s right Mr. Moore, you may have said you had an appointment that day, but we students know what you really were up to! As students, we quickly realized that Mr. Bell’s loud voice could be heard from the other side of the school and that Mrs. Williams favourite word had to be “wowiezowie!” We got used to the fact that our principle, Mrs. Beaudette, and Mrs. Corbett-White looked almost identical, and we became accustomed to Ms. Poirier’s announcement after the announcements.

But as much as we may joke about them, we owe a lot to the high school teachers here at North Dundas, because without them, we wouldn’t have half the information that we have now stored in our temporal lobes. Without Ms. Richmire’s biology class, Cyrill Jaquement never would have learned what an organism really is, without Mr. Bougie’s woodshop class, Megan Derick would still be using rocks to stretch her wood, and without Mr. Reaney’s English class, Jack Van Kessel would still be paying other students to write his English essays.

All in all, I’d say that the staff here at North Dundas did a pretty exceptional job at creating the knowledgeable graduating students that we are now. And although many of us might not feel prepared for it, we’re being thrown out into the real world. A world where we’ll no longer have to ask to use the washroom, a world where snow days will no longer exist, and where we will be forced to learn how to make more than just Kraft Dinner for supper.

But we never would have made it to this point in life without the help of the very people that fill this gym today. Looking around the room, I see teachers, parents, grandparents, siblings and friends that made it possible for us graduates to walk across this stage today and receive our High School Diplomas and I think they deserve one big round of applause. The only people I don’t see in the crowd tonight are the Tim Hortons staff, who really should be here among us because without their ice capps and coffee, I don’t think any of us would have been able to survive high school.

But as we all graduate today and go off next year, whether it be college or university apprenticeship or even the workplace, I want you to remember this short quote said by Art Williams. It states: “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” Next year I can guarantee you that you will be faced with some sort of challenge. This challenge could be trying to make a meal that will taste just as great as your mothers, or maybe you’ll struggle with trying to find a way to stay awake during a 3 hour lecture. But no matter the challenge, I can promise you that in the end, it will all be worth it. After all, the acronym F.E.A.R. can stand for two thing: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. And this is what I hope you will all do; when life throws something your way, I hope you will face it and rise, because in the end it will all be worth it.

Graduates, take a quick second to look at the people seated around you. As we all go off on our own paths next years, you’re probably thinking that this may very well be the last time you’ll see some of the faces in this room today. But in all honesty, I doubt this will be the last time our paths will cross. Looking into the future, I can’t wait for the days when we’ll go to the grocery store to pick up a bag of milk and it’ll say “made from Brandon’s heifers” right on the side, Jessi Zandbelt and Jaclyn Crump will be teaching our kids how to read and write, Bobby Walker will be in charge of a large garage, but I’m sure he’ll still find time to fix our diesel trucks, Nikola Hunter and Alexis Henderson will be working in the hospital looking after the sick, Lynnette Klein Boonschatte, or however you say her last name, will be tending to goats, Malerie Paterson will be putting an end to global warming and Kyle Dejong and I will be teaching your kids how to do their back floats, over at the Chesterville pool. I’m just kidding, I’m sure Kyle and I will find ourselves grownup jobs too, hopefully!

But enough talk about the past and what is yet to come in the future; let’s focus on this moment right now! Class of 2017, today is the day that we graduate from this small rural school, basically situated in the middle of nowhere! And it is with great pleasure that I can finally stand up here and say, “Class of 2017, YOU WERE RIGHT! You were right that we would all one day graduate from high school”! Congratulations guys, and thank you!”