March 30, 2013. That was my last 'official' day in school: my Valedictory Ceremony. The Saturday remains a special and unforgettable day for obvious reasons: leaving school is momentous, for school has been memorable. I had the honour and privilege to speak at on this occasion, a traditional address to fellow classmates, teachers, parents and the school, as a whole. I hope what I spoke does justice to the privilege entrusted:
Amidst this change in our responsibilities and expectations, amidst our aim of contributing meaningfully, amidst the mixed feelings on leaving school; the best we can do is that we ‘Take only memories and leave only footprints’.
If hope could be held, if purpose could be pledged, if pride could be proportioned, delight could be determined and gratitude be graded; then today in our courtyard, the cup would have truly overflowed. In our attempt to capture this definitive moment of our lives; the gravity, the poignancy, the magnitude of the occasion is lost on none.
Today, we stand facing multiple choices. However, unlike most times before, these choices regard matters of lifelong consequence, matters which will impact what we make of ourselves. Strongly linked with these choices is also uncertainty of what lies ahead, of what is yet to come. For us, this occasion is marked with a plethora of conflicting emotions: joy at having successfully reached an important landmark in life, reluctance on leaving such a cherished sanctuary, apprehension about the future and fear of something rather unspecific.
But despite the vague uncertainty, there remain a few things which are certain, which aren’t unchangeable.
Firstly, that we are fortunate to stand at this crossroad equipped with a fairly large skill set, thanks to our school. In its own way, school has been a well guarded cocoon, a different world altogether. It has been, and will remain a world of adults who work to teach, guide and mould countless students under their care; a world of passionate, concerned and loving teachers, a world safe for us to grow, fall, learn and relearn, a world of fond memories and happy ideas. It has also been a world with vast windows and open doors, for us to see and seek beyond. And it is this which helps us as we ponder over choices and I realize it will be this exposure and change which will help us later in life. And for all this and more, I am grateful—gratitude is definitely not an afterthought.
This elevated standard of our learning brings us to the next certainty. We must do something worthwhile, something which is never devoid of purpose. It is probably odd to state with conviction what possibly lies so far ahead, when the immediate future is shrouded with none of it. But regardless of what we choose; we must, and we will, do something worthy of what our education has gifted us. I am not sure what, and even less sure of when. As we mark our paths, we must strive to achieve excellence and purpose, to work with a ‘total passion for the total height’. We shall henceforth carry the badge of being SNK graduates, a tag which holds immense promise for it puts us in a league armed to enforce action to ideas. For our teachers, parents and all individuals who made this possible, it is a badge of responsibility, promise, pride and hope. They believe that we can, it is upon us to actually do.
Another thing which is irrevocable is that we’ll miss school! It has been home to such nice memories after all! I am going to miss so many things, small and big, that it is almost impossible to single out any one. The collective state of confusion we feel today just bears further testimony to the same: a powerful sense of camaraderie, belonging and attachment.