Class of 2024 Valedictorian Address

Olivia '24
Good afternoon families, faculty, pensions, and of course, my fellow graduates of 2024!

We did it! Through all the hard work, determination, unwavering support, and the countless coffees from the Coop, we’ve graduated high school.

Now, to start, I’d like to take a moment on behalf of the students to express our heartfelt gratitude to those who have made this journey possible. 

First, to the incredible faculty and staff: Your dedication and commitment to our education and well-being is truly appreciated. We’ve learned not just from textbooks, but from each other and from the world around us. Thank you for taking care of us during all our trips and putting up with our late check-ins and spontaneous 3am Burger King runs. In our futures, when we reflect on our time at NJC, you will definitely be a large part of the fond memories. Mr. Reynolds, I know I can speak for all the students when I say that we are very grateful to have been taught by you in your last year at NJC. We will miss all your jokes and hope that you enjoy your well deserved retirement.

To the parents and other family members, your support has been our foundation. You’ve been our cheerleaders, our guides, our ATMs, and our rock through every high and low. Thank you for believing in us and for the countless sacrifices you’ve made. Whether we realize it now or not, giving us the opportunity to attend NJC is the greatest gift you could have ever given us.

And to my parents, you guys are my ultimate inspiration. Your support and encouragement have brought me to where I am today. I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done for me, and I hope I can continue to make you guys proud. 

Et à nos familles d’accueil, merci de nous ouvrir vos maisons et vos cœurs. Sans vous, cette expérience ne sera jamais possible. Votre générosité, votre gentillesse et bien sûr, votre cuisine est grandement appréciée. Nous avons vraiment appris ce que ça signifie de vivre comme un Suisse. Et ça sera un souvenir que nous porterons avec nous pour le reste de notre vie. Donc… merci. 

Our experiences here have shaped us into who we are today and will continue to define us in our futures. We all started with the same shared experience of leaving the comfort of our homes and stepping onto a plane to a completely new reality.  None of us knew what to expect, but we all knew it would be unlike anything we’ve experienced before.  

Although the orientation trip helped us to get to know one another and reduce the awkwardness, it wasn’t until the local Swiss event, The Fête des Vendanges, where I think we really started to make connections and realize this was just the beginning. Fast forward to now, we, as a class have collectively traveled to a total of 21 countries this year! Each one of these trips have taught us different lessons and have brought us closer together.
Our first school trip in Juan showed me that “hikes” mean something different in Switzerland than in Ontario. I had my best outfit on, packed a small water bottle, and was ready for a nice stroll in the Swiss hills. I knew it was a longer one, but I had no idea it would be up a 45 degree angle and require bouldering skills. That trip kicked my butt, but we all made it and learned what it meant to push our limits.

The Zermatt trip taught me the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and parents do it best.  Who knew that parents were so good at dancing on tables in Hennu Stall.  The trip brought so many people closer together, and was a major bucket list accomplishment for many skiers in the audience. It also pushed first-time skiers out of their comfort zone.  Evelyn and Rebecca, how incredible is it that the first time you strapped on skis was on the Swiss Alps?

Our independent trips have taught all of us how to push forward with little to no sleep, navigate the unknown, and not rely on Ms. Persaud to deal with things that don’t go according to plan.  Like an unexpected emergency landing in Germany, and having to figure out how to get back home.  Or needing to stay an extra night in Milan because you didn't buy a train ticket home.  Or whatever happened on the boy's trip to Lisbon that we’ll never know. These unexpected events are oftentimes the most memorable and the stories we will all share with our friends and families.

Gritaly taught us about the most amazing Roman and Greek history and the rich culture of those countries.  I also learned that the human body can consume over 7 lbs of tzatziki in less than a week. 

We’ve had an opportunity most people our age will never get in their lives.  It was a hard decision to leave our families behind in Canada, but I'm now realizing that it’s going to be even harder leaving the family we've formed here and moving on from this chapter of our lives, by not having all of you as my travel buddies anymore.

We have become more than just classmates; we’ve become a family, a family with more than the average amount of gingers — a slightly dysfunctional, always entertaining, and deeply caring family. We’ve survived calculus together, we’ve listened to over 30 Friday songs together, we've enjoyed cold beverages together…many cold beverages. Thanks Carlye! Some have lost phones, wallets, and even teeth. All of these are life-long memories that we will share with our kids one day.

So, as we stand on the brink of a new chapter in our lives, let's not forget we've all been here before just 10 months ago.  We had no idea what this experience was going to be like, but we came out the other side stronger, wiser, and more resilient - ready to conquer anything that life has to throw at us.  Let's take the lessons we've learned throughout the year to make us better versions of ourselves as we embrace our new unknown. 

Most importantly let's continue to live those 2 simple words of our school motto - “Step Outside”.  Let's step outside our comfort zone and overcome our fears and doubts.  Let's step into the future with confidence, curiosity, and a sense of adventure.  Let’s continue to make memories, do crazy stuff, and cherish the family we’ve found in each other.

And there’s no better way to finish a speech than with the words of a wise owl, Drizzy Drake. We started from the bottom, and now the whole teams here. 
Congratulations to the Class of 2024! We did it!

Thank you.
Neuchâtel Junior College offers the unique opportunity to study Canadian curriculum abroad. While living in Switzerland in a French community, students enjoy an international education through travel and experiential learning in Europe. Gap year and Grade 12  high school students gain international experience and develop independence and life skills that prepare them for university and the global workplace.

A Canadian high school in Switzerland | Grade 12 & Gap