Andy Pham

Grade 8 – 2016

Hello everyone. My name is Andy Pham, your valedictorian representative for 2016. In case you don’t recognize me, I made the cheesy Eco Club ads and appeared on the talent show as the piano guy and emcee a few times. If you’ve ever had to dodge a dab at the school dance, (sorry about that) that was probably me too. First off, a shout out goes to my loving family for always having my back. I thank the teachers and the administration for leading us through the years and giving me this opportunity to speak today. Pierre Laporte is an amazing part of my journey, and I can say the same for my classmates. I’ve learned so much from all of you both academically and socially.

Now I’d like to address us, the graduating class of 2016. Taking that first step into middle school, I had no idea that the hardest step I’d ever take would be the one back out.

Sixth grade was full of surprises. As we pushed off from our familiar shores, we found ourselves in a whole new world. I still remember that fresh scent of excitement. At first things seemed impossible. The halls were a labyrinth of sweaty bodies, but piece by piece, things started to come together like a taco. Exciting to think about, messy when you dig in, yet 100% worth the chaos. To me the highlight of that year was the first school dance. Do you remember the deafening music? It was crazy!

Somewhere in between praying for mercy and a screaming bass-drop, I discovered a passion for dance. By the end of the year, we had gone from paddling upstream to sailing with the wind behind us.

Seventh grade was a very confusing year. We were no longer “kids”, but we weren’t teenagers either. We wanted more respect, but with that came more responsibilities. Assignments clustered around us, while friendly-looking letters mutated into cold numbers on our report cards. Waves of projects capsized our ships as we struggled to complete them, leaving us breathless when Saturday finally freed us. Whew, don’t even get me started on the malicious squirrel that others call puberty. Everywhere we went; it nipped at our feet just to remind us that it would always be there. Mono Cliffs was a great adventure and a break from the turmoil.  Staying overnight with friends was fun, and we all learned a lot about each other; maybe too much. I still remember how we stomped around the woods playing as settlers surviving the wilds. Eventually the skies cleared and we realized that it wasn’t that bad. Heads held up high, another year passed by.

And then came eighth grade; hard to spell and even harder to see coming. It was stunning, had two years already gone by? Just as we readied ourselves for a breezy ride over the final year, high-school season came thrashing in like siblings battling for the last can of pop. As the questions “Who are you” and “Where do you want to be” thundered about, we flinched from the sudden reality check. It seemed too soon to be making decisions about our futures, too hard to determine our paths before we had determined who we were. Yet like every tempest, like every hopeless party without WiFi, it too miraculously passed. Ottawa was another highlight, where some of us made new friends and bonded with old ones. I’ll never forget the teachers dancing or the glory of Parliament Hill. Or what about the talent shows? Man, who can forget the breath-taking moments of Karan’s magic or the dancing acts?

These past years have been incredible, and we’ve all accomplished so much. Athletes, your skills never cease to amaze us as you break expectations and push our school’s name to the limits. All of you have made us proud. My, when you broke your leg but refused to step down, you inspired us all. Olu, Kimarli, Kimanie, Kevon, Valorie, Indiana, Ali, Gokan, and everyone else who’s competed props to you all. Performers, your talents inspire us as you light up the stage each year at our talent shows and various assemblies. The dedication that you have to your skills is mind-blowing. Do you remember Top KeK? Daniel, Lamar, Dunal, Mariah – that was great.

Or how about the Concert Band and the countless singers? Let’s give it up for every individual who gave up their time to train in the name of Pierre Laporte. Let’s give it up for teachers who led us through each exhausting hour. Now let’s give it up for us, because each and every one of us contributes to this school in our own unique way.

So here we are. It’s amazing, isn’t it? As we turn around the lands where we started have melted into dots on the horizon. But then we take a breath, and the same scent comes rushing back. It’s fresh and exhilarating, slicing through our tired sighs to reveal wild grins underneath.

So let’s turn to the future, to the lands that lie ahead. Can you see them? Whether you see stadium, or labs, or any fantastic destinations that can be dreamed of, you should strive to reach them. Though the path may lie unmarked through the jungles of reality-checks and circumstances, though the unknown may shelter beasts of drama and despair, keep in mind why you came. Keep in mind the troubles you have faced, the storms you have weathered in order to get where you are now. Your destination may change, as your path intertwines with others, but no matter what, keep in mind that it’s your path.

Because in the end, it’s you who has to cross that final stretch. And though the circumstances may change as you journey on, today is a day where we all stand equally. Today is a day of remembrance, where we can look back and be proud of how far we’ve come together. Though our paths may part and never cross again, today is our day. No matter what heights you’ll reach, I hope you’ll one day look back and remember these times. I hope that regardless of the haters and the liars, the obstacles and the failures, the storms and the dangers that lie ahead, I hope that we will soar no matter what tries to drag us down. Yes, we will may mess-up over and over again. Yes, we may suffer and drown in self-pity and doubt. There’s no telling how weary our paths may be, but in the end, I think we’ll all find our destinations (even if they weren’t what we expected). I wish you all the best of luck, the brightest of days, and the strongest of triumphs. Just promise me one thing. When you reach that final destination, remember where you came from. We are Panthers. We are Laporte.

Thank you.

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Thats how he said goodbye to middle school.

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