Congratulations Graduates of 2016

June 20, 2016 - 18 minutes read

Good afternoon invited guests, families, staff, and graduates.
Happy Father’s Day and welcome all to the West Vancouver Secondary School Convocation, 2016.

The ceremony that we are sharing in today is a very special one as it marks a significant milestone in not only the lives of some 325 students but also their parents, guardians, primary care givers, extended family, friends, and teachers.

Being a West Vancouver Secondary School graduate places you in a league unlike any other as you now form the next layer of this school’s legacy; a legacy which has been developed, created, nurtured, and honoured in only a way that a Highlander can over the past 90 years.

As you stand on the brink of transition from the life you have known as high school and prepare for what will occur perhaps faster than you like into what we refer to as life, I encourage you to take the time to reflect on where you have come from, how you have contributed, and why you sit here today.

Author H. Jackson Brown Jr. said “Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.”

Having watched you navigate your way through high school I am confident that many of you have experienced this very feeling at different times. You are all talented, and in more ways than you probably know. When you combine your passion with the talent that you both have, and continue to develop, you are each capable of achieving your dreams and goals. Today’s ceremony is a celebration of you reaching one of those goals, with or without your roller skates on.

There is little doubt in my mind that West Vancouver Secondary School students are offered some of the richest and unique opportunities to learn both in the classroom and after the regular school day. You may be of the opinion that we are resource rich in this area. I would like to remind you that without the extraordinary and often unsolicited efforts of your teachers, and other adult leaders in our school, that these resources would be simply that, resources, and little would come of them.

It is you the students who provide the critical ingredient. Without your passion for learning, exploring your options, engaging in activities that you may otherwise shy away from, and generally allowing yourself to experience these opportunities . . . our programs, teams, bands, and clubs would not be the envy that they are today.

As your educators we are proud that our students continue to perform among the best in British Columbia and among the top in our district. This is a credit to our staff, to the support of your parents, and to you the students. As graduates of West Vancouver Secondary School you can expect to be as competitive with any other student in the world and achieve success; you have enjoyed a full and rich experience.

Alexander Graham Bell was observed to say that “when one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us”. I suspect that this may not necessarily reflect this particular year’s graduation class, as in the short time that I have known you it is abundantly clear to me that many of you like to keep all doors open and for as long as possible.

One of the things that I commonly share about West Vancouver Secondary School is that the students have an incredible amount of pride and respect for themselves, their school, their community, and their world. I expect that you will carry these attributes with you wherever you go.

I trust that you leave here with a series of strong and powerful relationships with both the students in your classes and the adults in the building. Hopefully you have known and felt how we have cared for you and that we have always had your best interests at heart above all else.

I also hope that there has been relevance to your education and that as you move forward on your life journey into new environments and experiences that the skills we have taught you and the values that we have instilled will help guide you.

I know that when the time is right, if you have not already done so, you will join me in thanking your teachers for their commitment to you as well as for their passion and inspiration. The staff at West Vancouver Secondary School exemplifies what I consider to be a true educator.

Whether it was those after school tutorials, trips to Uganda, France or Germany, countless hours on the field or in the band room, coordinating a fashion show, or peaking your interests in robotics, amnesty, multiculturalism, the environment, or at a minimum the untold hours and effort that goes in to the preparation and facilitation of 96 lessons for every course that you took, we are all fortunate to have had the experience, wisdom and opportunity to share the school with this amazing group of people.

This year marks the last for teachers Mrs. Hanci Ping, Mrs. Sandi Leidl, Mrs. Anne Langdon, Mr. Tom Slade, and library assistant Mrs. Anne Wyness as they head off into a well-deserved retirement. On behalf of the staff and students we thank you for sharing your wisdom, leadership, and experience with us in careers that I hope have been fulfilling and rewarding. You will be deeply missed.

To the parents and guardians, thank you for entrusting your children to us in this important period of their development. It is a responsibility that we do not take lightly. Each day we have watched over them as if they were our own to educate them, guide them in their growth, and keep them safe for you so that they may come home every day, only to return the next. We know that you have great hopes for your children and we share those hopes and dreams with you.

To the graduates, you will soon be graduating from a school that takes immense pride in its diversity, actively participates in our community and honours excellence across all areas. When you look back in time and reflect on your experiences here or are part of a future conversation where the question of the school you graduated from comes up, you should feel a deep sense of pride that you were not simply a part of West Vancouver Secondary School but rather you were a critical component that both supported and continued the unsurpassed legacy that this school enjoys.

I would like to leave with you today with the words of Dr. Seuss from the book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”. If you are not familiar with this book or do not have a copy, I highly recommend it.

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the person who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.


You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

On behalf of the faculty and staff at West Vancouver Secondary School we congratulate you on your accomplishments and thank you for giving us the opportunity to be a part of your lives. It is truly an honour for me to serve in this community and this school as principal and it has been our pleasure to watch you grow into the outstanding young people that we are here to recognize this afternoon. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation, we truly wish you nothing short of success in the future.