Valedictorian Address | Class of 2023

Jun 27, 2023 | Student Story

Good afternoon, parents, administrators, teachers, staff, friends, and family. I look around and see us all connected, gathered here today to celebrate the RJC class of 2023’s transition. It doesn’t matter now where we end up, because of where we’ve been together. This class has been in the RJC vans, singing to Taylor Swift and asking Adam to please turn it up. This class has studied for finals in between their musical scenes. It’s because of small moments like these that it doesn’t matter how close or far we go tomorrow, next week, or next year. We will forever be connected as the RJC High School class of 2023. 

After Fireside, we’ll say our goodbyes, but we can always come back! Main Street and its coffee shops that fueled our friendships and finals week will be there. RJC’s brick walls that contained girls’ nights out, dance parties, the boys’ food-eating contests, and every note sung by the choir aren’t going anywhere. Adam will always be there to tell how many sig figs a science question should have, Allison will always have her calculators, precious as gold. And you’re always going to hear the Epp brothers before you see them. Rosthern isn’t going anywhere, and neither is RJC. Give it some time, and we’ll all be back to the place that connected us and that we have connected to.

Since the first day we walked into RJC, we’ve been connected; from total strangers to family. There were many things we didn’t know when we first put on our fancy threads of dress code, like the fact it would knit us all together. We had a lot to learn, but we connected as we gained this knowledge and we all supported each other through it all. On behalf of our class, I’d like to thank everyone who supported us: parents, family, and teachers for believing in us; the cooks and Li’l Bean Ice Cream for fueling us; the broader network of the RJC community (past and present), all our friends (unless a dispute of five dollars was involved), and everyone else who has connected with us on our journey. Thank you to all of you, and more. 

God created us to connect so we could love and be loved by others. We as humans cannot thrive alone, and we need others to love and be loved by. How can we grow in love if not for those late-night talks in the dorms, or that last-minute study session with classmates? 

Greek philosopher, Epictetus once asked the question: How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself? This quote has been with me for a long time, and sometimes it’s what gets me out of bed. I do believe everyone should strive for the best and not wait to do so. What I sometimes get wrong, though, is that we need others to help us reach our potential and we need others to make us our best. For example, one of the things that make you your best is being trustworthy, and you need others to demonstrate that to and to learn how to be trustworthy from. Everyone we meet has something to teach us, and the connection we’ve made here have been the bottom rungs. Don’t wait to demand the best of yourself, but you need others to bring out the best in you.

So, grads, family, and friends, what I want you to take away from me is to demand the best of yourself wherever life outside these walls takes you. But don’t forget you need connection with others in order to be your best and to thrive. You can’t do it alone.

This reflection was written and delivered by Rachel Halko at the 2023 Graduation Ceremony at RJC High School on June 25, 2023.