Sebastian Guzman Leal directs his admiration to fellow 2022 Chemainus Secondary grads during his valedictory address. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Sebastian Guzman Leal directs his admiration to fellow 2022 Chemainus Secondary grads during his valedictory address. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Valedictorian’s address

Speech by Sebastian Guzman Leal to the Class of 2022 at Chemainus Secondary

Following is the address to the Class of 2022 at Chemainus Secondary School by valedictorian Sebastian Guzman Leal:

Wow, what a surreal moment. Here I am, representing the voices of my friends and classmates in this moment that once looked so distant and foreign. The day on which we close a very important chapter in our lives. As some of you may know, I traveled here from Chile nearly six years ago, filled with uncertainty to face the unknown. I had no mastery of the English language.

I felt scared and alone many times, not knowing whether I could overcome this challenge. In that moment, life introduced me to people who became key to my insertion in this country, who with time turned into very dear friends and supported me during tough times.

Once again, I find myself at the door of a great challenge, away from the safety of high school that, in a way, has become a second home. We are expectant and hopeful of what comes ahead.

I would like to take this opportunity that has been granted to me by my fellow classmates, to ask us to undertake this new challenge that the future holds with faith and hope that the right people will come into our lives, and that the friendships that we have built in the last few years will be the pillars of support we will need on hard days. Life does not have to be perfect to be beautiful. It is up to us to see it as a half-full glass of opportunities.

I clearly remember arriving at the school in Grade 8. Everything looked so big. I remember taking my first classes with some of the people who sit beside me today, and I am thankful for the new ones who joined us along the way. I have loved working and learning along with my classmates, and I consider myself so lucky that I spent these years with them.

I feel honoured that they are allowing me to represent them today. These are the people who included me when I needed it most, who were patient with me when I had trouble with words, who cheered for me when I scored a goal. I will forever be grateful to them for helping me in times that it may not have been obvious I needed help. I know that there will always be good things to say about them.

This 2022 graduating class is filled with amazing people. All of us have lots of potential and talents, some of which we may not have explored yet. Today, our question should not be: “What will I do with my life?” or “What will be my occupation?” Instead: “Where will I start?”

For each and every one of my classmates, with whom I have few or many experiences, and that have helped in many ways to shape my life, I would like to wish you, just like a toast where I am from says: “Salud, amor, dinero, y tiempo para gastarlos.” This translates to: “Health, love, money, and time to spend them.”

There will be hard times in which we will feel like we are crossing a fog bank. In those times, I wish that we can all find our way and remain brave in following our hearts and our passions, living life with intensity and wisdom. The future can only be better. It does not matter how quickly we go forward, what is important is to never stop, to be true to ourselves, to discover our talents and to develop them.

I wish for the sun to always shine on my peers’ paths, that a light breeze always pushes them forward, and that when we reach adulthood, that we can all be proud of the young people we were. I wish that the decisions in our lives come from bravery, not fear, that every day in our lives will have a purpose, and that we are a contribution to our society, becoming part of the solution for this world that already has enough problems. I wish that every beautiful moment that we lived within these walls stays in our hearts and memories forever.

Thank you.

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Valedictorian Sebastian Guzman Leal enters the gymnasium for the grad ceremony Friday. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Valedictorian Sebastian Guzman Leal enters the gymnasium for the grad ceremony Friday. (Photo by Don Bodger)