Sunday, 18 June 2017

Rundle College
Grade 12 Graduation Speech
June 6, 2017

Student body, faculty, parents, honoured guests and grade 12 graduates, it is my honour to address you today.  I am really excited to be here to celebrate with you!

I drew the inspiration for today’s talk from a note I recently received from a friend, here’s what it said:

“Today I was biking with my family at Goat Creek Trail and when we were just approaching Banff, I looked up at Rundle Mountain and thought how much it had seen and endured over the years.”

He went on to state:  

“This has been a tough year for the staff and the students at Rundle College, and like Rundle mountain, you have weathered it.  In addition,  like Rundle Mountain, together your community continues to stand strong.”  

After reading his note, I knew what I needed to do today, I need to speak about Rundle Mountain. I thought we might be able to learn something from the history of it’s name, what the climb up Rundle requires from an individual who attempts it and the view from Rundle’s majestic summit.

First, let’s start with the History of Rundle Mountain’s Name:
  • Rundle Mountain gained its namesake from Reverend Robert Rundle and his legacy was the creation of a small church in Alberta around the year 1850.  The church’s purpose was to support a wide variety of people including the settlers, the cree, the stoney and the blackfoot individuals who lived nearby. The church’s goal was to introduce everybody to reading, writing and growing crops.  

  • Over the years the church changed locations and it’s congregation grew.  In the end, it came together with other congregations to form what is now known as the United Church of Canada.  Beyond teaching reading, writing and growing crops - the small Rundle congregation, started by Reverend Robert Rundle, built a solid foundation of relationships and uniting people.

    • Much like the lessons from the small Rundle Church, I hope that at Rundle College in elementary you learned you to read and write, and junior high, if we count the occasional moldy sandwich in your school lockers, some of you have learned to grow crops too.

    • And most importantly, in your high school years you have continued to fostered strong relationships: Graduates, you can mark my words on this one, the greatest gift you will receive from your education and your time at Rundle College are those relationships which united you and provide you with friendship and purpose as you move into the next chapters of your lives.  You will always remember the relationships you’ve formed during your time at Rundle.   

Secondly, Let me discuss the climb up Rundle:
  • To climb Rundle Mountain, the actual mountain, you need to ascend 3255 feet, it is a scramble that extends beyond 6.5 km, one way.  It is an unpredictable ascent which can only be achieved by those who are skilled and who have the stamina to overcome the challenges they face during this arduous ascent.

  • Graduates, on your scramble to the top of your Rundle College’s educational mountain, you have done all the things you would have needed to do if you were seeking to climb Rundle Mountain - you have become skilled and you have demonstrated great stamina.
    • With respect to skill, I want to draw on the work of Cal Newport, in his book, “So Good They Cannot Ignore You.”  What I have learned from him, is that ‘nobody is born an expert, at anything.’  To get good at something, whether you are climbing a mountain or learning to be a doctor, it takes time and hard work.  As you put the time and hard work into whatever you are pursuing, you are developing a thing called professional capital.  In time, and after some hard work, you can then take that professional capital and cash it in for the work or career you always been pursuing.  

    • Now in climbing the mountain, I suggest you also need to show great stamina.  I won’t belabour the stamina part as I suspect your stamina for speeches is diminishing  - but I will say this, I put it into the speech to remind us all, we still have 3 weeks left… so hang in there and keep the energy up for the those inevitable opportunities to demonstrate achievement (aka: your diplomas) and the many celebrations that are yet to come!

Finally: What you see from the summit of Rundle:  
From the top of Rundle Mountain, you get a stunning 360 degree view of the Rocky Mountains and the Bow Valley.  It’s as though you are standing on top of the world.

Today, graduates, you have earned your place on top of the educational world.  You are graduates of Rundle College.  If I might, let me take a second to brag for you, because I know as a group you are too modest to do it for yourself.  In my opinion, here are a few of the items you would see if you took a 360 degree panoramic view from where you sit today:

  • University and College Acceptance Abound: As a group, you have gained nearly 300 university acceptances.  This is a really big number for just 84 graduates.  These universities and colleges range from the top schools in Canada to those around the world, they are both academic and technical, they are big and small.  What the common thread is, they are the universities and colleges of your choice.  Join me in congratulating our graduates on this amazing achievement.  

  • Curricular and Co-Curricular Accolades are literally scattered everywhere: You have earned local, provincial and national praise in areas ranging from volleyball and basketball, to reach for the top, to track, to band, to wrestling, to business competitions, to CAUSE, Prefects and Peer Support, to Golf, to travel to service and to to cohort of students who piloted Rundle’s Leadership Program.  It is literally impossible for us to keep on top of your achievements, if I were to list them all, we’d be here well into the evening, and for the sake of brevity, I’ll just say this, you are simply an amazing group of talented individuals. Once more, please join me in congratulating our graduates.

  • Next, let’s discuss the Scholarship Numbers: Back to academics for a second, and this one may take a few moments to digest, together, the 84 of you you have earned $800,000  in scholarship money to date.  One more time, $800,000,.. Wow.  I fully anticipate, for the first time in Rundle’s history, this number will approach or exceed $1,000,000 by the fall.  Grade 4-11 students - this is a record that will be tough to beat!  I think that’s worth a round of applause too.

  • Finally, if you were to look down from the metaphorical summit of a Rundle College education, you’d see something more often than acceptances, accolades or scholarships, I suspect what you’d see most is exceptional character traits.  Graduates, you are men and women of true character.  The true demonstration of character comes in the smallest of conversations we’ve had over the past days, the times when you’ve stopped in the hallway and asked your teachers or each other, from the bottom of your hearts, “How are you doing today?”  

Graduates, your character will be the trait, along with relationships, skill and stamina, that will differentiate you from everybody else.  I have no doubt, that you are fully prepared to climb whichever mountain lies in front of you, in the next chapters of your lives.

To close, let me re-articulate what my friend said in his letter, “Graduates, you have seen a lot and endured a lot over your years - but, as I address you today, you stand strong and proud.  This is a testament to the strength of each and every one of you, the strength of our Rundle community and the strength of your graduating class.”

All members of our Rundle College Community, please join me in congratulating the graduating class of 2017 - we are so very proud of each and every one of you.

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