By Heather Cameron
For Westwind Weekly News
“There is always room for improvement, always room for growth,” Raymond High School Class of 2015 valedictorian Tyson Jerome emphasized in his valedictory address that he gave at the Raymond High School graduation ceremony on Friday night.
Before the valedictory address, Mr. Ron Fromm of Westwind School Division made a special presentation to the school and then Principal Jim Ralph had a few words for the graduates.
“We are very proud of you as the staff of Raymond High School; we’ve enjoyed the three years with you and we wish you good luck as you go,” Principal Ralph said. “This is a class that has been very engaged in many of the organizations in this school from Show Choir to band and many of the other organizations to Student Council and our athletic programs and did excellent in everything they achieved here and participated in.”
Valedictorian Tyson Jerome then spoke, “Without the hard work of all of our teachers, we could not be where we are today,” Jerome said. “Their willingness to put in extra time to help us achieve our goals and their efforts to actively engage us in class discussions. It is because of these efforts that we are able to accomplish the most difficult tasks that the school has to offer.”
“Coaches have a great impact on how we learn to play the game and if it is done right, lessons of perseverance and mindset that go beyond the game,” Jerome said. “Hard work and dedication are the only things that will get us anything truly worthwhile. Our constant, never-ending and often neglected homework reminds us that our work is never done.”
In regards to the future, Jerome had much to say, “If one imagines the future, I’m confident you will see times of prosperity and downfall, happiness and sorrow, but these assumptions are based off of our interpretations and observation of the past,” he stated emphatically. “What we need to realize is that we are the future in the present. All we have to do is make vision a reality is reach forward and bring it back.”
Jerome then quoted Malcolm X, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it,” and also U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s admonition, “Whatever you are, be a good one,” and encouraged his fellow graduates and everyone else in the audience to extend themselves, not to go after a certain job just for the money. True happiness, Jerome said, is what motivates people to get out of bed every day and decide to work hard.
“Without the incentive of happiness, the motivation to work hard is gone,” Jerome said. “If you have a dream, protect it and don’t let anybody change it because there will always be people to tell you that you can’t do it because they can’t do it themselves. When this happens, I hope you respond like the great Muhammad Ali. I hope you turn and say, “Let me show you how great I am.”
After a performance from the RHS Show Choir, the evening’s keynote speaker, orthodontist Dr. Alan Gibb, took to the podium and shared his speech. “They’re a special bunch of kids, I know them,” he said. “Several of them, I helped coach and I got to know several of them in that environment and also through my orthodontic practice. You guys are a special bunch of kids, you’ve been moulded and prepared, refined by Raymond High School and the Town of Raymond and you are poised to tackle life on your own and to make your mark in history,” he said.
“I’d like you to think about the last three years did you do everything you were expecting to do?” Dr. Gibb asked. “Did you reach your potential? Is there any regrets? I’m sure your parents have lost a few sleepless nights, some of them probably lost a few hairs, and some of them probably turned grey as the years passed through the years. None of that matters now, I can tell you that. Nothing matters in the past. The only thing that matters right now is what you do tomorrow and where you go from here. I can promise you that and you guys will be great. I know you’ll be great.”
“You know your parents, you know your heritage, you know where you were raised, and we know the environment in which you’ve been in,” Dr. Gibb said. “You guys are truly red and white and the expectation in Raymond is high. This environment that you’ve been accustomed to is something you won’t experience in other places and because of the experience in the community from which you’ve been raised in, you’ll be accustomed to achieving great things and the achievements that you’re gonna go forward with will be sky-high.”
Dr. Gibb then used a David and Goliath like analogy and said that David never thought he was undermanned and never thought the odds were against him. Being skilled, confident, and prepared like David was, Dr. Gibb said, helped David to do exactly what he knew he could do despite the odds against him and despite people wondering how he was going to succeed.
“With expectations high here at RHS and in Raymond, you grads will be successful in doing what you are expected to do,” Dr. Gibb said. “The community that Raymond has been and always will be a legend that will never die. Use your inner David to dig deep, reach high, and leave a little piece of Raymond wherever you go.”