The Class Salutatorian is the graduate representative of the entire graduating class. He or she might be active in co-curricular and extracurricular activities or showcases great leadership. As Salutatorian of the CIS Graduating Class of 2022, Renee shared with everyone her story of personal growth at CIS.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is an honor to be here. I'd like to show appreciation to all of my teachers, friends, and family members who have assisted me in getting to where I am now: Standing in front of you.
First, congratulation to the class of 2022. We made it through high school!
Behind the success of our class is the support of CIS’ principals and teachers. There would be nothing without them. Thank you.
Getting to this point was not easy. Trying to work hard often caused me stress. I sacrificed times where I could have been socializing with friends or my family. I even sacrificed time spent with myself.
I learned a lot of things in high school, but one of the most important lessons I learned was this: Working hard is admirable, but it should not be done just for the sake of achieving a goal at the price of relationships. I have recognized that achieving the grade was a price I had to pay for neglecting my connections with people. I am happy for my success, but, if I could go back, that’s what I would have told myself, and I hope it’s a lesson I remember for the rest of my life.
As most of you might know, I have changed significantly as a person throughout Grades 11 and 12, which has been surprising even to me. But why? What was the reason for a significant change in such a short amount of time?
At the beginning of grade 11, I was a student who strove for a high mark, but I didn’t put any effort into my academic learning. Even though I would ask for help, it didn’t always look like I was trying my hardest.
But eventually, I discovered a pathway for me to study “efficiently”. Being able to focus while studying is important, but I think the other part of studying is handling time responsibly. I set up a timetable that kept track of hours, days, and months. Using this tool, I finally reached a point where I saw my learning progress. Although it was tiring and sometimes stressful, in the end, I came to enjoy it. I came to love the sense of accomplishment when teachers handed back the exam I had worked hard on. The feeling of satisfaction was one of my key motive for studying. It helped me become an independent learner and someone who took initiative to make myself better than I was before.
One of the most important moments in my learning was a conversation I had with another student, even though it was a very short conversation. They approached me one day and told me that I had motivated and inspired them. It was the first time I understood that I had improved my attitude toward studying. Up to this day, I am well supported by those words. Those words gave me unlimited courage. Those words helped me when I felt stressed out. Those words held me together as a person who dares to chase impossible goals and challenge every obstacle. Those words gave me the motivation to realize I have the potential to do even better than I can do before.
When it comes to facing those obstacles, I’ve learned something else from another important event in my learning. I’ve often come up against problems that I thought were caused by those around me. One day, I questioned my parents about this: “Why do problems always start with other people?” Their only response to me was, “Why don’t you reflect on what you did?”
Okay, sure, that made me upset for a little while, but then I came across an ancient idea from Confucianism: “Turn inwards and examine yourself when you encounter difficulties in life.” As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned how to self-reflect, and, from then on, I’ve certainly recognized that, even if problems sometimes start with other people, I should always look for the part that I could improve in a problem with others. Every time I do, I make better progress in improving myself.
A piece of advice from Michelle Obama which inspired me was a quote she said: “The moment that defines us is not the day when you win ‘student of the year’, but times that force ourselves to claw and scratch and fight just to get through the day. The moments when you get knocked down and you’re wondering whether it’s even worth it to get back up.” So, if we are willing to dig deep, pick ourselves up when we fall, and work until our weaknesses become our strengths, we will create a set of abilities that we can apply to any consequence that we are going to face throughout our lifetime.
After learning from all the great people who have inspired me, and drawing a conclusion based on my experience, it would be: Never say, “I can’t do it.” Rather, say: “How can I do it?” There is nothing impossible if we are desperate enough to try. We are only limited by what we allow ourselves to be limited by: our ideas. We are each the “sovereign” of our reality. Once we acknowledge this, anything is possible.
In conclusion, I would like to thank again all the teachers who have been the source of our lessons, and our parents, who have been the source of our life. We did it, you and us, and we appreciate CIS, the school which made each of us collaborative, innovative, and successful. We, the class of 2022, are a powerful force. Even in small ways, we will push the boundaries to make the world a better place. Always remember where you came from and always remember where you are going. Congratulations, Grade 12’s.