Hello, my name is Carl Camagay.

And I am Shania Garcia.

I’d like to begin by thanking all of the parents, guardians, and staff members that have supported us through our 4-year journey. Thank you for the time, effort and the sacrifices you’ve made in order to lead us towards the right path.

Thank you for caring for us; especially our vocational teachers. To call them our teachers is underrated; as time passed by, they became our mentors. We thank them for seeing and unlocking the potential in us.

I’d like to personally thank my parents and older brother for always being prepared to provide everything I need and for having faith in me. I will forever express my gratitude and do my best to keep making you proud.

Thank you to my parents who have sacrificed so much for me and my sister. I promise that I will continue to make you proud.

I want to acknowledge the efforts of all the staff and students throughout this unfortunate pandemic. As a Tec-Voc senior, I want to let my fellow graduates know how each and every single one of us should be proud of the hard work and dedication we put into finishing high school.

Although it’s cliché, we made it. Today is the day we thought we would never experience. Literally. Most people made fun of our year because we were set to celebrate our grad through a Zoom call or a Google Meet. That we would receive our diplomas in pdf form – all the Tik-Toks and memes depicting a virtual grad saying that our year has it the worst. Well, why don’t we look at it this way? Our year is the only year that everyone will remember. Who wouldn’t remember the year where all brands of toilet paper sold out? Who wouldn’t remember the year that Barack Obama and Malala Yousafzai honoured the High School Class of 2020? There is nothing compared to the class of 2020.

We had to sacrifice our last months at Tec-Voc together. It’s hard to think about the laughs, activities, and memories that we never got to experience. Being in quarantine was not exactly how we envisioned our last months. Although our sleeping schedules became a disaster, we ate five or more meals a day and spent our days behind screens of social media and video games, there was a silver lining to it all. As Mr. Lomas said: “The air seems cleaner, there are less cars on the road and more pedestrians; there is less air traffic and the right people are getting praised instead of athletes and celebrities. People seem to be more conscientious of hygiene and health.” We did what we had to do so that we could keep ourselves, our communities and our world safe. That is how the class of 2020 will be remembered.

Looking back, you can’t deny that we had the opportunities to make tons of great memories. From cheering on our sport teams, being wowed by the projects made by the vocational students, or even watching our performing arts programs. And for those that have been at Tec-Voc since freshman year, do you remember DTC winning the Staff vs Student dance rally? What about how our entire grade always happens to be the loudest during gym riots? Whatever your personal experience may have been. I’m sure it is all worth treasuring.

As seniors, I think we can all collectively agree that there are tons of things we’re going to miss from high school. Whether it be individual accomplishments, lessons from our favourite teachers, or an amazing lunch you purchased from the cafeteria. I want all of the Tec-Voc staff to know that we are incredibly grateful that they made all of these experiences possible for us.

The bonds that we have with our teachers here at Tec-Voc are irreplaceable. I’d like to take the time to thank the teachers who have made my years at Tec-Voc special. Thank you, Mrs. Mira, for being the role model you are; you’ve supported me and guided me since the day I set foot in your grade 10 class. You’re the coolest. To Ms. Marr, that one person who made each and every single student you’ve taught feel welcomed and appreciated. Thank you for letting us into your classroom even though we were such a pain to be around; you stuck with us and kept it real with us. Thank you for all the hard work you put into everything you do, Tec-Voc is really lucky to have staff members like you.

There’s a quote by a famous actor named Will Smith, and it goes “Fear kills your ability to see beauty.” To me, he’s saying that fear is what holds us back from seeing the positive impact of our efforts. An important lesson that I learned throughout being involved in performing arts is that staying inspired is enough to conquer this fear. Having faith in yourself and your capabilities is one of the best gifts that we all carry.

I still remember the time Ms. Sofia sat down the entire dance team just to tell us individually that she believed in us. That moment was all I needed in order to replace my fears with inspiration, and for that, I will forever be grateful. Ms. Bouchard, for all the times we greet each other whenever we have the chance, thank you for never failing to make me feel welcomed and appreciated.

Looking back at our four years of high school we can’t help but laugh and reminisce. Freshman year seems like so long ago, and it’s probably hard to recall much. All I know is that I can’t help but cringe every time when I look back at all those photos and videos.

Our freshman year felt like being handed a new canvas so that we could have a fresh start. It was a chance to reinvent ourselves. A common thing that many artists experience is despising their own creations, and that was the case with myself and the people around me. I was unhappy with the way I presented myself before high school, but all of that self-doubt and unpleasantness began to fade when I entered Tec-Voc.

In sophomore year, we were overwhelmed by the abundance of sports, clubs, classes and vocations Tec-Voc had to offer. This was the year where we made new friends, friends who still have a special place in our hearts – friends and teachers whom we made unforgettable memories with.

The people that used to be as scared as me looked more comfortable. We didn’t even realize that we were learning to move forward and that we were taking initiative to teach ourselves how to open up to others. We took risks, made memories, and began developing into the people we are today. Do you

guys remember karaoke week in the theatre and how much fun we all had? We cheered for each other and sang songs that made us reminisce all the good times. It felt like all that mattered was to make sure we were enjoying the moment.

And of course, we would extend those memorable moments to junior year. The year where we were old enough to finally get our licenses. The tests, exams and long classes we had to go through felt like a perpetual loop.

We learned that while growing up, all of us are like artists and our greatest canvas is the way we portray ourselves. Everyday turns into an opportunity for us to work towards completing that piece of art.

Senior year felt like everything was on fast-forward. I didn’t realize that Tec-Voc would become my second home. I didn’t realize that I would meet such amazing people. I didn’t realize the future I started here, and that one day I would have to leave it behind to begin my future. If by chance, we weren’t stuck at home, we would’ve added more things to our list of memorable moments. I mean, let’s be real, if grade wars happened, us seniors would’ve won fair and square.

As years passed, I observed the community around me and it felt like there was a place for everyone to belong. I’ve witnessed the growth in my fellow graduates every year and it brings me great joy to see those who used to have scared frowns now show the sincerest smiles.

Our anxiousness began turning into excitement, fears turned into goals, and self-doubt turned into motivation. The works of art that we created pieced together to make a breath-taking picture known as the class of 2020. Now, we get a chance to give ourselves recognition for all of the hard work we put into making our goals into reality.

WE ARE LUCKY to be called graduates of Tec-Voc, a school that harbours excellent students, whether it be in business, carpentry, baking, automotive, dentistry, graphics, electrical, theatre, dance, you name it. Know that there is a place for everyone here at Tec-Voc. As we receive our diplomas today, let us be reminded of how far our hard work has taken us.

So, when you start to feel overwhelmed and uneasy about moving forward, always remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Muhammad Ali once said “I hated every minute of training, but I said “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”. No matter what life throws at us, we can surpass any obstacles because we are the class of 2020.

Ru Paul says “Fulfillment isn’t found over the rainbow – it’s found in the here and now.” Grads of 2020, celebrate what you’ve already achieved and don’t worry about what you’ve yet to reach.

It is with great honour for us to have been this year’s valedictorians.

Here’s to the class of 2020 and on behalf of all of us, thank you