SUMMERSIDE – As 2014 Three Oaks Senior High valedictorian Tanner Mendoza started wrapping up his speech he started, well, rapping up his speech.
“So live your life, and chase after your dreams
Take chances, push yourself to extremes
I can’t believe this has been 12 years of my life
It’s like I’m in a marriage and school has been my wife
Now my time up here is getting short
So let’s board this boat and sail from this port,” belted out the Summerside resident to a catchy background beat.
The actual rap was much longer but these lines pretty much sum up both his song and his speech.
Speaking before Tuesday night’s graduation at Credit Union Place, Mendoza said he’d originally been having trouble writing his speech.
His teacher consultant suggested he try thinking outside the box, so he came up with a poem.
Being a vocalist and somebody who enjoys rap music it wasn’t much of a stretch from there to incorporate that style into his speech.
Bottom line, he just wanted to have some fun with these people who’ve meant so much to him over the years, he said.
He was honoured to represent them.
“Just knowing that my classmates trusted me with this speech meant a lot in itself,” he said.
Most of them have known each other for 12 years, or longer, he added, so it felt a little bittersweet to preside over what will likely be the last time they’re all together.
But they’re all going on to bigger and better things.
Mendoza wants to create videogames so he’s heading to the Vancouver Film School for Game Design.
Classmate Jeremiah Henderson of Summerside, is heading to Holland College to be a wind turbine technician.
Caraleise Laughlin, of Lot 16, wants to be a forestry technician and is heading to Fredericton to pursue that.
“I never liked being indoors. I’m going to be outdoors – not sit behind a desk all my life,” said Laughlin.
Eric Heisler of Summerside, is planning to take a year off and examining his options.
Tuesday was a big night for him – it’s something he almost didn’t get to experience.
He went down a troubled path for a while, he said, and didn’t receive any credits his first year in high school.
Seeing that report card without a single credit on it was like a slap to the face, said Heisler, and major wakeup call.
He went to summer school, pulled up his socks, and pulled himself across the graduation finish line.
“School was never my thing. I didn’t go a lot, I didn’t care. But I came around last year, decided it was time to smarten up,” said Heisler
“It’s a relief – I never thought I was going to be here this year. It’s awesome. I grew up with everyone here pretty much my whole life. I’m graduating with all my best friends, so I couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said.
Look anywhere Tuesday evening and there were stories just like these.
Everyone with a dream career, proud story of accomplishment, or both.
Whatever the future holds for them, they have a lot of potential, said principal Nicole Haire.
She sent her students, the first class she ever had as a principal, off with these words.
“I hope you know how much we care about and love you. And I hope you know how proud we are of your accomplishment. You’ve left your mark on our school and our community, and now it’s time for you to go out and make your mark on the world, and I have every faith that it’s going to be a positive one, because you are graduates of Three Oaks Senior High.”