Good it in class periods, counting down the day

Good morning family, friends, faculty, and fellow students. Well, we did it. This morning we are celebrating our graduation from secondary school – a major early milestone in our life – and in doing so we have integrated ourselves into the real world. It seems like only yesterday that we were those small first years, too nervous to sit in the canteen and who instead froze on the benches outside at the height of winter. We had colourful locks on our lockers, keys on our chains, and a constant bewildered expression as we tried to navigate our way through this enormous school. Although I could spend all morning reminiscing over the past six years – from our first endeavour to Carlingford to our trip to Norway last year – my speech today will focus on our future.Let me begin with a brief introduction: my name is Aoife Kealy and I have been a student at Malahide Community School for the past six years. Remarkably, each year seems to have passed by more quickly that the one before. How do we measure the time we’ve spent in secondary school? In the beginning, we measured it in class periods, counting down the day to eventual freedom. As the days and weeks passed, we measured it in terms, and later in years. By the time we reached our fifth year, we were confident that we were prepared to take over for the graduating sixth years, and we couldn’t wait to ‘rule the school’.And now here we stand. Our rule is over, and it’s up to the next class to step into our shoes and take over. I know that as I look out at all of you, I will measure my time here in a much different way. I will measure it in all the friendships I’ve enjoyed these last six years. Coming in every morning and knowing that you’re welcomed by the group, by the individuals, knowing that you can have a joke or a chat with anyone – just being comfortable – is a great feelingAs a group, we have been through a lot. We have learned to share the anxieties of school life together, to laugh together, and to sing ‘The Addam’s Family’ soundtrack together. My optimism for our future has been strengthened by you all. You have constantly encouraged me to keep moving forward and, as Dory aptly put, to ‘just keep swimming’.Today is a celebration that represents a gateway to our future. Two months from now we will all be standing in this hall once again, receiving our Leaving Certificate results. From that moment onwards, each of us will begin a new chapter in our lives. Some of us will go on to college, others will go straight into the work force, but each of us will travel our own path. The path forward may be an uncertain one, with many twists and turns, but we all must be confident and optimistic that we will reach our destination towards self-fulfilment, whatever path we choose to follow. The most obvious challenge ahead of us is the two weeks of exams coming up. It may seem daunting to sit in a hall, pen in hand, anxiously watching the clock, waiting for each exam to begin. A year of constant study, six years of knowledge, all to be examined in several hours. Like the rest of you, I am exhausted. But why should we take our foot off the pedal now, with such little left to go? I am sure the teachers present here today will agree with me when I say that if we have made it this far, with all the roadblocks and bumps along the way, we can get through another fortnight of work! The hardest part is over. We are on the road to bigger and better things.We will experience both good days and bad days. Sometimes the future can seem dull. Embracing change can be challenging. However, some of life’s greatest moments have yet to come; falling in love, starting a family, moving into a new home, and of course, the Debs. It’s scary to think that the Debs will be our last opportunity to be together. Although I will – hopefully – see most of you in D.C.U., that isn’t the case for everyone. Some of us have applied for colleges in different cities, counties and even countries. Others will spend the next year travelling. I wish you all the best of luck for the next few weeks, and of course, the next few years.Before concluding, I would like to thank our year heads, past and present: Ms Morrissey, Ms Garvey, Ms O’Riordan and Mr Hickey. We must have set a record for the most year heads for any single year group! Thank you for always being there for us. However, my final words go to the class of 2018. Fellow classmates, the future is bright, shape and mould it in a way that best fits you! Thank you for all your support, your friendship and your undying spirit that has urged all in our year to believe in themselves, each other, and in our future. Have a great night and thank you for listening.