Dr. Leanne Foster’s Commencement Address to the Class of 2019 on Trafalgar Day:
Parent, family members, faculty and staff, students and honoured guests. We are here to celebrate the remarkable young women who make up the Class of 2019.
Ladies, I have watched you navigate your way to this moment in time. It has been an honour to walk beside you in this, your final year, at Trafalgar Castle School.
Your final year at the Castle will forever be aligned with great events from around the world – events that will go down in the annals of history. I want you to remember that in your grade 12 year: Saudi Arabia allowed women into soccer stadiums as spectators for the very first time; Professor Donna Strickland of the University of Waterloo became the first Canadian woman and only the third woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Physics; humanity saw its first image of a black hole in space; and, the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship.
There is much we can learn from each of these monumental events. The fight for equality shown by the brave women of Saudi Arabia, an unquenchable passion for discovery that drove Dr. Strickland’s work in experimental physics, and the power of the universe to remind us that we are part of something much greater than ourselves.
And then we have the Raptors. What can we take away from this team and its remarkable achievement?
In many ways, the lessons offered up by this championship team are aligned with everything we have tried to reinforce throughout your time at the Castle, everything you need to remember, to help you on your own journey.
In the story of this team’s incredible path to victory, we see an unbelievable commitment to hard work, an understanding that skill is derived from years of practice, that knowledge comes from hours of study, and that dreams are only realized through perseverance, resilience, and a humbleness that allows us to learn from our mistakes.
This story also teaches us that success is not always assured, even with hard work and commitment, that the path we travel is rarely an easy one, and that sometimes, we will fail. Sometimes, our best shot comes up short. Wanting the win, isn’t always enough. And, despite our best efforts, that dream we have feels like it’s slipping away.
But we also learn that hidden deep within those moments of self-doubt, of disappointment, of discouragement, is your opportunity to dig deep and to remember who you are. It’s a chance to remind yourself what you’re made of. To accept that you’re not perfect – you’re human. You’re not always going to get it right the first time. In fact, you might not get it right the second time. But from your time at the Castle, you have learned what it takes to get the job done. You’ve been given the tools you will need to move yourself closer to your goal. And in the face of setbacks, you’ve been taught how to rework a plan, how to analyze any problem, how to use feedback, and how to get back in the game – not to give up but, yes, to endeavour.
But here is perhaps the most important lesson to remember. It’s the thing that struck me most when I watched the Raptors play and when I heard interviews of players and coaches following their victory. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are not alone. You are part of a team – a beautiful, diverse sisterhood that’s been forged over 145 years. You are stronger together. Wiser together. And able to go farther when you draw on the skills, wisdom, advice, compassion, and friendship of one another.
Even though you are embarking, each on your own journey – journeys that will take some of you far away, to the corners of the earth – you remain connected forever by your time together at Trafalgar. You remain forever teammates, sisters, and now, alumnae.
I, for one, can’t wait to see what dreams you pursue, what paths you will travel, and what achievements are in your future. Please keep us in your minds and your hearts as you undertake this next exciting part of your lives. And please know, Trafalgar will always be here waiting, to welcome you home.
Congratulations, Class of 2019.