International College Hong Kong
Jun 01, 2017

Solving the Rubik's Cube of School

Kenny Ng's Year 13 valedictorian speech

Well graduates, we’ve made it. As a group, we did indeed start from the bottom. Now it looks like the whole team is here. Think about how far we have come, as individuals and as a class. It seems like it was just yesterday, that we went on the induction camp. Then, there was the first higher level math test, the first IA, the second IA, the third IA, the ‘realising that it’s not going to work if you start writing your 4000 word extended essay a week before it is due’.

As a class, we’ve also experienced a lot of change. Different music, different internet trends, different dance moves. We’ve lived through the epidemic of whips, the nae naes, the dab (oh man…)

But before I start discussing which move lowers the average IQ of ICHK the most, let's take a left turn, and look through the lens, or prism, of a confused secondary school student.

Secondary school was like a Rubik's cube, it's the time where we take off our blindfolds in which we picture the world as a land of chocolate ponies. We break from our primary schools filled with joy, happier times and the lack of assignments and homework. We take this blindfold off and we start to learn the basics of this cube. At first, intimidated and intrigued, we begin our first attempts at solving this puzzle.

Slowly over time, we learn it through trial and error, guidance from our peers, family, teachers and through countless failed attempts. Before you know it, we solve one side of the puzzle.

Since I do have your utmost attention, I was initially planning to lecture you all on how to solve this complex, engineering masterpiece. I'd just love to give you all a taste of what higher level math and physics felt like when your brain desperately wants to starve itself from oxygen, as you forget how to add fractions. But I'm not a mean person so I will digress. Instead, fast forward a few years, countless sleepless nights, psychological breakdowns, and we finally reach our first major challenge.

Imagine this, you finally decide that you want to settle down, and find a girl to marry. You start searching around, and before you know it, you think you've found the perfect partner. This person is nice, smart, sexy, fun, anything you want from a human being.

So what do you do, you start planning how you are going to propose to her, you plan out every small detail for the big day. You practice in the mirror, you try to present yourself as best as you can.

As the day looms in, you start to panic. She is already waiting for you at a specific location, and you are starting to regret, you tell yourself "maybe I shouldn't propose", “maybe I’m not good enough” as well as a dozen other questions. But you finally make the effort, you take a deep breath and you tell this person your feelings and you finally ask her the question, in which she then replies to you, in a calm and soothing tone, "I'll get back to you in three months". At this point you're definitely nervous, but little does she know that you've actually proposed to five other backup girls just in case this fails.

In case you were wondering, that's what applying to university feels like.

Now fast forward another few sleepless nights, psychological breakdowns, and we are finished with our IAs, EEs, TOK essay, TOK presentation, FOAs, orals, 265 thousand keystrokes in Microsoft word and we reach the final stretch of the IB diploma. A time where all of a sudden, the demand for coffee spikes, and anxiety levels have reached an all-time high. Yes, this journey has come to an end, but I guess one would stop to look back at the tremendous road we've treaded, the different terrains we've had to conquer, to climb, to fall on.

And to get here, I'm sure the class of 2017 would agree that it definitely has been a struggle. It was never a walk in the park, more like a walk through Jurassic Park...

We have all experienced our fair share of upset, including me. I won’t forget the day that I first saw the Ironman movie. I ran downstairs, and I said to my mom “when I grow up, I want to be iron man and save the world”. My mum said, “Kenny grow up, you graduate next week…”

But with all honesty, the class of 2017 is definitely a resilient one. I’ve never seen so many face masks in front of tired faces in a day. The fact that we made it here, decorated with awards and accomplishments, is just a testament to our perseverance, and commitment to excellence.

I look up to a lot of great educators, or ‘really smart people’ . Street poet and esteemed philosopher Drake once said : “Know yourself, know your worth, last name ever, first name greatest”. Although it sounds like he was bragging to me, I urge all of you to stay humble whilst conquering through the excruciating pain and suffering that one has to go through, in order to achieve success. When we stumble and fall, or when we start from the bottom, we should not ever quit. There’s an old saying, that if you hang around the barber shop for long enough, sooner or later you’re going to get your hair cut. I hope that all of you remember, that hard work and dedication is the only way to true, long lasting success.

"We live in an age where we are surrounded by the vacuous, instant and ephemeral fame of YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. People rise, seemingly from nowhere to astounding success, leaving us looking on in awe at their "talent". But the truth is far more complex, and real, meaningful success takes time and failure and pain and suffering". – I guess I will never forget these words from Mr. Parker.

Hence, I urge all of you to keep your heads up, stay humble, and push through whatever is blocking your way. It may take hours, days, years, even decades, but remember, the light bulb was only invented after 1000 failed experiments by Thomas Edison.

In a few months’ time, we will all disperse like little bacteria, single cell organisms with no brain. We will no longer be a class, and instead scattered across the globe, but I know that we will carry a little bit of each of us wherever we go in the future. No longer are we high school students, but instead, we will be headless chickens running around in an ecosystem that is highly unfamiliar, called society, or harsher reality. And it is our role in which we will learn to integrate to, but at the same time attempt to stand out. It is my wish that all of you, to become little strobe lights in the demographic.

So now, with exams looming in, all we need to do is turn the final few sides…and you finally solve your Rubik’s cube. So, now it’s time to say goodbye to high school and say hello to college…

I would like to thank everybody in this school, because without all of you, this ecosystem would not be functional. This ecosystem would not be lively, thriving and filled with young talented minds. Without the help from all the teaching staff from day one, I don’t think that I will even have the ability to write this speech at a reasonable level of English. I can see Ms. Lee is secretly full of anger over any grammatical errors in this speech, I hope that I can make it up to you in my final exam.

Finally, I am truly grateful for what my class has done for me during the past years at this school. Although it is true when they say that all great things come to an end, some way or the other, I am truly thankful for everyone, and I hope to see you all soon.

And on that note, I guess it is safe to say, to ICHK's class of 2017, that class is officially dismissed.


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