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Head Girl Akarty Dhesi ’21’s commencement address

Akarty Dhesi ’21, Head Girl, shares with us her commencement address from the Class of 2021 graduation ceremony this past June. Akarty has attended Crofton since Grade 8 and was heavily involved in the theatre and improv program. She is an aspiring writer. One of her goals in life is to introduce more diversity in literature and uplift marginalized voices in writing. Akarty will be attending UBC Sauder School of Business in the fall. 

Greetings everyone! Whether you’re watching from home or are lucky enough to be sitting in this room, I’d like to take a moment to give a warm welcome to the class of ’21 Blackjack.

Hi. Hey you guys. So. I was sitting at home thinking about what I wanted to say to all of you, because this is kind of a big deal, and the perfect idea struck me when I received a text from a fellow classmate calling me a loser in all-caps after I lost a game of 8-ball. It reminded me of a wonderful incident that occurred in Grade 9. 

Do you remember when we were all called to the theatre for a grade-wide talk because we were “too mean”? Because I sure do. I remember the phrase “the older grades wanted me to talk to you because they think you’re too mean” very clearly. At the time, a lot of us were a little confused as to how on earth we were terrible enough to warrant a talk in the theatre but looking back at it, I think having that lecture made perfect sense. Because we are really mean, and I’m going to address that issue again right now so that the message sinks in. 

One — we’re mean because we push each other, both in the halls and outside of them, but also to go for our goals. The amount of times I’ve heard the phrase “just do it” from people in this grade could earn us a sponsorship deal from Nike. Should I apply for this job I’m not qualified for? Just do it. Should I send this risky text? Just do it. Should I ask this teacher to raise my grade by a couple of percent? Just do it. Even if a lot of it is in jest, I think we’ve actually conditioned each other to be ambitious. Considering the amount of talent in this grade, I’m glad we did because you guys are going to “just do it” all the way into leading incredibly successful lives. 

Two — we’re mean because we fight … granted, it is usually for each other, but I had to bring this up. Going further than just telling people to go for what they want, we support each other through the process. Standing behind a peer while they ask a teacher for an extension, hyping up a classmate both before and after they post a picture, and jumping in on conversations to say, “yeah, you’re right. They really didn’t deserve you, you can do better.” Take that attitude with you no matter what happens. Fight for your friends, of course, but also never forget to fight for yourself. I know it’s hard to treat yourself with the love you show others, but having seen how far we’ve come since Grade 8 both physically and mentally, you deserve to take care of yourself just as you’ve done for everyone else. 

Three — we’re mean because we don’t back down. We tackle challenges head-on, no matter what life throws at us. You guys, we dealt with COVID this year. Give yourselves some credit because I sure am. We can tell our grandchildren not to complain about anything since we dealt with a pandemic during senior year but we can also tell them about all the crazy memories we made despite the circumstances. I’m sure there’s at least one grad lounge gossip session you’ll never forget, one near-death experience in someone’s car, or one joke in class that left you laughing for a little too long. We know how to create our own positives … but there’s one challenge I haven’t mentioned yet. One that I find a little harder to deal with than the rest. The challenge of letting each other go. 

And this leads me to the final reason, folks. We’re mean because we hate each other. I mean, I really hate you guys. I hate you guys for leaving. Some of you are going as far as Europe, others to America with a lot to California, and even the ones staying in Canada … I used to think commuting from Richmond to Vancouver was hard. But hey, we’re not going to let this challenge be the one that breaks us, alright? We’ve been preparing for this one for a while, even if it doesn’t feel real. Remember that your teachers’ and parents’ unconditional support is unconditional and just like the rest of us, they are so ready to see you thrive. Remember that you’ve made it a long way since coming to CHS and your growth doesn’t stop here. Remember that you are loved and appreciated for who you are by an entire school of people and that list will expand to include many more in the years to come. 

So stay mean, ’21 Blackjack. Stay mean and true to yourselves, and build a castle out of all the cards life is going to throw at you. Thank you.