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F.P. Walshe school valedictorian Carlin Van Driesten urges classmates to conquer challenges

Valedictorian Carlin Van Driesten

Valedictorian Carlin Van Driesten gets her diploma from principal Bill Forster.

The Class of 2015 valedictorian urged her classmates to be unconquerable.
Carlin Van Driesten said everyone faces adversity, whether by chance or choice, but must maintain the attitude to be unconquerable.
“As we become affected by the uncertainty of every new first experience we should come to realize that we are forever in control of our own mental and emotional ability to persevere,” Van Driesten said. “Circumstance doesn’t define who we are, rather, our ability to overcome.”
F.P. Walshe school held its cap and gown ceremony for the Class of 2015 on Friday at the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre.
Chris Schalk, a teacher at F.P. Walshe school, introduced the valedictorian as a person of integrity and strong character who is a leader and role model.
“The person who earned the honour of being the valedictorian was undoubtedly a young lady who made things happen in our school,” Schalk said.
Van Driesten and Raj Parmar were the recipients of the Danny Van Wyck Memorial Award, presented to the outstanding students at F.P. Walshe school.
The co-presidents of student council the past two years also received the Wes Olmstead Leadership Award.
At Blue and White Night earlier this month, Van Driesten was named to the Order of Walshe for her work on student council, was a co-MVP on the grad committee, received a certificate award for We Day projects, and was named most valuable player and appointed to the Order of Walshe by the senior girls volleyball team.
Van Driesten maintained the highest average in the Grade 12 class and earned a number of academic awards and scholarships on Friday afternoon.
“As a father of two young daughters myself, the highest compliment I can pay is that I hope that my own girls grow up having the same integrity and class that I witnessed in this lovable young lady,” Schalk said. “As the valedictorian she is following in some pretty prestigious footsteps, but I fully believe she will go on to make some amazing things happen on her own. Wherever she goes she will be a person who makes things happen.”
“Just as she impacts our school she will impact our world.”
Van Driesten spoke of the swift passage of time from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and the transformation that took place as they overcame the struggles of life and made choices that shaped them into the people they are today.
“These struggles pushed to make important decisions that have impacted both the way you perceived yourself and how you are perceived by others,” Van Driesten said. “But each struggle you faced and will face in the future are in fact gifts,”
Van Driesten quoted the poem Invictus by Maya Anjou that reads people are the captains of their soul and masters of their fates.
“Invictus emphasizes great symbolism on the role of individual power. It states that happiness is not defined by perfection or greatness, but rather by ability to persevere.”
Van Driesten told her friends and family members gathered Friday afternoon for the cap and gown ceremony of her own personal challenge with a cancer diagnosis when she was just 13 years old.
The news was devastating, but even at that young age Van Driesten knew she couldn’t let the cancer diagnosis define her.
“It was a suddenly devastating reality that immediately took its toll on my confidence,” Van Driesten said. “Believing that I was powerless, however, was wrong. Cancer, like other things, is just an example of an inevitable hardship. I learned from facing it that no matter how powerless you feel, the greatest achievement is conquering your own disbelief. Perhaps you can’t avoid the hardship, but you can choose to keep your head up and keep going.”
Van Driesten told her classmates to know they can depend on their family and friends.
“Allow their love to inspire you and give you strength when you need confidence,” Van Driesten said.
The second lesson Van Driesten shared is to learn from past but not let it hold them down.
“The final lesson is that as you face every challenge in life, be unconquerable,” Van Driesten said, referring again to the message of Invictus.
“If you maintain an attitude to be unconquerable you will gain love, experience, confidence, determination and pride in knowing you have done your absolute best.”
Van Driesten challenged her classmates to seek out struggle and adversity that will test their strength and character.
“Go out there and find opportunities in the midst of difficulty. Be unconquerable. If anyone can do it, we can.”