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A Little About KCS’S Valedictorian Aiden San Andres

My name is Aiden San Andres and I was fortunate enough to be voted upon by my peers as this year’s valedictorian. I want to thank everyone who thought that I was deserving of this great honor and privilege. This year’s graduating class is filled with people who are just as deserving of this title as I am, if not more. 

I was born in the Philippines almost 18 years ago and spent most of my life there, creating friendships and a very special bond with my cousins and family that I will cherish forever. When we left in 2015, I learned the importance of family and how much you miss them along with the memories you’ve created with them. You never truly understand just how precious those moments are until you start growing up and can no longer relive those days. I guess there really is no way to know you’re in the good old days until you’ve left them. 

Leaving my home was bittersweet, but it meant that for the first time in my life, I would be growing up with both of my parents. Ever since I was born, my parents have strived to provide me with a good future. One with more opportunities than the one they had growing up. Of course, this meant sacrifices for both of them. Part of that was my dad working overseas. It was difficult not growing up with my dad, and with my mom working late hours at a call centre, I spent most of my time with my grandmothers. Without my grandmothers being able to take care of me, I don’t know what my life would be like today. Shoutout to all of our grandparents for always taking good care of us!

Two of my favourite things to do are: play sports, and work out. I love playing sports because of the competition. When Covid put a stop to that, I had to find a different way to compete. However, because of the covid guidelines, the only person I could constantly compete against was myself. I am thankful for that time alone though, it helped in forming the person I am today. Working out was great because once you get out of the intimidation process you first get when you walk in the gym, you become comfortable and start pushing yourself to greater feats. I like working out because there’s a certain aspect of it that you can apply to your life. No matter how many times you fail, you can always try again.

What has been your favourite part of high school?

My favourite part about high school?  The extra-curricular activities. From the SLC that plans events such as spirit days and pep rallies for the school, the drama club which we unfortunately haven’t had since Covid, and the school sports, extra-curricular activities provide an opportunity for everyone to shine and excel in things that they are interested in. It also allows for them to learn new skills, and meet new people. Throughout my time in high school, I have been a part of the SLC, the volleyball team, the football team, and the basketball team. Being involved in these things has allowed for me to meet new people and form strong friendships in and around the community. Without my involvement in extra-curricular activities, I would not have met some of the most impactful people in my life. Especially my basketball coaches Angy Johnson and Jason Hankewich. Angy has always believed in me on and off the court, she allowed me to grow as a player and had me play for the high school during my grade 7 year. She also believes that I will do great things off the court because of the qualities I have shown such as my ability to lead. I only really got to know Jason this year, however, he has taught me the importance of working hard and being confident in the work you put it in. I think the most important thing he taught me was to stop doubting myself and get out of my own head. As cliché as it sounds, we are our own worst enemy. 

Biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced in high school is being able to balance work, sports, school, and my own personal life. I applaud everyone who was able to find the right balance to all three during their senior year because I could not do it. Senior year is an enjoyable time but it can also become very overwhelming very quickly. 

The biggest challenge I’ve faced in life is being able to talk about the hardships and struggles of life. I’ve always thought that talking about these things made me weak, and as a result of that I’ve always just tried to keep it to myself. After all, the things that I’m going through are nothing compared to everyone else’s. As I’ve found out though, talking to someone about the tough times are important. Tough times are inevitable and I couldn’t be happier with the people I’m surrounded with. They’ve helped me more than I could ever put into words. Brennan, I’m always here for you man.

What and where will you be studying next year?

Next year I will be attending the U of R’s Media, Art, and Production program and major in film. 

Why did you choose that subject and what are your future career goals and plans?

I chose to apply for a bachelor in fine arts and major in film because I’m hoping that when I finish the 4 years, I can use it as a pathway to bigger things that involve me working on tv/movie sets. I want to learn more about the ins and outs of film and learn more about what goes into writing, directing, and producing a film. I understand that it will be difficult, but that only ensures me that it’ll be worth it. I hope that in the future, I can increase the representation of Filipinos in mainstream media. In Hollywood, the number of Asian actors is growing and I want to be a part of that and hopefully show other people who can relate to my story that anything is possible. If other people who have had it worse and managed to create a pathway to succeed in their own ways, then so can I. I hope that one day, I’m able to achieve my dreams and create a path for others to follow so that they can walk through life unafraid to chase our goals.

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