Why I told Rosemount High School grads to stay in Quebec

Steve Kowch blog photoFrom where I sit On The Kowch, I didn’t intend to get political in my Commencement speech to the 2013 Rosemount High School grads. I blame Facebook for leading me down that path. I had asked my Facebook friends what should I tell the grads. Many posted: Tell the students to leave Quebec. That’s not exactly what I was expecting. So I rewrote my speech.

But while I knew I had to address that elephant in the room, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t all that I was going to talk about.

I wanted to give the grads a pep talk. To let them know that like many of them, I too had gone through a tough period as a teenager. They weren’t alone believing they had a dysfunctional family or being bullied.

So I told them: “Don’t let the bad things cloud your future … tonight you graduate from this school. Take with you the happy memories, the positive things about your stay here and walk away from all the crap. Walk it off! Put it behind you. If you want to succeed in life, you cannot be held hostage by memories of all the bad things that happen to you.”

“Remember how you felt if shunned, picked on or ignored. Use these moments as a learning experience. You know how it feels. So make the world a better place. Be the first to offer a helping hand or words of encouragement.”

I told them to be successful in life they need to be a member of The 25 Per Cent Club.

“To be a member of The 25 Per Cent Club you must have a positive attitude. To chase your dream to be the best at what you want to do and never assume a negative outcome when you start a project. It’s easy to beat the competition when you’re a member of The 25 Per Cent Club because 75 per cent of the people you work with or compete against are negative, defeatists, lazy or forgot about chasing their dream.

“In these tough economic times, companies are doing more with less. Members of The 75 Per Cent Club are the most vulnerable to be let go. They’re the negative ones who spend more time complaining and instead of trying to figure out how to get the job done, they tell anyone who will listen that it can’t be done.”

“Members of The 25 Per Cent Club don’t waste their energy on CAN’T … they’ll find a way so that it CAN be done!”

From where I sit On The Kowch, I had no intention of telling the grads to leave Quebec. Most of the grads are fluently bilingual and integrated in Quebec society. Quebec is their home.

Steve Kowch graduated from Rosemount High School in east-end Montreal in 1968. He was invited back to RHS to give the high school’s commencement speech to the 2013 graduating class

Steve Kowch was program director of newstalk radio stations in Toronto and Montreal

He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG in Media

He can be reached at steve@kowchmedia.com