Good evening fellow students, teachers, parents, family and friends. Welcome to the 1994 Junior High awards. It’s my great pleasure to be hosting such an auspicious event under the bright lights of the school cafeteria that has been hastily converted into a banquet hall for the night. Some of you may know me as “that kid from home room last year” or “that kid who wears the Mondetta sweater with the Swiss flag on it” or “that kid who walks laps around the hallways during lunch hour with a purposeful gait to appear as if he’s going somewhere even though he’s just trying to kill time and not have to sit alone.” When I was asked to host tonight’s ceremony, I was both honoured and intimidated. I mean, who would have thought they’d enlist an unassuming 14-year-old in Grade 8 whose two main interests include Sega Genesis and, more recently, swimsuit model Kathy Ireland? I’m not exactly the triple threat of Billy Crystal but I’ll do my best.
A lot has been going on in the world so far this year, hasn’t it? NAFTA came into force at the beginning of the year. Shout out to NAFTA. Us students, of course, have no clue what that is as we’ve been too busy in Social Studies class trying to memorize the provincial capitals for our final exam next week. Mr. Murdoch – is he here tonight? – you aren’t going to trip us up again on that whole Saint John versus St. John’s thing – we all know the apostrophe “belongs” to Newfoundland. You old dog, you. Or should I say, you old Labrador? Our Language Arts teacher, Miss Hall, would call that wordplay.
In other news, it’s been over a year of Bill Clinton as the President of the United States. Slick Willie seems alright. He’s no Jean Chrétien though, is he? Now that dude is a straight up gangster. When Chrétien followed through on his Liberal Red Book promise to put six billion dollars into an infrastructure program, I was like, “Whaaaaaaat?!” No doubt we had our own wild year in school politics. It was a tumultuous election for next year’s student body president with Sandy losing narrowly to Andre with a record 5% of students casting a vote. However, scandal ensued when it was discovered that the current president, Paul, was propping up his buddy Andre as a Manchurian candidate so that he could continue his mandate to have Pogs recognized as official school currency. After it was revealed that Paul promised several students a pack of Sodalicious fruit snacks if they voted for Andre and sworn testimony from Andre that he “didn’t even wanna be ‘presented’ (sic),” Sandy was awarded the presidency. Good luck to her next year!
But enough about politics. It’s been an interesting year so far in sports. The New York Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup. Then those crazy Canucks fans nearly burned their city to the ground in a riot. Damn. Not a great look for Canadian hockey fans but sometimes you have to make mistakes so that you don’t repeat them. On a similar note, in local sports our junior varsity girls volleyball team made it all the way to the city championships where they lost three sets to two in the semi-finals. One of the parents had to be forcibly removed from the gymnasium after threatening the referee’s life. Charges are pending but we all support Elsie’s mom. That net violation call was borderline at best.
In entertainment, we’ve seen a lot of great movies. Ace Ventura is simply the greatest thing that’s ever been put to film. Who would have thought that pretending to talk out of your butt would be so funny? The answer is everyone who goes to junior high. Literally all of us. The movie Blank Check delighted teens everywhere with the story of a 13-year-old kid who forges a check for a million dollars which, of course, is the most amount of money possible. He spends the million frivolously on a castle-style house and extravagant toys until he’s forced into debt, teaching us the important lesson that it would be mind-blowingly awesome to have a million dollars. Meanwhile, our drama department was no slouch when it came to putting on an entertaining show. The showcase this year was a production of the Gilbert and Sullivan musical H.M.S. Pinafore. Nothing draws in the junior high-age crowds like a 120-year-old operetta about marine romance. Leading man Drew put in a tour de force performance as The Captain, although some would question Mrs. Abernathy’s decision to cast a pubescent mezzo-soprano boy in a role intended for a baritone. Regardless, the arts critic (Mrs. Abernathy) raved in the Monday morning newsletter.
So now let’s talk about what we’re all here for. Tonight is the night we hand out awards for excellence in a wide range of fields. And seeing how it’s a packed house, you’re all clearly just as excited as I am to recognize the amazing accomplishments of our students and teachers. I see that Alison and Darryl are here – they’re nominated for best couple for the second year in a row. They’re sitting together so I assume they’re back on good terms. How many times have you two broken up this year? Half a dozen times? I’m just funning you two, you’ll always be together. There’s Tanis – her nod for boldest fashion statement is not without controversy as these nominations were made a few days after she was the first person to wear a pair of overalls with one of the straps undone. Two weeks after she started this fad, Tanis was actually one of the most vocal opponents of the “posers” who followed her lead. That stuff is too wild for me. Give me a No Fear shirt with some trash talk written on the back and a pair of heavily pleated Buffalo jeans and I feel like Zack Morris. By the way, you’re looking rad tonight in that Hyper-Colour tee, Tanis. Arthur’s here to accept his award for coolest dance moves. He won by acclimation as he’s actually the only person to have ever busted a move at a school dance. And I’m pretty sure he was dancing sarcastically.
We will pause in the middle of the traditional categories to recognize Grade Niner Terry who will receive the first annual Thinking Outside the Box Honour which will henceforth be awarded to a student who uses creativity and innovation to excel scholastically. I myself owe a debt of gratitude to Terry for his landmark idea to look up the volume of the encyclopedia for the capital city of the country on which a term paper is based when the volume for the country has been checked out or stolen from the library. I found myself in quite the bind last month when my paper on Peru was due and I couldn’t find the P in the library. How else would I possibly learn anything about Peru without that section of the encyclopedia? It would be physically impossible! But then I remembered Terry’s sage advice – find the capital city and you can still turn in a decent paper! Fortunately, “L” was available and I managed a B+ paper based on the information I found on Lima. God help you if you’re assigned a country like Belgium whose capital is Brussels and the “B” is missing. But the idea is brilliant, nonetheless. Thank you Terry!
While it’s nice to recognize students, we would be remiss if we didn’t hand out a few awards to faculty. Mr. Halpern, the computer teacher, is here – everyone give him a hand. He’s nominated for best vocational teacher. I can attest to his effectiveness as an instructor as he taught us Grade 8s how to create two-dimensional images on a computer screen of all places. Only 10 months and roughly 2000 lines of code later, I managed to create a computer image that resembles Fido Dido. It would’ve looked better but I ran out of memory on my 8-inch floppy disc. He’ll be in tough against Mrs. Belltram who teaches home economics – surely none of us will forget how to stitch together a plush toy after taking her class. And while that’s a vital skill, there may be no expertise more invaluable than the ability to develop our own film in a dark room as taught by our third nominee, Mr. Mooney.
Now, before we start handing out these awards, I just want to reiterate what an honour it is to be a part of this prestigious ceremony. And I think it’s important that we all reflect on how lucky we are to be here in this moment celebrating the positives. Sure, we have our flaws. There are things that we’d all like to change about ourselves. And, at times, we might think that being in junior high is the absolute worst. And sometimes we dream of days to come when everything is different. And easier. And just better. But I have a feeling that one day we’ll look back fondly and reflect on how these halcyon days were some of the best times of our lives. Or, at the very least, they made us into the people we will become. Once again, thank you for being a part of it all.
So let’s get the festivities started, shall we? Our first presenter is Bradley who will be handing out the award for student with the most obscure sports team on their Starter jacket…