Presenting Our 2023 Valedictorians
At our Grade 8 Graduation Ceremony held on June 20, 2023, we had the immense pleasure of recognizing and celebrating seven outstanding students, representing both branches, who were selected as our Valedictorians. Mazal Tov to the three remarkable emcees, Sam Haidenblit, Addison Cohen, and Etye Metser-Friedman, for guiding us through the memorable ceremony. We also congratulate the four talented Valedictorian speakers on their inspiring speeches, delivered in the four languages taught at Bialik — Sadie Dudkiewicz, who addressed us in Yiddish, Maya Croitoru, who spoke in Hebrew, Ryan Geller-Benmergui, the accomplished French Valedictorian, and Ryan Grevler, our thought-provoking English Valedictorian.
We would like to share excerpts from our Valedictorians’ remarkable speeches, which embody the spirit of achievement and maturity that characterizes our graduating class.
“Throughout our years at Bialik, we have not only gained knowledge but have also forged lifelong friendships. We have laughed together, cried together, and grown together as a community. Our friends helped us through struggles, and we returned the favor. Without an “us”, none of us would be the same “me.” These friendships have taught us the true meaning of unity and have given us a deep sense of belonging. As we part ways and move on to different schools, I hope we remember to cherish these friendships and nurture them. They are a gift that will continue to enrich our lives.
At times we were also some of our own best teachers. We made mistakes and learned from them. We taught ourselves right from wrong and developed the values we will have until the end of time. We planted the seeds to the tree of our life and evolved into the people we are today. Let’s make a commitment to always being uniquely ourselves. Notice the things you love about yourself and embrace them. We all deserve to be our truest selves. After everything we’ve been through in the past, we made it. Welcome to the present.”
Ryan Grevler, English Valedictorian
לֹא סְתָם אוֹמְרִים שֶׁעִבְרִית הִיא הַשָּׂפָה הַשְּׁנִיָּה הֲכִי קָשָׁה לִלְמִידָה, וַאֲנַחְנוּ בְּהֶחְלֵט יוֹדְעִים אֶת זֶה. מִכֵּיוָן שֶׁאָנוּ בּוֹגְרֵי בְּיָאלִיק, זוֹ הָאַחְרָיוּת שֶׁלָּנוּ לִשׁמר אֶת הָעִבְרִית וְאֶת הַיַּהֲדוּת אִתָּנוּ לְתָמִיד. בְּהִזְדַּמְּנוּת זֹאת אוֹמר תּוֹדָה לְכָל מִי שֶׁיָּצַר וְעָזַר לִיצֹר זִכְרוֹנוֹת כָּל כָּךְ מַשְׁמָעוּתִיִּים: למוֹרִים, לַמְּחַנְּכִים למְנַהֲלִים, להוֹרִים, וְלַמִּשְׁפָּחוֹת שֶׁלָּנוּ, תּוֹדָה רַבָּה. בִּזְכוּתְכֶם אֲנַחְנוּ יְכוֹלִים לִהְיוֹת הָאָמָּנִים, הַסְּפּוֹרְטָאִים, הַמַּנְהִיגִים הַצְּעִירִים, וַהֲכִי חָשׁוּב- הַיְּלָדִים שֶׁאַתֶּם מַכִּירִים
הַיּוֹם. נִשׁאר בְּקֶשֶׁר, תּוֹדָה וּבְהַצְלָחָה
“There is a reason that people say Hebrew is the second most difficult language to learn, and we are definitely aware of that. Because we are Bialik graduates, it is our responsibility to preserve the Hebrew language as well as our Jewish identity. I would like to take this opportunity to thank every person who created and helped form such pivotal memories: to the teachers, Mechanchim, administrators, parents, and our families, thank you so much! Thanks to you we can be the young artists, athletes, leaders, and most importantly – the children you know today. Let’s stay in touch! Thank you, and good luck!”
Maya Croitoru, Hebrew Valedictorian
“De la première année à la cinquième année, nous avons appris dans un nouveau petit bâtiment. Puis, juste avant l’arrivée de Covid, nous avons appris que nous allions déménager de l’autre côté de la rue. Beaucoup d’entre nous n’étaient pas certains à l’idée de quitter nos salles de classe si confortables. Mais, comme Jim Carrey à dit: “Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you”. Ce que ça veux dire, c’est que: Quel que soit l’obstacle qui se présente à vous, il vous servira toujours à apprendre comment surmonter les différents défis et situations dans lesquelles vous pouvez vous trouver. Le déménagement des bâtiments a été rapidement suivi par les fermetures de Covid, qui nous ont appris à nous adapter rapidement au changement. Le retour à Bialik après la pandémie a entraîné de nombreux changements auxquels nous avons été obligés de nous adapter.”
“From first grade to fifth grade we were learning in our new, small building. Then, just before the arrival of Covid, we were told that we would be moving to the other side of the street. Many of us weren’t too sure of the idea of leaving the comfort of the classrooms that we had grown up in. However, as Jim Carrey once said, “Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you”. What this means is: Any obstacle thrown at you will always serve to teach you how to handle different struggles and situations you may find yourself in. The move to the new building was quickly followed by the COVID lockdowns which taught us how to quickly adapt to change. The return to Bialik after the pandemic brought with it many changes to which we had to adapt.”
Ryan Geller-Benmergui, French Valedictorian
“Ever since we started learning Yiddish, I fell in love with the language. In the Senior Division, we uncovered the roots of the Yiddish language and how it flourished over the years through the pages of the beautiful literature. It’s so special, and I truly feel lucky that out of all the Jewish schools in Toronto, we’re the only ones who get the privilege to study our dear Mame Loshen. Thank you to Bialik for Yiddish night, where we learned about Yiddish culture and everyday life from different time periods which allowed me to connect with my ancestors in a way I could have never imagined.”
Sadie Dudkiewicz, Yiddish Valedictorian