Home
/
Alumni & Friends
/
Events
/
Encaenia
/
Encaenia Archives
/
Brendan Morrison & Jordan Lester’s Valedictory Address

Brendan Morrison & Jordan Lester's Valedictory Address

Over the course of the past four years, Jordan and I have written numerous letters to our parents about our time here at university. And today, as we celebrate our departure from King’s, we thought it would be fitting to share a few of these letters with you, starting from the beginning.

Brendan:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Here I am, on my first day of University. How truly grand. The school is quaint and the students seem delightfully eccentric.

Jordan:

Dear Mom and Dad,

University is different than I thought it would be. The campus is the size of my tree-house and all the students wear gowns. This isn’t anything like the Porky’s movies you used to rent me when I was 15.

Brendan:

We just had our first Foundation Year lecture. Dr. Kyle Fraser gave an incredible speech about how we’ll be tracing the origins of Western thought, and made a brilliant reference to Dante, saying that throughout this course, we would have to go through the depths of hell in order to reach enlightenment. Wow.

Jordan:

I’m not sure I’m getting this philosophy stuff. We had our first lecture today, and I’m pretty sure the professor told me to go to hell. I thought I was coming here to study journalism; but it turns out I have just a single night to read all of Plato’s Republic. Wow.

Brendan:

I remember how you described your university experience. How university is so large and no one will ever know your name. I guess King’s is sort of like that. Except, I think I’ve already met everyone.   My class just has twelve students in it, and tonight I’m drinking sherry at the President’s house.

Jordan:

Today was my first day in journalism school. Everybody in the class looks funny. I sat beside a guy named Mike Kimber who gave me an origami crane. My professor’s name is Bruce Wark and he sounds like an intoxicated Peter Gzowski. He told us all about deviation and dissent. At one point, he went so far as to tell us that if we didn’t become good journalists, then the right-wing corporate blood suckers were going to consume every aspect of our lives and excrete it as an Orwellian nightmare. I like him already.

Brendan:

Oh, and I’ve met a new friend. He lives above me and invites me up to hang out and eat pizza. It’s really nice to be making such a strong connection.

Jordan:

I guess everything’s going pretty well. Except there’s this annoying pest downstairs who always comes barging into my room. He doesn’t even ask and just wanders in and eats all my pizza.

Brendan:

Dear Mom and Dad,

I completely agree with what you said about going to university out of province being a real cultural experience. In Nova Scotia, people often like to go to pubs, drink a glass of beer or ten, and sing aloud to local songs. So, don’t worry, I’m following your advice and really trying to embrace this way of life and truly immerse myself in the culture.

P.S. …Could you send a little more money?

Jordan:

Halifax is a great city to go to school. It’s got a huge park on the coast; lots of great restaurants; and a semi-pro hockey team. I’ve actually never been to any of those places or seen any of those things, but I sure do like the Casino. I remember what you told me about gambling, so I promise I don’t go often. The other day, though, Boy was I on a roll.

P.S. …uhh, send more money.

Brendan:

King’s has a bar of its own, called the Wardroom. The other day I went in there and met two guys named Sandy Fortune and Simon Loeb. We began discussing the King’s sports program, and started wondering what the teams name at King’s even was. Loeb decided that whatever it was, it should be changed to “the Worthless Hippies” to better reflect the students. Sandy and I agreed that Loeb is kind of a savage and that listening to Oasis could very well be ruining his mind.

Jordan:

I spend my Monday and Friday nights at the Wardroom where they serve me all the beer I can drink at a price far below market cost. One of the bartenders, Jane Baldwin, told me that they’re losing lots of money, but I can’t see how. I always have fun when I’m there. Sometimes, a little too much fun…I may or may not be dating Tim Butters.

Brendan:

Dear Mom and Dad,

After this second year, I think I’ve found what I want to do with my life. My time here at King’s has developed within me a profound appreciation for the liberal arts, and because of that, I think I want to become a philosophy doctor. That way I can cure people’s phenomena with a touch of pneumonia, and diagnose their benign or malignant Goethe’s.

Jordan:

I think I want to get a BJH and a BA in IDS, then get an MA at UBC, OK?  And FYI, IBM gives PhD’s to MA’s in BC. (ahhh, LOL)

Brendan:

But I’ve also taken an interest in politics. I think this is due in part to the various political philosophers I’ve read over the past few years. What Plato describes as a philosopher king, the perfect ruler of the government–he’s okay. But Machiavelli’s Prince has really taught me a great deal. Actually, in all honesty, of all the political philosophers I’ve been most impressed with the teachings of Matt Stasyna’s Frog King.

Jordan:

I’m leaning towards a career in business mainly because I don’t think I’m cut out for the world of journalism. I get this feeling from my ethics of journalism course. I learned the other day that apparently you’re not supposed to take gifts valued at over 20 dollars from the subjects of your story. Let’s get serious though, if I’m reporting on the fire department saving a cat from a tree and for some reason the old woman who owns the cat wants to give me a Lamborghini and ski vacation in Gstaad, I’ll probably take it. I am only a mere mortal.

Brendan:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Now that it’s second year, I’m getting on really well at University and am developing more and more intimate relationships with my peers.

Jordan:

You know, I’m really getting on well at University and getting to know people so much better.

Brendan:

I’ve kind of got a crush on somebody.

Jordan:

I think I’ve found someone really special.

Brendan:

His name is Mike Stacey.

Jordan:

I long for Mike Stacey.

Brendan:

Dear Folks,

There’s this despicable tradition at King’s called the 3-legged race. Basically, it involves everyone getting dressed up in the most outlandish costumes I’ve ever seen, tying their legs together in a ridiculous manner and running around the campus like buffoons chugging beer.

Jordan:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Best. Day. Ever.

Brendan:

In fact, the bizarre traditions at King’s seem to occur almost weekly. The other day, I saw Elliott Bent dressed in a gown, donning his crown as the elegant Ms. King’s. You see, uh, there’s this pageant, and, uh, never mind.

Jordan:

Yesterday was the Ball. Everybody wore formal outfits from the thrift store. My friend Alex Boulos wore a lovely flannel blazer with shiny gasoline coloured pants, complimented by his snake skin cowboy boots. He looked great.

The Young Alexandra Society put the Ball on. This is another one of those King’s societies whose purpose is not exactly clear, but I know they do lots of neat things. I’m not allowed to be a member of this society. As I understand, it’s only open to the girls who live in Alexandra Hall, the all female residence. I tried applying under the pseudonym Christina Keys, but they saw through my disguise. Anyway, the Ball was fun, the drinks were plentiful, and I stole Alex’s snake-skin boots.

Brendan:

Dear Mom,

I have entered my final year here. Fourth year. For some, it’s actually their fifth year, and for the odd one, their seventh. But, hey, who can blame them?  They just can’t get enough Pasta Fantastica from Sodexho. That or they’re still trying to work their way through Proust. Understandable either way. Even I have been thinking about stretching my degree on for another year–only for me, it would just be to receive further tutelage from the Reverend Tom Curran on the virtues of well-crafted facial hair.

Jordan:

Dear Mom and Dad,

It’s great being one of the big kids around school. It feels like high school again, when all the niners had to look at the ground as they walked pass me or else I’d put them in the trunk of my car and drive them to the industrial park and drop them off. I swear, if you switch the grade nines with the first years, the situation would be identical. I’ve noticed that even the staff finally treat us with respect. Gone are the days when my tutors and Profs would ignore my phone calls and e-mails, give papers back two months after they were submitted, and continuously call me Jason even though they were well aware my name is Jordan. But the older I feel around campus, the more I start to realize that it will soon be all over. And that scares me.

Brendan:

As each day goes by, the stark reality of graduating and leaving university draws ever nearer.

Jordan:

I’m not sure I can make it in a world that doesn’t have free foosball, patchy facial hair, and where people won’t chuckle when I affirm that post-modernity is indeed not incredulity toward metanarratives. (Pompous laugh in unison)

Brendan:

I remember when I first entered King’s, and began my pursuit of this “education for education’s sake.”  I didn’t know what that meant at first, or what it involved. But there is this exceptional atmosphere of learning that pervades The Quad–the feeling that we are all in this together, united in our search for truth, knowledge and personal growth. And it’s not just the symbolic columns or statue of Aeneas that create that either. It’s the insightful, personable, and so-honest-it-can-be-vulgar teaching style like the great Laura Penny can demonstrate during a single cigarette on the front steps. It’s how you can walk into the Registrar’s Office and be asked how your third-year middle-eastern history class is going before you’ve even sat down. It’s a President who invites you into his home, and appears in your plays.

Jordan:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Life is nothing but a series of transitions. Some transitions last longer than others, some transitions are more influential than others. When we first came to university, we were right in the middle of a transition from adolescence to adulthood. This transition took a few years and withstood many failures to achieve its proper belonging. The truth is that today is the last day of a very important part of our lives. It represents an end.

Gone are the days where we can sit on the front steps of the Library in the sun and chill. Gone are the days when we can call people on the phone and tell them that we’re student journalists and we need their help for a story. Gone are the days where we can read bathroom wall graffiti that calls into question the existence of a parallel universe.

But as I rhyme off the things that I’ll miss, I’m being disingenuous to the fact that there are so many things that I’m looking forward to. And it’s not just me: everyone else in my class is also aware of the truth that we are no longer children or young adults. Our safety net is gone. A new element of danger has been added to the tight rope walk of life.

And it’s exciting. It’s very exciting. It’s so exciting that we all just can’t stop thinking about it, planning for it, or bracing for it. As much as everyone wants to stay together and continue to grow up with one another, we all want to walk across the stage, grab the degree with the left hand, shake with the right, walk to the other side of the stage, down the aisle and out the door. We want to start the transition.

And as much as we’re leaving behind, we’re also taking that much more with us. Besides the obvious things like the friendships, knowledge and debts, we’ll also have the stories. Some of them are funny, some are weird, some are gross, some are unbelievable, some are heartbreaking, and some are scandalous. In fact, some are so scandalous, that I plan on offering the graduation class a pact: that when one of us becomes Premier of Nova Scotia, we won’t go public with these stories.

On that note, my wrist is tired from all this writing, so I offer some inspirational words of wisdom from the great contemporary thinker George Carlin:

“The status quo sucks. Think off-centre.”

Cheers!

Brendan:

Dear Folks,

Here I am, on graduation day. University at King’s College has been a phenomenal and extremely unique experience. The nature of its size and the intimacy of community that it creates has given us a forum in which to invest–invest in the community and invest in one another. Now I’m not entirely convinced that I ever trudged through Hell as Dr. Fraser promised, or whether I’ve come out in Paradise, but perhaps we have arrived at some enlightenment. It’s hard to believe that life inside that tiny Quad could ever prepare me for life outside it in the vast real world. Perhaps it has, perhaps it hasn’t. That, I can’t be sure of yet. But what it has done is introduced me to hundreds of remarkable people–at King’s I was never blind to the rareness of the peers that surrounded me. There are few schools in this country at which such profound and original ideas circulate the dorm rooms, cafeteria and campus bar the way they do at King’s. Where else can you find the brilliant, and yet hysterical and down-right unusual thoughts that come from an individual like Adam Freedman?  Where else can you stroll into a place like The Pit week after week and observe brilliant, hilarious and professional theatre productions entirely conceived of and performed by your peers?  People like Jodey Reeves, Alicia Potter, Jesse Fraser, and Jonah Hundert and so many more busting their hinds to entertain and delight us. Where can you share a pint with an operatic voice like Sherri Farber’s on your right and an old-school barber shop quartet like Brendan Gray’s on your left?  And hardworking and dedicated people who work tirelessly and thanklessly to make this school better and the campus alive, like the campus conductor Danielle Derks?  The talent of our class is astounding and has been inspiring. I have never been to British Columbia, yet have learned a ton from conversations with Alexa Swift on BC politics. I have never been to Newfoundland, yet have heard all about its spectacular landscape from the incredible Terry Myers. Despite the wealth of knowledge that I’ve been exposed to in my courses, I doubt very much if it exceeds what I’ve learned from my fellow Kingsmen and Kingswomen. For this I am most thankful. And today, as we step forth from The Quad, I wish them all well, and hope our paths will cross many times more, as we wind on down the road.

Cheers.