NRHS valedictorian gives grads their last laugh

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ALMA – As Northumberland Regional High School graduates sat in the same room for the last time, they all shared something – a laugh.

Valedictorian Connor Hines’s speech was riddled with jokes, and some honesty.

“On behalf of our entire grad class, I would like to thank the makers of Google, Wikipedia and copy and paste. For without those blissful little inventions, many of us, including myself, would not be here today.”

He shared memories of phone calls home, chats with Mrs. Ervin, some creative cheating on a French test, as well as hopes for the future.

“As I look out upon my graduating peers, I see doctors, lawyers, teachers and a minority, but ever-shining abundance, of Walmart greeters.”

Though much of the speech was an attempt to get students to crack a smile, it wasn’t without some reflection.

“It is to the degree that you resist the most pivotal changes in your life that slow you down and make you miss what may hold the greatest promise all because you fear the unknown. I’m going to let you all in on a little secret. In life, all is unknown.”

He asked that his fellow graduates embrace change, and ensured them that they’d make the right choices as long as they remain true to themselves.

“Here’s to all those phone calls home, the tests gone wrong, the double frees that turned into triples, the sick days that were really Netflix and sweet chili heat days, the friends that we had met, and to the dark times where you realized the beautiful fact that you’re your own best friend. Here’s to you grads.”

A complete list of award winners from Northumberland along with the other two high schools in the county will appear in Monday’s edition.

Organizations: Google, Walmart

Geographic location: Northumberland

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Recent comments

  • Heather
    June 30, 2014 - 20:01

    Connor is the kindest person anyone will ever meet. He is an awesome young man and doesn't deserve this bull. Some people have to jump on every word people say and make it out to be vindictive. It was a grad speech for God sake. Get a life.

    June 29, 2014 - 07:25

    I don't care what anyone of youse called "adults" think! The speech was for us, the graduates. You may not have understood the jokes, but WE DID! His speech really made us feel like a family. And when going through such a change in life,it's nice to hear that even though we may not see each other it's not the end to our big family. And that's what his speech did.

  • no excuses
    June 29, 2014 - 02:49

    I feel ashamed to have graduated from this particular education system. Does anyone of the higher levels review these speeches beforehand, or do they not have the intelligence to comprehend the true ignorance behind this speech? As for the valedictorian, which typically demonstrates the highest academic achievement, has portrayed the graduating class in a poor manner. By this speech, he allowed to make his own and family's opinion clear that minorities are not welcome in "professional" occupations; also, that minorities and wal-mart greeters are subject to comedic ignorance. People who defend this pathetic speech should reconsider their thoughts, even with consideration of free speech. Therefore, despite being a "17 year old", this child should from now on use a common gift; the ability to think rationally acquired thoughts. There is simply, no excuse.

    • JP
      June 29, 2014 - 08:56

      mi·nor·i·ty /məˈnôrətē/ - the smaller number or part, especially a number that is less than half the whole number. Meaning that a few people will work at Walmart as greeters in the future. That is reality, heck these kids will have a very hard time finding any work with this economy at lest let them have a laugh.

    • Gradute
      June 29, 2014 - 09:43

      Your ability to use big words in an attempt to make your opinion sound more educated did just the opposite. To critize a student who made all of his students laugh and enjoy themselves in all their nerves is rather pointless. The speech was saying a minority as in smaller group of people would work as Walmart greeters: which they will. The valediction has to have grades above a certain level academic achievement to be considered, which he does. I think you as educated as you trying to make yourself sound are not so bright to see the speech was not to demonstrate students in a "poor manner" but, as anyone with any sense of human nature would realize, to make people laugh. All Connor stated was there will be layers, doctors, teachers and a minority for us (the smaller amount of the whole) will be walmart greeters. If people took this as funny maybe you should critize them because Connor was not laughing at his own words. By saying "people who defend this pathetic speech should reconsider their thoughts" shows the true ignorance in your personality. To think everyone should follow your own beliefs and only your own opinion is correct what is truly pathetic. I think you yourself need to learn the ability to use "rationally acquired" thoughts seeing as you are unable to take a joke, respect someone with a different opinion then your own and praise the valedictorian for his hilarious speech and ability to move a crowd. Instead you are simply praising yourself for your ability to anonymously bash a wonderful prosorious young student over the internet maybe you. The realisation of yourself and few other rude people should be that making these critizms about Connor in an attempt to bring him, the school and the students down are doing the harm and respect, not the valedictorians speech that made everyone in the grad class laugh.

    • Steve
      June 29, 2014 - 19:42

      "I feel ashamed".....first words I read and I could not agree more.....You should feel ashamed of what you wrote about someone and his family without knowing anything about them. I walked around after my son's speech proudly as all his friends congratulated him, thanked him and supported him. I heard "that was awesome", I heard "I will never forget that speech, man" but not once did I hear "that was in poor taste." Well, until I read this and saw that some adults want to bash on a young man that had everybody in stitches (aside for you). The grads got it and it was written for them, it was not written for you. Take one moment to get to know the person that the graduating class nominated to speak for them. I assure you that you will change your mind. And please do not presume to know anything about him or his really should feel ashamed. Shame on you

  • cafeteria lady
    June 28, 2014 - 22:50

    Way to go Connor.An honest speech from a honest young man.It was a pleasure watching you grow the past four years and a pleasure to serve you.You are and will continue to be a valued member of our society.I know we will hear great things about you in years to come.

  • Grad
    June 28, 2014 - 21:40

    Connors speech made me laugh. The criticism on this page also made me laugh. Two thumbs up for two laughs.

  • Mark Buell
    June 28, 2014 - 16:55

    I must say, all this negativity towards what he said is distasteful. Did you write the speech? No. Did you graduate? No. Was the speech directed to you? No. Should you be commenting on the speech? Yes, you have every right. However, you must know that a lot of us reflected and related to this speech as grads. Also why complain about this speech when they opened the ceremony with a prayer? The speech may have offended you but the prayer was illegal. It is unconstitutional to read any word of prayer in a public place of education. Back to the speech. It was well done, and I loved it. It was directed to all of us and made sense to all of us because he used references that made us feel like a family and the memories belonged to all of us. He relieved some of the fears and lightened the mood. Well done on his part. We voted for him, and it is our graduation therefor it is about US as the graduating class, not you and your personality. If I may say, the lady whom spoke before him and gave a speech was very, need I say...terrible? Her speech had no direction, no purpose, and no theme. Please, get over it.

  • GRAD
    June 28, 2014 - 14:12

    Majority of you are sitting here singling out Connor for being ''disrespectful'', how respectful of you! As adults you should all be able to take a joke. It was a celebration of the grads and their success in highschool, not anyone else's current life status. He was not disrespecting anyone's career, he was simply stating what potentially could be the truth. It was humorous and anyone confident in themselves and their life choices would've understood that. My suggestion for everyone is to back away from the computer and find some confidence, only a Walmart greeter who is ashamed of his/her job would be acting this way. Grow up and stop bashing a minor over the internet

  • Graduate
    June 28, 2014 - 14:02

    The speech had to be approved by administration before it was read. Regardless, Connor did an amazing job and we all loved having him give our valedictory speech. He was in no way disrespectful to anyone. He was simply stating that some people won't be as sucessful as others. If you don't like the way he worded that, then that's your loss. He was hilarious.

  • Parent
    June 28, 2014 - 13:07

    I am no stranger to graduations and have attended them at both the high school and university level. However, none of these graduations prepared me for what I was going to witness at my child’s Northumberland graduation last night. Before the ceremony commenced, I was filled with anticipation and pride. I acknowledged the tireless dedication and sacrifice my child and many of my child’s peers had made throughout their high school career. This night was to recognize and honor their accomplishments, dedication to excellence and commitment to honesty and respect. By consequence, it was also a night to honor the school’s administration and workers as the graduates are a reflection of their commitment to education and creating a productive and safe learning environment. As the valedictorian walked to the stage I was interested to hear how he would represent his graduating class, the inspirational words he would pass down to his peers and the excitement he would instill. By the end of the speech, I was in complete shock and saddened for everyone the valedictorian represented. I understand and appreciate the effort to make jokes and include humor in his speech, but he crossed a line. I found the valedictorian attempting to appease a small minority of his friends at the cost of the other graduates. He was disrespectful to the students, the staff and openly shamed the integrity of Northumberland Regional High School casting it into a shadow of cheating, lying and plagiarism. He disrespected teacher’s attempts at providing an honest education for all students. If anything the valedictorian made it seem like the students survived their four years through these unspeakable acts and disregarded the achievements of the rest of the student body. The graduating class and employees of Northumberland deserved to be honored, and at bare minimum respected last night during their graduation ceremony. Although I am disappointed with the valedictorian’s distasteful speech, I wish all of the graduates of Northumberland 2014 a successful and prosperous future.

    • Student
      June 28, 2014 - 14:15

      The purpose of a valedictorian is not to please everyone. Perhaps if you took the time to read the headline "NRHS valedictorian gives grads their last laugh" you would realize the article was meant in a positive matter. To critize someone for the ability to make the majority of their grad class smile and laugh is simply petty and uncalled for. The valedictorian was also selected by the students to represent themselves so to say only a minority was represented was very obviously incorrect. As an attendant of the graduation you would've seen the tedious and frankly dry long portion of the evening, the comic break is what gave students a chance to let go of their nerves and simply laugh together. The speech was made to make people laugh not made to show NRHS as a dishonest school but one that can let students laugh and enjoy their night of graduation. I find it rather pathetic to comment such judgments about a student who was simply trying to get a laugh out of the audience but also added a seriousness and encouragement at the end. You are not a student the speech was not meant to represent you. Lighten up!

  • Another grad parent
    June 28, 2014 - 12:21

    As a parent who attended last nights graduation ceremony, this speech was awesome! There is nothing wrong with the kids aspiring to be more than a walmart greeter and no one who was sitting around me took offense to it. Keep your head high Connor and don't worry about others opinions. You did a fantastic job last night as did all the grads of NRHS. This parent is proud of you!!

  • humorless
    June 28, 2014 - 08:57

    Our education system should have spent more time teaching students human values and understanding, it is not ok to stereotype individuals. a 17 year old should no better, especially a valedictorian. I am sure this speech was prepared in advance one of the coordinating minds should have reviewed it prior to presentation. Welcome the class to the world where the real education begins.

    • McGee
      June 28, 2014 - 10:07

      Sir or Madam, learn how to spell and use proper punctuation. Then you can error correct a Valedictorian speech from a 17 year old. Sincerely, someone who actually knows the guy. P.S. Take a joke, and let off on the criticism. It's okay to have fun.

    • Dont worry about it
      July 02, 2014 - 22:06


  • Shelby
    June 28, 2014 - 08:40

    You "adults" need to grow up, nothing in his speech was insulting. He's a child, and it was a joke. I'm sure you make offensive jokes all the time, and as someone who does, this is NOT offensive in the least!! It's true, and at least he didn't say half of them would be on welfare with an unwanted baby in three years, because that rings true for my grad class and WOULD have been offensive. Grow up and get over yourselves, you Pictou County people have NOTHING better to do than gossip and bully a child for an amazing speech and doing a feat that some can barely accomplish, surviving this horrible place and graduating happily! There was no grouping for "a minority" if you were actually there you would have realized this. He was using the old, oh everyone will be awesome, but putting some reality in it, and some damn funny reality! There was no putting down and absolutely NOTHING wrong or humorless with his speech, he did a fantastic job and everyone enjoyed it who didn't have their heads up their asses waiting to be offended.

  • Redrower
    June 28, 2014 - 08:32


  • NovaScotianer
    June 28, 2014 - 02:50

    What's wrong with being a Walmart Greeter? Not everyone gets a silver spoon in hand to go to university, and some people like the job. Your joke was bitter tasting.

  • CJ
    June 27, 2014 - 23:07

    Come on folks cut the kid some slack!! He was likely nervous and thinking as a 17 year old, not a 40 year old? He was attempting to insert some humour and comedy into a stressful speech to a room of his peers - NOT making a political statement!! Young Mr. Hines welcome to adulthood, where there are always going to be someone criticizing WHATEVER you do. Pay them no attention. Good luck in your future studies. Go on and study, work hard, be honest, prosper and most importantly be happy!!

  • Humorless
    June 27, 2014 - 20:56

    I fail to see the humor in this, why was there a need to have a separate grouping for "a minority"

    • GRAD
      June 28, 2014 - 08:32

      Maybe if all of you, what, "adults" would stop hating on a valedictorian speech from a 17 year old then maybe I would take your criticsm seriously. Connor did a wonderful job in making the grad class laugh with jokes clearly we only understand because well, we are the grad class he was writing about. His minority joke was a harmless joke, as was the walmart greeter. My mom works at Walmart and thought it was hilarious. So before you hate over a news site about a 17 year old, maybe think about how rude and stupid you look. Bye.

  • dumbfounded
    June 27, 2014 - 20:56

    hey, a laugh is a laugh, but you need to learn early you should never put down any group of people such as walmart greeter- your attempt at humor left some feeling insulted, and you showed your young lack of understanding of respecting all people, and that everyone has a place, and we need every job out there to make the world go round- thanks for your lack of thinking about what you say before it is out

    • Grad Parent
      June 28, 2014 - 08:44

      Best valedictory speech EVER! You are a very funny kid,Connor. We enjoyed it immensely! Good luck in this next stage of your life. You will do well with this kind of outlook.