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Senior class has meaningful honor for senior monitor battling cancer

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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand – When graduation is approaching, many high school students tend to look ahead to the future.

One 18-year-old student in New Zealand says he is not looking toward the future, but is simply focusing on how great the past has been.

Jake Bailey, the senior monitor at Christchurch Boys High School, was scheduled to give a speech at the school’s prize giving ceremony.

Just a few weeks before that ceremony, Bailey was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, an aggressive form cancer.

Doctors didn’t believe Bailey would be able to make it to the ceremony.

However, he was able to defy the odds and give a rousing speech in front of his classmates, family and teachers.

“Luckily, that speech isn’t about what’s to come, it’s about what an amazing year it’s been,” Bailey said.

Throughout his speech, he thanks his friends, teachers and parents for all the help they have provided through the years.

“None of us get out of life alive, so be gallant, be great, be gracious and be grateful for the opportunities that you have. The opportunities learned from the men who have walked before you and those who walk beside you,” he said. “Boys High, I’ve been absent for three weeks. Could you please stop sending my mother texts every morning asking if she knows where I am?”

“My challenge to each of you and to myself is to continue to grow and to develop for the better. The future is truly in our hands. Forget about long-term dreams. Let’s be passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short-term goals. Micro-ambitious, work with passion and pride on what is in front of us. We don’t know where we might end up or when it might end up. Some of us will not cross paths again, some of us will likely be seen on T.V., others in print. Some of us in prison, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed growing up with each and every one of you,” Bailey says, even though his voice is cracking.

His classmates begin to giggle as they are seen wiping away tears.

“You know it’s true,” he chuckles. “And it’s been an honor and a delight to share these years of my life with you.”

“I don’t know where it goes from here, for any of us. For me, for you, but I wish you the very best in your journey. And I thank you all for being part of mine. Wherever we go and whatever we do, may we always be friends when we meet again,” Bailey finished.

As Bailey attempts to hold it together, his classmates stand up and perform the haka, a traditional dance that is used to show great honor and respect.