I wasn't prepared to say a speech on my 16th birthday. But I am now so can I just have a moment of time to say some words which I'm sure don't need saying.

As we pass into next year 2004 we will make new friends and loves.

We will gain and lose many things which are vital or trivial to us; we may lose family through death, friends may leave or we may experience the more than intricate teenage breakups. But we shall also gain friends, wisdom and courage to face the year after.

I believe we have all learned a lot, even if we don't realize it. We have all learnt that certain people are not to be trusted and have felt the sting from doing so.

We have learnt certain habits of friends, and what they like or dislike.

We have learnt that to make it in life, we cannot just sit down and watch it go past.

We have learnt that common school fights can come with dire consequences.

We have learnt were to draw the line, and where to cross it.

We have learnt to say 'no' or 'yes' depending on the question and what the cost could be.

We have learnt that lying hurts but can be a quick and easy escape route although rarely worth it.

We have learnt that war is not a laughing matter, and that many are getting killed day by day.

We have learnt that what we don't expect may be our fate. We have learnt that relationships are hard, but worth it.

We have learnt that no matter what, friends will stick by you always, if they are true.

Speaking from the heart and soul you have all become my brothers and sisters, and even though the same blood may not flow through our veins the same memories do, good and bad, smiles and tears. And what I am reading now will become yet another memory to be embedded in your minds.

I am hoping that one day we will all look back on moments like these were someone reads from a piece of paper what most of us think and really feel, and hopefully smile or laugh because it's one of the few happy memories of our teenage years.

Dana, I've never said what you really meant to me; sometimes all I want is to see your face to know that courage is still existent. You are the arms I trust to catch me when I fall.

Sherrie, you seem to be the one person I know who can smile through tears and laugh which can bring hope even to the darkest corners of the earth, you can see things others cannot. You are the eyes I trust to see for me when all else has gone black.

Emily, you've always been the one to stand up for everyone without backing down, you can hold the world on your shoulders and not break. You are the strength I trust to give me hope when life seems too hard to go on.

Joel, your morals are very strong and you teach us to let go of the big and small things which grip our minds. You are the wisdom I trust to lead me in the right direction.

Kyle, we have been through a lot together, I think we can both admit it was influenced by mostly bad, but that all lead up to the good. And throughout all that happened we still prevailed.

And although you guys are all here for me now, I know one day we will most properly all go in opposite directions; and when that happens we will all realize family is here forever.

We never know how much a friend means to us until we've said our final goodbyes. That won't happen for another year, but every day brings us closer to the inevitable.

And although many of you are looking forward to leaving forever, to have freedom; we must realize freedom also comes with strings attached, such as responsibility, maturity, and the common sense to know what's right and wrong.

And I know most of you are thinking you will never make it. But you will, because if you had no chance, you would not be before me, you would not be listening to me right now, you are all here for a reason you just have to find it.

I myself believe it is out generation which will make a difference in this world, so instead of fearing the worst, expect the best and prepare to be relieved and disappointed, prepare for laughter and tears, for death and new life.

Don't forget the past but learn from it, and remember the present. Prepare for the future. And remember no matter how many friends leave, they were once there for you, which makes them there for life.

Thank you to you all for being here when you didn't have to be, I true fully don't know what I'd do without any one of you. Thank you.

By Siobhan Austen Date: 10.11.2003

Never be scared of the future, know your past, enjoy your present, and love what you have yet to receive. -Siobhan