Elizabeth's Valedictorian Speech
Last weekend, as I struggled to write this speech, wondering how I could possibly cram four years into four minutes, I wrote the world’s future for my humanities final. I made Josh Humphries the President (which I think you’ll better understand once you hear him speak), myself secretary of State, a smattering of my friends and acquaintances prominent writers, artists and thinkers of the time. Naturally, I began thinking about what really would happen to all of us by 2040. Even a year from now, will we all want the same futures we want right at this moment? Just a few years ago when graduation seemed like it only happened to lucky people who weren’t us, how many among those now sitting before me knew what they wanted out of life who now want exactly the same thing?
My point being: how is it that we’re supposed to have chosen just two people for the title of “Most Changed”? I can only claim to know less than twenty percent of my fellow classmates (yes…I counted), but I have no doubt that today not a single one of us remains unchanged from freshman year, or from that first day of kindergarten eons ago. We’ve left Power Rangers and Lisa Frank behind us now in exchange for (I must say) some pretty goofy hats.
But this is a good and amazing thing, this change. That we are able to keep ourselves and change ourselves simultaneously—how do we do it? Perhaps it was an inspiring teacher—or, as is more likely the case—many inspiring teachers who pushed us beyond our small little comfort zone so that we could grow. Perhaps it was family which made us realize that being a big kid meant more than just being able to stay up later. Perhaps it was having our friends there to accompany us through this unknown territory. All in all it’s a complex process, one impossible to complete alone. So, thank you teachers, thank you administrators, thank you parents and siblings and grandparents and friends. Thank you for helping us to move forward without leaving ourselves behind.
We have moved forward, and as we continue, I could wish the class of 2008 many things: happiness, success…world peace…and I do wish us these things. But all I really hope is, that come 2040, you can look back on your 12th grade self and see that you have left behind a bit of that person in the goofy blue hat, yet still see parts of the kindergartener with the brightly-colored lunch box, the middle school student who was just too cool, and the senior who pushed through the senioritis. I hope you may realize, in the words of the most eloquent of all writers, Dr. Seuss, that “today was good. Today was fun. [But] Tomorrow is another one.”
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