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It seems like just yesterday

It seems like just yesterday It seems like just yesterday

Good evening and welcome president Fleegel, superintendent Sullivan, Principal Lybert, vice principal Schroeder, school board members, faculty, honored guests, family, and friends. Thank you for taking the time to help us commemorate this milestone in our lives. Trying to sit down and write this speech was difficult and it became more difficult for me as time went on. After receiving the news that I would never sit next to the people I have known for 14 years in a classroom, never rush through the halls to avoid being tardy, and never get to count down the days until graduation and really truly experience senioritis, I broke down in tears. Back in April I was given a folder of past graduation speeches for inspiration and examples to base mine off of. I spent the first day reading them, taking it all in. However, they didn’t help me as much as I expected. The individuals that wrote those speeches experienced a “normal” senior year and weren’t spending the best part of their educational journey at home behind a computer screen. The past five months have been consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic and all the damage it has done. Truthfully, I didn’t want to talk about the virus in my speech too much, but it will always be a part of our lives. Back in January and February there were jokes made about seniors walking across the “virtual stage” to receive their diplomas and also jokes about online graduations. It was all fun and games until it was becoming a reality. It’s crazy how something like this can throw everyday life right off the tracks.

As we are sitting in these chairs about to receive our diplomas, think of how far we have come. In the back of my mind I can see the carefree five year old, I was putting on her backpack and walking down the driveway to get on the school bus. Ah, what a joy it was to have the privilege to go to school! Back when the biggest worries were what we were wearing to school, what games we would play at recess, and what we were having for lunch, life was good. As squirrelly, energetic elementary kids, we couldn’t wait to grow up. Middle school brought the awkward years of braces, glasses, and puberty. So many things were changing: our bodies, our friends, and our habits. Our teachers began to do their best to prepare us for high school and gave us encouragement as they sent us onto the last four years of our educational journey. Little did we know that it would only end up being three and one-half years. The best part about high school is that everyone’s experience is different. Whether or not you enjoy it depends on your decisions, friends, priorities, and involvement. Regardless, the past few years have been a learning experience for each and every one of us. Whether you learned about yourself, your friends, the fundamental theorem of calculus, or got a taste of what is to come, I’m sure you aren’t short of some kind of knowledge.

It’s crazy to think that these past 14 years have been preparing us for this moment, the start of our “real lives.” But in reality, for most of us it started two months ago. As a lot of us are going on to college to continue our education, some of us have already begun working, paying our own bills, and living away from home. During our time spent in high school, we were under the impression that “real life” starts the day we graduate. We were pressured with making important decisions, setting goals, and making plans for our future. The truth is, there is so much life to live after high school and making permanent decisions at this point in our lives is just unrealistic. There are so many options when it comes to paths in life, and most of us will end up changing our minds anyway. At this age, it’s okay not to have your plans set in stone, as we have little life experience. Looking back on my years spent in school, I have prepared a few pieces of advice that I thought would be helpful for the future.

Go with the flow. Not everything will go your way and you will have to deal with it. The current pandemic is the best example of this. No one wanted this to happen, but coping with it is necessary. On the same note, stand up for what you believe in, and take action on it if you want to see change. No progress will happen if you just sit around and complain about it.

Expect more from yourself. You are living this life for you, not the people around you. If you want to be successful, you must start believing in yourself, setting goals, and working hard. You are the most important person when it comes to encouragement. If you don’t believe in yourself, how will you achieve anything?

Prioritize demonstrating respect. It is important to respect others, yourself, and the world around you. I’m positive that our elementary: school teachers preached the golden rule; “Treat others how you want to be treated.” This is actually quite simple to comprehend, even kindergarteners can do it. So as an adult, there should be no problem living by it. Use your manners, show up on time, and keep up with your hygiene.

Appreciate what you have. Live your life, explore the world, value your youth. Take risks, but be aware of the outcomes and consequences. It’s quite crazy how fast life goes by and how quickly it can change. Take advantage of your time with loved ones, family, and friends. Be true to yourself, experience the world, and love hard.

Now I could stand here and read off a list of life advice all night, but I think that you would truly learn more about life by experiencing it yourself. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to be sitting here tonight, about to close this chapter of our lives.

This may have felt like one of the longest journeys, but it’s just the beginning. To be honest, this is most likely the last time the Class of 2020 will all be in one place, and even now, we are missing some of our classmates. We will all go our separate ways, down different paths, with a range of goals and dreams for our futures. However, hopefully they all entail the same thing: happiness. There are many different ways to achieve happiness, and it varies from person to person. That’s what I love about it. In this world, there are so many beautiful reasons to find happiness. Don’t forget to stop and appreciate this amazing life we are living because you never know when it could change. To the Class of 2020, go out and achieve great things, I believe in you, congratulations.