Thursday, May 21, 2009

Valedictorian Speech

Many Roads, Many Choices
We are the one hundred and first class to graduate from Lenoir City High School. That means that one hundred others valedictorians’ have struggled as I have to come up with a speech and say something new, fresh, and interesting. Over the past few months, the class of 2009 has been overwhelmed with decisions to make. How many graduation announcements to buy? Where to go to college? Can I get a job somewhere? What to wear to prom? Should I wear clothes under my graduation gown?

As a class, we are leaving behind the safety as security we have always known. Many of us has lived and gone to school with each other since kindergarten while others joined us throughout our school years. For the last twelve years, our routine from August to May has always been the same. Wake up, go to School, Extra-Curricular Activities, Homework. This phase of our lives is now over.

Many us are leaving our friends behind. Although our friendships may be physically separated due to college or job choices, hopefully, we’ll be able to maintain our friendships. And even if our friendships drift apart, we will always have the memories we had made in high school – the sports we played, the games we watched, the tricks we pulled, and the trouble we should have gotten caught for…..

Robert Frost’s most famous poem starts with “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both”. The poem is about making choices, and some choices are easy and some are hard. Each of us must evaluate the paths available and select our own path, even if it means taking the road less traveled. Or, for some of us, where no path exists, we will forge ahead, and make our own road.

Up until this point, we’ve had many to help guide us in making the right choices, our parents and families, teachers, coaches, religions leaders, and more. But, we can no longer expect our parents to be there to guide us at every turn. We are now fully responsible for our actions. Our decisions are our own.

We start this next phase of our lives with a clean slate. The decisions after this moment will play a direct role in defining who we are and the world around us. What we must remember is that we can define our future through decisions we make over the next few years. Very often our paths will diverge; we will be faced with two paths. Sometimes our decisions will lead us in ways we never imagined. We must move on and live our lives. Despite how we try to control our world, we can never predict the exact results of our actions. In the end, all that really matter is that we work hard and trust ourselves. In the immortal worlds of Winston Churchill “Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.”

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