Dover High School Salutatorian Address 2013

When I began writing this speech, I knew that I didn’t want to include some “cheesy” quote about growing up or how “we are the future.”  Instead, I found a quote about cheese. 

Charles de Gaulle once asked, “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” Similarly, upon graduation, I ask myself, “How can I describe a high school full of such a diverse collection of people?”

Of course, we are different in all the obvious ways. We are male and female. We are black and white. We are athletes and musicians, but these are not the differences that we will be remembered for.

We will be remembered for being the friendly one, like Rendell, who I didn’t have a class with until this year, but said “hi” to me often throughout high school.

We will be remembered for being the smart and sweet and quiet one, like Tamara who I found to be the best person to sit next to in class over the last few years.

We will be remembered for overcoming adversity and for continuing to struggle against it.

And of course, we will not only be remembered, but will remember as well.

We’ll remember our best friend–the one who stuck with us through everything. The one who we’ve fought with and laughed with and cried with. The only one who really understands us. The one who’s become like a sister.

We’ll remember walking into Ms. Beck’s classroom as a frightened freshman and finding a window there to our future endeavors and success. We’ll also remember walking into Mr. Leighty’s classroom a year later and having déjà vu as a sophomore.

We’ll remember walking into school on the last day of senior year and passing freshmen in the hall who we see ourselves in and hoping that they will make better choices than we did.

I will never forget the way Mr. Whitenight has made my heart sink and soar, with music and bad metaphors and stories and love for his family. I will never forget Madame Smith’s enthusiasm as she taught me French for two (unfortunately not four) years. I will not forget the memorable anecdotes that both Mr. Leighty and Ms. Beck taught me with. I will not forget actually enjoying a science class with Mr. Peppard.

Not everyday of high school has been unforgettable. So many days have been pure monotony. However, what makes it memorable is, without a doubt, the people we have met. Friendships have flourished, withered, and bloomed in the past four years. Teachers will remain in our hearts as sparkling bursts of light, silently guiding us through difficult years to come. 

In these coming years, it will be important to remember the things we have learned in high school. The things we’ve learned to satisfy curriculums and standardized test are not what I am talking about. The most critical things we have learned in the past four years come from people, not from textbooks. I think the most important thing that anyone can gain in high school is a sense of humanity. Learning that all people, no matter how different from us, are in fact, still people, is the most valuable thing that anyone can learn. It will ensure us jobs, scholarships, friends, and love someday.

We have learned to accept that every individual in this “Senator” family is different and special and unique. But we are still a family. In this graduating class of 313 people, we may not all know each other personally but we are all connected. We are connected by the invisible web that connects all alumni of our school. We have spent four years together: growing together, laughing, and crying. Those connections are not easily dissolved.

No matter how different the paths we take in the future are, we will always be united by the fact that our class was the one that got gypped out of the new high school and the new auditorium and gym at Central Middle. We will always be united by the excited electricity in the stands as we barely won (or barely lost) the Homecoming game. We will be united by the countless pictures, tweets and statuses that will remain available to us online for perhaps the rest of our lives. (Don’t worry, no matter how embarrassing we think they are when we delete them in 3 years, someone is surely saving all of the worst ones to put in a “throwback Thursday” post 30 years from now.)

The class of 2013 now stands at the stem of a the proverbial, many-pronged fork in the road. In the next few months, we will begin our journeys. Some of us will begin on the same path and diverge later as we attend DelTech, DelState, Wesley or UD in the fall. Some of us may be joining the armed forces, getting a job, or going far away to college. But we are all starting from the same well-worn road. The education that we have received at Dover High School will serve us well, not matter in what direction life pulls us. 

While some of us ran the high school race, others walked. (Admittedly, some crawled.) But all of us are here, at this single line in the sand that symbolizes both an ending and a beginning. We all have a fair shot and an even playing field, a chance to start over and create a new life for ourselves. We can be whatever we want to be. We are going out into a wide, wide world that has no preconceived notions of us. It has heard no rumors, it holds no grudges. We could move to the other side of the country, or the other side of world if we wanted to. As we exit this stadium, we are given the permission to become our person, make our own choices and live life to the fullest.

And, students, I sincerely hope that all of us do. We are a family, yes, with a similar background, but we are individually remarkable. We are friendly. We are sweet. We are thoughtful. We are strong. We are smart. We are kind. Use the strengths you have been given and take a little lesson from every person you meet. Everyone has something that they can share with the world, whether it be a hard lesson life has taught them, or their glowing optimism, or their harrowing realism. So use all of the people you have met, or will meet, as resources. Use them as unofficial teachers and counselors and a web of support. 

Speaking of support, brings me to the parents. While we have developed the net of support that we now have at Dover High, that cannot replace the support system that we are born with. Our families have clothed, fed, and housed us to the best of their ability for 18 years. Without that steady rock to lean on, who knows where any of us would be. To those who are sitting here today missing their family, in part or whole, I cannot express how proud those who are not here would be if they could see you now.

The vital instrument of contemporary American success, the high school diploma, will soon be bestowed upon us, seniors. I cannot put into words how grateful we must be, not only for living in a country that provides us a free education, but for the people that made that education possible. To the teachers, who shared their wealth of knowledge with us: thank you. To the administrators, new and old, who made sure this knowledge was being taught and absorbed effectively: thank you. To our honorable guests, who are here today to support us in our future endeavors: thank you.

We have put in hard work for four long years. Hopefully, we will look back on these years with fond memories of growing and learning together. And if these were not the “best years of your lives”, at least they are now over. Please carry with you all that you have learned and do not forget from whence you came as you embark on your next great adventure, whatever it may be. Best wishes to each individual, and good luck to the entire class of 2013. We did it!

Sick of my high school’s shit…

So before you read my graduation speech, let me tell you about the events surrounding it.

First of all, we have two new co-principals this year. The one who Michael and I (the competitors for salutatorian/valedictorian) dealt with when we were told to begin writing speeches called both of us to tell us our final rank on Monday or Tuesday the week before Graduation. She told me I was Valedictorian. Great, right? Yeah, no.

She calls again on Thursday and tells me that after maintaining my rank for 7 semesters, Michael has passed me by .05%. She felt “horrible” because she called before all of the grades were in. Yeah. Thanks. My mom and I were questioning soe of the weight on my classes and the principal said she would get the district office to check it, but I don’t think she did. At this point I’m just pissed that I took dance instead of AP French. AP French would have been an easy 107, while Dance ended up only being 100 with weight because my teacher had the nerve to give me a 97. She only gave me an 80% for summative participation one day even though I changed and participated every day.

So yeah. I’m pretty mad. But guess what? I’m still going to college for free…so Dover High School, which has never appreciated me, can kiss my ass. I don’t need your fucking validation. The powers that be obviously appreciate my hard work, since they’re basically giving me $100,000. So fuck you, high school.

I’m putting up my speech in the next post…at least I still got to make one.

Closing books and long last looks…

The fact that high school is ending hasn’t really hit me yet and I don’t know if it’ll hit me hard at all. Ray was all excited today when he got done with his last exam…but I haven’t really had that feeling. Of course, I’m glad to be done with high school…but it’s not about being done with the work (I know that I have four more long years of that ahead.), it’s about being done with the stupidity of it all. I’m honestly really unimpressed with the majority of people in my high school. I mean of course there are probably about 10 or so people that I like more than half of the time, but I’m not even great friends with about half of those people and I’ll miss even fewer of them…one of them being my chorus teacher. The most important one being Ray…who hopefully I won’t have to miss too much. I hate to sound like a silly stereotypical teenage girl who thinks her high school romance will last forever…but I do think so. And I know that he and I will be pretty much attached at the hips. I know that the most important relationship I have built so far is coming with me, so what do I really have to miss about high school?

I certainly won’t miss all of the ridiculous rules. The last few times I’ve been at school I’ve just been so disgusted with the entire system. I suppose I probably feel like most kids do for the entirety of high school. Now that I am legally an adult, I’m just so fed up with being told what to do. I’ve always found high school annoying, of course, because I’ve never really had the mentality of a high schooler, but at this point I wish some one would try to write me up for not having a pass. Please. Try.

Speaking of being an adult, I start my job at Michael’s tomorrow. I think I count this as my first job since I got it entirely on my own and not with the help of family connections. I’m under the impression that I’m going to be sitting on a computer tomorrow doing the “Michael’s University” training program. (Fun fact: I have to concentrate really hard not to spell Michael’s incorrectly. For some reason I always want to spell it “Micheal’s”.)

This week I only have 14 hours…but hopefully I can get to four days a week and closer to 20 hours. But I am getting paid eight dollars an hour and not minimum wage, so that’s exciting! Let’s see…between now and college, if I worked 20 hours a week, I could make around 1600 dollars this summer. It seems so minuscule when I consider my scholarship money that I’ve received in the past few months. However, I like to think of my scholarship money as payment for going to school for the past four years. Well deserved.

Speaking of being good at school, I seriously need to work on my Valedictorian Speech. I still have a page and a half that I would like to write, and I have no idea what I want to write about. It’s due Friday. Oops. However, it’s getting late. I’m going to Madame Smith’s retirement party at 9:00 in the school I have recently learned to despise, so I suppose I should hit the hay. Perhaps I’ll finish the story I’m on in Tales of the Jazz Age. I didn’t like Gatsby the first time I tried to read it, so I’m trying to ease myself in with some short F. Scott Fitzgerald. We’ll see how it goes when I borrow The Great Gatsby from Ray. Goodnight!!