"Adapt. Improvise. Overcome." - Gunny Highway.
Okay, that was a joke. (To anyone who was a part of Coach Eagleburger's eighth grade social studies class, you would understand why that is the best quote I could come up with.) And now that I've begun this speech in the most cliché manner possible, I will begin telling some clever anecdotes that eventually tie into a moral that you will remember for about five minutes after you leave.
If you ask any of my fellow classmates, they will tell you that embarrassment follows me around wherever I turn. It stalks me and always strikes when I least expect it. By the time I had moved here in eighth grade, I was well aware of this tragic flaw. I tried to hide it for several months, avoiding situations where I could laugh too hard and have mysterious fluids come out of my nose, checking for toilet paper on my shoes when I left the restroom, et cetera. But one day I let my guard down. In drama class, all of my peers were honored with the opportunity to view my half-digested lunch all over the floor, barely missing Mr. Mann's shoes. From there on, it was a downward spiral. I am sure that over half of the student body has seen me eat pavement, wood flooring or tile, at least once. Little did I know that my most amazing feat was yet to come. Driving home in the wee hours of the morning, I did not expect a rabid cow to fall from the sky and land right in the middle of the road. Sadly, my car decided that it was time for this poor Angus to make its way to cow heaven. If you've ever wondered if it was true that certain things happen to animals when they die, I will verify this for you. I was covered from head to toe in [insert word of choice here]. Luckily for me, the officer on the scene, John Lueckenhoff, informed his children, who extended to me their most sincere condolences by informing all of Cassville High School of my misfortune.
So, where am I going with this? From my many horrendous experiences, I have learned that more often than not, you will face challenges. Statistically speaking, 99.9 percent of us will, actually. (That other 0.1 percent is reserved for Mr. Jamieson, of course.) We also may, or in my case, always, fail epically. Fellow perfectionists believe that this kind of vulnerability is unacceptable, which is exactly what I used to think as well. When things did not go as planned, I saw it as a sign of weakness. But who could ever enjoy someone so uptight all the time? You just can't enjoy life if you are constantly worried about making a fool out of yourself. My mom, the strongest, most successful person I know, makes this clear to me daily as she motivates me with quotes from the brilliant works of Jonathon C. Reilly and William Ferrell. I am also reminded that she shows off her vocal talents and dancing skills to my poor friends. She knows that often times bad things happen, but she always keeps in mind that laughter is what keeps you going. Proverbs 17:22 states that "a happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength." God will always give you obstacles, but it will be your choice to decide if you will embrace them or let them destroy you.
So in conclusion, I would like to congratulate the Class of 2011. It's been a long journey, but we've made it at last and there's still so much more to accomplish. Please remember to enjoy the summer before you get into the real world, and make sure you swim in every lake, pool and hot tub that you can. And never take yourself too seriously.
Hi. First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone for coming to this monumental event in our lives. Graduating high school is an enormous achievement and would not be possible without the love and support of friends and family. I have been immensely blessed to have been born into, and acquire, such an unbelievably loving family, and behind each and every graduate before you, lies an inspirer, role model, and positive parental figure. This ceremony is not only a celebration of us making it through four of the longest years of our lives, but also an example of what countless amounts of love can achieve. Today symbolizes the close of a 13-year stretch of hard work, dedication, and perseverance that has allowed us to sit before you today, sweating profusely, in these less than comfortable robes and ever so stylish hats. I have been a spectator for many graduation ceremonies in the past, not fully grasping their significance, but still counting down the days until my day would come. today is that day and I am overwhelmingly honored to be standing before you as this class's salutatorian.
Looking back on the past 13 years spent with my fellow classmates, I have quite the interesting array of memories. Like in the fifth grade when football was taken away from us at recess because Andrew Cole launched the ball at Chris Smith's face in order to avoid getting sacked. Or that same year, when Tyler Skinner sang that his name was Napoleon Bonaparte while on his knees dressed as the French Dictator in that year's play. I'll never forget the good times with Chris Smith, Trey Rose, John and Jodi Cavness and Cade Gosch playing kickball out in the field behind the middle school gym after school. Nor will I be able to forget the multiple inappropriate remarks made by Ross Miekley, Korey Banks and Andrew Cole on a weekly basis in Mrs. Vollenweider's GEARS class (though I wish I could). We made the most out of our 13 years here in Cassville, Missouri, not taking one moment for granted; however, we now come to realize that our time is up, and we must begin a new chapter in our lives.
Bob Dylan once said: "the times, they are a changing." Though Mr. Dylan may not be the greatest role model in the world, his words hold true for this moment. After today, we will no longer be high school students. We will be graduates of Cassville High School, Class of 2011alumni. Scary huh? The fact that we will never enter these halls again as students, or play another sport dressed in the black and gold uniforms we've worked so hard for in these past four years. Never again will our Mondays consist of Mrs. Green's corny blonde jokes, nor will 50 minutes of our day be spent in pure fear as we anxiously await the words, "You may go" that follow the bell dismissing us out of Mrs. Richards' classroom. Things are going to change drastically for us after today. As of now, being on our own seems to be the one thing we cannot wait to do; however, just a few months after our wish is granted (if that long), we will be missing the one thing we never thought we would; home.
And yes, today marks the end of those entertaining moments here at CHS, but this ceremony symbolizes something much greater than the end of blonde jokes and high school football games. Yes, high school is a wonderful time where life can be lived without a care in the world, but life continues after today. Very seldom is someone remembered later in life for their accomplishments in the high school realm. The memories of trophies, awards, district, and even state championships will fade with time. Things such as character, hard work and respect will not. Today marks the beginning of the rest of our lives, and it is traits such as those just mentioned that will establish who we become after this day. Life does not end with graduation, but rather begins. The real world does not care what kind of person you were in high school. The real world does not care if you were captain of the football team, president of FBLA, valedictorian or salutatorian. If you do not continue the hard work and dedication you have exemplified over these past four years, you will receive no more success than you already have. In the same sense, those of you who did not reach your full potential in high school, who did not flourish in the classroom, court or field, "the times, they are a changing." Take this as your opportunity. Start over; commit yourself to achieving great success in the years to come. The slate is wiped clean! Today symbolizes a new beginning that we may take and do with whatever we wish. We are no longer bound by stereotypes; no longer confined to a wooden desk. Our abilities have no limits, and after today, we have no reason to hide that fact. Any fear or insecurity within, keeping you from becoming the person God intended you to be, has no reason to exist after today. As if you had reason to before, after today, you should not care what other people think if what they think interferes with you reaching your dreams.
So, I say to you Class of 2011; GO. Go out into the real world and do not settle for mediocre. Do not be satisfied with average. Be all you can be...and then some. Why should someone made in God's perfect image settle for anything less than perfect? Fight, work, scrap, claw; do whatever you have to do to achieve your dreams. It's not too late. This is our time! This is the time to step up and show the world what we are made of. GO. Show them, and let nothing hold you back.
There will be obstacles, make no doubt about that. On your way to success you will encounter both people and circumstances that attempt to keep you from your goals. They should not slow you down. In fact, encourage them. For you are strong enough to overcome any hindrance, and the experiences will only make you stronger.
As you sit there in your chairs, do not think to yourself CAN I achieve my dreams, but rather WHEN. GO. Go fast, go strong, and go hard; be more focused now than you have ever been, for this is our time. Our life begins NOW! I'm not saying that our time spent in these halls was a waste (though some of us may have thought that these past couple of weeks). It is okay to miss the good memories and the friendships acquired thus far, but when you think back, do not be sad. Be thankful for the times that you did have, and for how they molded you into the person you are today. The friendships and memories we leave behind here at Cassville High School have taught us many lessons we will be able to apply to future situations. So, instead of being sad, be excited. Look forward to what awaits you in the future, and do your best to make the most out of every opportunity life throws your way. I'm not sure if any of you have tried it, but it's not very easy to walk forward while looking behind you. You trip, run into things, and never seem to end up at your desired destination. Same applies to life. Keep your eyes on your dreams as you attempt to reach them and never let them out of your sight. We talk about them as if our dreams are nothing but a fictional scenario; something unattainable. But I tell you today, nothing is ever unattainable. Philippians 4:13 states: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Nothing is impossible.
Just an example, I entered high school with the goal to speak at our graduation, and now I stand up on this stage in front of the class that I have admired my entire life. The patience of Tyler Skinner, the self-discipline of Trevor Shumaker, the unshakable happiness of Emily Pry, the caring heart of Risa Darveau. Trenton Tanner's determination, Brock Jacob's sense of humor and Chris Smith's humility are all qualities I pray that my future children will somehow acquire. Class of 2011, you don't realize how much you have influenced my life. Thank you for all the laughs, fights and memories. And as I am sad that our time here has come to a close, I am excited for our futures. Excited to see each and every one of you grow into the person God intends you to be. I wish you the best in the years to come, and overall, remember...stay classy Cassville High School.