A word from CHS graduates

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Instead of reading my words this week, I am continuing a tradition I started last year of running the Cassville High School valedictorian and salutatorian addresses on my editorial page. I hope you enjoy these wise words from two of our area graduates. We offer our congratulations to all Barry County High School graduates.

Cassville High School Valedictory Speech by Holley Skinner

It is such a great honor for me to be the valedictorian of the Class of 2007. I have the distinct honor of delivering the leave-taking speech as we say farewell to these distinguished halls of learning for hopefully even higher pursuits.

I know I speak for all of us graduates when I say that we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to so many. The late Alex Haley, author of "Roots," once spoke of "turtles on fence posts." He said "Any time you see a turtle sitting on a fence post your know he had some help getting there." Turtles are not very proficient at climbing fences, let along fence posts.

The point of this bit of "folk wisdom" reminds us that we do not do it alone; we rely mightily upon the encouragement, assistance and persistence of others for whatever we do that is worthwhile. The point is well taken, and we give a big vote of thanks to our parents, families, teachers, fellow students, friends and members of our churches and community who have believed in us and been a source of encouragement.

Cassville High School is a special place. Within the span of our four years here, we have been involved in Wildcat sports, vocal and instrumental music, speech and drama, art, agriculture, business and various clubs and organizations. Many of us have excelled in our pursuits in district, state and even national levels. Our teams have had undefeated seasons, won district championships and even travelled to the final four at the state level.

Most importantly, we have pursued academic excellence. We have worked hard, but this has not been a competition. This has been a shared journey, which we can feel very proud to have completed.

Our experiences together at Cassville High School have been diverse. We have overcome the awkwardness and fear of trying something new, and enjoyed the rewards of success. We have faced the tragic loss of Whitney (Cline) and Daniel (Neeley) and shared that loss with their families. We have grown closer through our struggles and mutual experiences.

Despite the workload and the various activities, we always managed to take time out for each other. We laughed, had fun and supported one another. We enjoy a store of great memories. The moment may be temporary, but the memory is forever. Ulysses, upon returning from one of his many voyages, said "I'm a part of all that I have met." The relationships we have developed at Cassville High School will forever be a part of us.

This commencement ceremony today is a "rite of passage" into a world where we face new possibilities and responsibilities. Dedication, commitment, honesty and perseverance are needed ingredients to find our way in the world. The success with which we confront the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead will reflect upon the skills we have acquired together.

Today, I would like to challenge you.

First, never give up your quest for learning. Knowledge is power. This insatiable appetite for learning will not only ensure our success in a chosen vocation but will also open up for us new worlds and bring to our lives greater understanding and enjoyment.

It was once said, "The greater the radius of light, the greater the circumference of darkness." The more we learn, the more there is to learn. Continue to learn.

Second, set for yourselves goals of excellence. Excel. Emerson said, "Hitch your wagon to a star." America is a land of opportunity. Our only limitations are those we place upon ourselves. Set goals of excellence.

Third, serve. Throughout our lives, we have an obligation to serve our fellowman and make this world a better place. This worthy goal begins with me. "If I am too big for a little place, then I am too little for a big place." Serve others.

And finally, never stop dreaming. Thoreau once wrote, "Many men gather enough materials to build a castle; they settle down in midlife and build a shack" In other words, they had dreams but settled for less.

"Dreams and education are a powerful combination." Dreams do not come equipped with the magic wands of Cinderella stories. They require diligent effort on our part to make them come true as illustrated in this poem by Edwin Markham:

"Ah, great it is to dream as we stand in youth by the starry stream; But a greater thing is to fight life through, and say at the end, the dream is true."

I close with the words of Bernard Shaw, "Some men see things as they are and ask Why? I dream things that never were and say, Why not?"

To the graduating Class of 2007, I offer my congratulations. In the immortal words of Elle Woods from the movie "Legally Blonde," this brunette says "We did it!"

Cassville High School Salutatory Address by Brandon Banks

Well, this is it; the day we all have been waiting for has finally arrived. Over the past four years, we have grown from insecure, immature freshmen to successful, focused and confident young adults. This incredible transformation has been the result of our entire high school experience.

We have experienced everything from our first homecoming game, to late night cramming, to the last dance at prom, to the loss of two great friends and classmates. These experiences have pulled us together as a class, and we have learned to love and respect each other.

I'd like to begin by thanking my parents, my grandparent, my family and my sister for always being there for me. I would like to thank all of the other parents, as well, for all of the hard work they have done and all the support they have given us. You were there for us in times of need and you were there in our times of celebration. Also, we need to give a big thank you to the teachers and staff of Cassville Schools. Without you, we would not have become the fine young men and women you see today.

There are a number of things we are all thinking, but I am sure there is one common thing; we are finished. Never again will we have a late night of typing hysterically to finish a Richards' essay, a midnight cramming session for a Brown test or a scramble to finish all our homework during the morning announcements.

High school may be over, but we are not even close to being finished. We have just barely begun the trip on the roller coaster of life and already it seems like we've had quite a ride. some of us will go on to college, some will enter into the work force and some of us are still undecided. We will encounter obstacles at every turn, but we must persevere if we hope to succeed in this world.

The key to our success will be to know what everyone expects from us and then we must commit ourselves to exceeding these expectations. That is what will set us ahead of the rest.

As we sit here today, we are proof of the hope for the future. We are the teachers, doctors, businessmen and women and parents of tomorrow. We have been members and leaders in activities such as Future Business Leaders of America, Student Council, Future Teachers of America and many other groups such as choir and band. It is the dedication that we have shown in these activities that qualified us to lead the future of America.

In conclusion, we are about to leave our second home. We have spent countless hours at Cassville High and we have made so many friends that it is going to be like leaving a family when we leave for the final time.

There will be new challenges, new friends and new places to discover in our future, but I hope that each and every one of us can take a small part of Cassville High with us. Remember the energy and anticipation you feel right now, and remember the encouragement you were given here. Choose memories that will inspire and sustain you, and most of all, remember the hours we spent laughing together as the Class of 2007.