I would like to wish you all a warm welcome and thank everyone for being a part of what is a memorable and celebrated close to a lengthy chapter in the lives of my fellow classmates and I. We sit here, among a sea of familiar faces, and they are faces that we know well and hold dear to our hearts.
We are here at the realization of a goal that many of us have been working towards for most of our lives. As we sit here tonight, together as one class, the moment is both joyous and bittersweet. Over the past four years, we have grown together much like a family and have enjoyed every second of it. Each laughter-filled moment and friendship made has taught us what we need to know to move forward, and has strengthened us as individuals. No matter the obstacles in our way, we have always seemed to find a way to overcome them. Because of this, we have witnessed many great accomplishments.
As graduates, we have reached the point where we must confront the unavoidable and uncomfortable word… Future. Lewis Carroll said, “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” I find this quote especially relevant this evening, for this ceremony signifies the end of a road we have long been traveling. A road that now finds itself at an endless crossroads as these people, with whom I’ve practically grown up with, now split into an infinite number of paths. This could very well be the last time in our entire lives that we will ever see each other, as both time and circumstance draw people away from us. It is especially important that we cherish these last few hours together, because for some this time means goodbye.
When we first began school, long before most of us can even recall, we had no way of knowing in what condition we would be standing here on this day. Back then, who would have thought that we would mature into the strong and intelligent individuals that we all are today? From that time to now, we have made unexpected friendships and grown apart from ones we thought would last a lifetime. We have faced obstacles that threatened to tear us down, laughed until we cried, became professional strategic procrastinators, overslept, under slept, and then pulled an all-nighter just to repeat the cycle. Despite our procrastination and the times we just felt like giving up altogether, we did it! By us being here today, it is clear that our hard work and determination have paid off. Along the way we were touched by amazing friends, inspirational teachers, and so many others who have made an impact on our lives. We got into some trouble, met some random people, and stayed up late for no practical reasons, and even with the inevitable stigma of the teenage years, we made it to this day relatively unharmed. As time has passed, we have been shaped into the people we are today, our own unique personalities who are now moving on with our lives to bigger and better things, in a world of endless adventures. And if not that, perhaps at least being able to sleep in a little later on the weekdays!
On a serious note, reaching this milestone would have been merely impossible without the support of our devoted principal and teachers. Mrs. Robinson spends hours upon hours of her time doing everything in her power to make our school one of a kind. She guided each and every one of us to the best of her ability into the adults we are today, helped us in any way she could, and was always there to listen and to make our school a safe, learning environment. Without Mrs. Ingle, I would still be lost and have no idea where I was headed to. She was forced to listen to our whining and complaining about college and scholarship applications, but she was always there to lead us and for that I give my sincerest thanks. She put countless numbers of hours into making our senior prom one of the most unforgettable nights of our lives. Each and every teacher at McDowell Early College strives to see the success of all students. When we were at our worsts, struggling to make good grades, and feeling like failures at best, they were always there to support us, encourage us, and help us carry on. They spent hours on top of hours trying to help us understand what they were teaching, and used pages upon pages to imprint the knowledge onto our brains. No matter how much we grumbled or complained, they pressed on, knowing that one day their efforts would pay off. I’m sure they never once gave up hope that we would make it to this level, gathered as the class of 2013 here today. For this, I give my upmost appreciation to every teacher and staff member motivated to making our time at McDowell Early College some of the best years of our lives.
The other well-deserving spotlight goes to the parents and families. I know that for me, my parents were my rock. Sometimes when I lost faith in myself, they kept me going. Each day our parents expect us to behave, be sweet, and to try our hardest. A lot of times we feel as if our parents don’t know what we’re going through. We fail to realize that they, too, were once our age, walking in our shoes. The truth is that our parents know us better than we know ourselves. Every step we took, they were watching at a distance, ready to catch us if we stumbled along the way. Without them, I would not be here, and I would not have had the drive to work hard at the tasks placed before me. They have given me a wonderful, loving home and have raised me to make the right decisions in life. I know that my family is proud of me, simply for trying my best at everything I do. Therefore, thank you Mom and Dad for everything you’ve ever done for me, even if it was just being there to lend an ear during a time of need or giving me advice to shape me into the mature young woman that I am today. Thank you to all of the families who are here in support of your loved one, ending a section in their life today, but opening up a whole new world full of more opportunities.
There are just a few things I wish for my class, a few that I learned these past few years. Pursue what makes you happy, because it makes you happy for a reason. There will always be troubles in life no matter what you do, people there to knock you down, and make you second guess yourself. Although times may be difficult, we can’t let adversity discourage us from success and attainment of our goals. Just remember that it’s your life, so make the best of it in every way you can. We all have the capability to do many great things with our lives. Put your heart into what you do, search for things you’re passionate about, and don’t dwell too long on the things that bore you. Be unique, for nothing was ever accomplished by doing everything exactly the same way as everyone else. Carve out your own path. Being perfect is overrated. If your best is not good enough for someone, than perhaps they just aren’t good enough for you. Don’t let anyone cut you down for being yourself, nobody is that special. Don’t forget those friends who have been there for you through thick and thin, and feel free to forget about those who were not there. But most of all remember one thing; live your life to its fullest potential, because in the end, it doesn’t matter what others thought of you, it is what you thought of yourself.
So, to wrap this up, my promise to my classmates is this: I promise to never forget the years I spent with you all walking the halls of McDowell Early College, not even when I’m one hundred. I hope it has been just as enjoyable for you as it has been to me. Thank you class of 2013 for making the past four years an unforgettable experience I will hold close to my heart for a lifetime. The ride has been great, but it’s time for a new chapter in our lives. I wish all of us the best of luck in the world, because we are likely going to need it someday.