As you may be aware, I have recently graduated. For the ceremony, I, a valedictorian, was asked to speak. Here is my speech:
Before anything else, I would like to recognize those that have helped each of us, as students, get where we are today. We could not have developed as we have without our family, friends, and teachers who have made this journey possible. For me, I would like to say that without God, my life would have gone down a very different path.
That being said, I want to quickly tell you about myself. As you already know, thanks to the generous introduction, my name is Sarah Ashbrook. I have been with CAVA since 7th grade and this school has provided me opportunities that few others could have. Due to the flexible nature of the daily class schedules, I was able to spend time with family that lived out-of-state, while still being able to succeed in school. I was never “locked away” from the world, though perhaps somewhat sheltered, but my parents and faith has afforded me a strong moral backbone that I will retain throughout college, as I pursue a major in Ecology.
Now, class of 2014, while you know a bit more about me, I realize that this graduation event will quite possibly be the first and last time we meet, due to the circumstances that make our school so unique. However, what is unique is that which in turn makes us strong.
You know, when you first tell someone that you attend an online school, you get one of two responses:
- The first is a sympathetic, “Oh, honey,” while they are privately wondering why you voluntarily chose to be a hermit.
- The second is the “you are sooo lucky” that is shortly followed by the naïve beliefs that we get to wake up super late and finish our work incredibly early, while still maintaining a perfect GPA. I don’t know about your situation, but I had to work to get where I am today.
- And that’s why I think this has helped us all, because now we know how to work independently and we work hard. We’re prepared for our futures.
Keeping that in mind, I know without a doubt that we have had some shared experiences, you and I. Whether it be the frustrations of internet connection problems, the occasional scrounging around the house for something to eat, blackouts, or the sometimes inconvenient K12 website updates. We have made it through this thing called “High School.” And, although we may not have experienced all of the glitz and glamor of the “traditional” high school experience (prom, homecoming, senior pranks, peer pressure, “who needs ‘em”), we, instead, know that for us high school will NOT have been the best years of out lives; those times are in our future. We came to learn and experience; now we can go forth to share that knowledge.
“Education is improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” – Marian Wright Edelman
In conclusion, I have three bits of advice for all you Graduates, coming not only from me, but also my mentors:
- Stay true to yourself and your values
- Always do your best at whatever life throws at you
- Pay attention to the advice of your elders; they have lived and learned the hard way so you don’t have to
“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try” says Gail Devers, and Thomas Edison states that “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
We are young; we have the world at our fingertips and whether we know where we will be next year or not, go out courageously and make a change!
“Dreams, they don’t work unless you do!”