Valedictorian Address by Julian Work
My Fellow Graduates,
Well, it’s finally here. Some of you thought this day would never come. For others this day has been all you’ve ever thought about for the past semester. To me, this day has always been a goal, but it felt so distant I thought I’d never reach it. But now we are here and we are graduating. We’re graduating- let that sink in if it hasn’t yet. After today, you never have to take another step in this school if you don’t want to.
We have all been in school for 13 to 14 years, that’s a majority of our lives. Some went to preschool, others didn’t.
But we all went to kindergarten, the start of our scholarly lives. You probably all have memories of writing chicken scratch with extra-large pencils and coloring inside the lines, or so you thought. Though it may have seemed like kindergarten was all fun and rainbows, the seeds of learning had been sown.
So a few years have passed, you’re in 5th grade. Hopefully you’ve made some friends. You’ve read all of the AR books in the library and you think you’re a big shot. In 5th grade accelerated reading points were a big deal, getting to buy prizes and snacks with them was great! But really the teachers had tricked you-well, not really tricked you-but had enticed you to read by using incentives. By doing this they hoped when you went on to middle and high school you would continue reading because you wanted to, not just to get prizes.
Now you’re in middle school, that awkward time where you are trying to find out who your real friends are. Most of the girls are still taller than the guys. For some of you, thoughts of the future have started to come into your minds: like what job am I going to have, am I going to go to college, will I go into the military. Then before you have even decided, you have to make your plans for high school. I’ll tell you, in 8th grade I had no clue what I wanted to be and I think for most that was the case, but making that choice was an uncomfortable shove in the right direction.
After many uncertain years now you’re in high school, and you have almost finished all of your required schooling. You’ve survived freshman year; for some it was harder than others, but overall it was do-able. Not as hard as it was made out to be. Sophomore year is when things start to get a little more stressful. Some of your classmates have already decided what they wanted to do but you, you are just happy you’re passing English class. Junior year seemed like it would never end, it seemed to just drag on and on and you couldn’t wait to be a senior. By now you finally have a slight idea for your plans after high school, but uncertainty still looms in your mind. Then all of sudden senior year hits you and it’s gone before you know it. Then senioritis kicks in and you’re ready to be done with homework and take on the world. The future is hazy still, but much less than before.
Now we’re back to today, graduation. It’s not the end, it’s a new beginning. After today it will be up to you to carve your own path toward knowledge, since college professors won’t walk you through it the way high school teachers do. And learning doesn’t stop after college, either. In the day-to-day routine of high school it’s easy to forget the love for learning that was sparked in kindergarten, but throughout all these years there’s always been a driving sense of curiosity for something that you like to learn about, whether it is math, literature, welding, building, nature, art, Ancient Rome or model trains. You’ve had it since you were little and hopefully, it will stay with you when you’re old. Hold on to that spark and let it grow into a flame. Education will always be a part of your life no matter if you go straight into the workforce, enter the military, or decide to go to college. There will always be more to discover, and not nearly enough time to discover it all. It might not be related to the classroom in any way-maybe it’s an important life lesson, one that you can only learn from experience. The important thing is to never let life pass you by-keep searching, and keep learning. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
In ClosingJeremiah 29:11 reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Thank You and Good Luck class of 2016!