Good evening. Welcome parents, family, friends, faculty, students and distinguished guests to our Commencement Ceremony for the Lake Stevens High School Graduating Class of 2004. Classmates, congratulations! We made it.
We didn’t do it alone, however. Please join me in a big round of applause for those who have stood by us throughout the years and who are with us today in spirit or in the stands: our parents, friends and teachers.
I’ve been planning this speech for a year and up until a few days ago I still couldn’t formulate what I wanted to say. I have so many things I want to express. I think high school is a lot like that, the more we plan our futures the more we see endless possibilities.
One thing is for sure though. High school has been a time of change and growth. Looking back on my Freshman year, I barely recognize the shy girl I was. When I visited my middle school teachers a few weeks ago they didn’t recognize me. And when they did, they were shocked that I was talking in front of hundreds of eighth graders. To which I responded, “Yes, I talk now.”
I entered my Freshman year with little confidence or strength, but big aspirations. A letter I wrote to myself that year went something like this:
Over the last four years I hope you have pushed yourself to be better. I hope you have learned that it’s ok to dance at dances, that it’s ok to speak up and that you have a lot more confidence in doing so. I hope you date guys or at least talk to them, that you are on your way to college, and that you have made a difference for Lake Stevens. I hope you went to Prom, memorized the Senior Cheer and cherished your friends.”
It’s funny that I had the guts to dream such things but I never would have believed you if you had told me I would be up here talking up here tonight. And I bet most of us wouldn’t believe what our futures now hold either. I dance at dances now. Not just little dancing, but dancing like I’m Leena Lambert who I am definitely not. I smile and strike up conversations as I walk down the halls like I’m Stefan Welch only a little less crazy. When I look back on my awkward eighth grade self I don’t recognize that girl.
But change hasn’t come without a lot of work and a lot of awkward phases. We have all pushed ourselves from our comfort zones and come to realize our abilities and strengths.
And even though our parents can’t believe we’re graduating today, we can. Sort of. The days, weeks and months went by slowly but looking back, the years went fast. As we look to the future, we are nervous, scared and excited. But most importantly, we are ready. Ready to fly.
Tonight is not the destination I once thought it would be. Take for example, these glamorous purple robes, which could fit the entire first row under or this cap I’ve readjusted more than fifty times. No, tonight is not the destination many of us imagined because it has transformed into a stepping-stone. A culmination of football games, dances, tests, applications, stress, parties, assignments, late nights and early mornings, tonight is only a small capstone. It is a celebration of our success and growth, but only one night on the road to many more successful nights. And while we will bring with us the memories of late nights at Sara Taylor’s house, crazy assemblies, and an eight-foot chicken, we will always be looking forward. Directly ahead of us we see college lectures, apartments, Marine Corps training, vocational school, travel, husbands, wives, nice cars, big houses, healthy kids, dogs named Spot, med. School, performances, interviews, internships.
We see possibilities. And hard, hard work. By now we realize nothing comes without hard work and obstacles. Hardships are what make us stronger. But with these future fights, we take with us the lessons that Mr. Kelly, Hodge, Fenner, Sr. Garcia, Monica Bauer, Mr. Talley and Mr. Cole have instilled in us. That our friends and family, sisters and brothers have instilled in us. That our parents have instilled in us.
I encourage all of you to grow in your futures. Learn to talk more, dance more, and smile more. Grow to be a better person everyday – to read, to travel and to help others. Mostly, grow to be happy and to find passion in your life.
Lastly, thank you. Thank you for the honor and challenge of allowing me to serve as your Associated Student Body President. Thank you for letting me be your student, your friend and your leader. I wish all of you lives of success to work for, obstacles to overcome, and happiness to find.