Salutatorian Speech

Just thought I’d share the speech I made almost a month ago [insert gasp here] when I graduated from high school. I decided my theme should be “Time”, since I have had such difficulty with nostalgia, growing up, and preparing for the future. And yes, I did reference Mean Girls and quote Doctor Who.

“Good evening parents, teachers, board of education members, siblings who are wondering why they have to sit out here just for that ten seconds during which their brother or sister get their diploma, and, most importantly, the Class of 2014. Graduation seems to always focus on two things: the past and the future. This fall the Science League participated in the Ocean Science Bowl at Rutgers, and we decided to commemorate this experience by buying a fish for Mr. T’s classroom. We named it Fetch, both because this is a type of wind pattern which causes waves, and because of the movie Mean Girls. So, Class of 2014, you’re welcome, we made fetch happen. All of us, no matter what we have been involved with, have these inside jokes and special experiences with those we are close to. Though I cannot name all of these, because they are your own individual experiences, I really hope these are the things you remember about high school.

As a wonderful friend reminded me while I was writing this speech, graduation is not about perfection; we’ve already passed all our classes and possibly trashed old papers. We’re done. Graduation is about honoring us. Let’s honor our high school adventures and the teachers who have enriched our lives. Sorry Ms. F, there are no Shakespeare quotes in this speech. Let’s celebrate each other. Though I am honored to be your salutatorian, there are so many of you out there who are just as or more qualified to speak to our class. You are experts in political science, chemistry, or theatre. You are incredible dancers and athletes. If you are artistically inclined, I envy you, because five year olds have been disgusted with my drawing skills.

Finally, we look towards the future. Elton Pope, an obscure character in a TV show called Doctor Who, states, “When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… Grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much madder. And so much better.” Some people say our high school years are the best years of our lives, but I challenge you to get better and better each year. As we look forward to our futures, I challenge each of you to depart from the norm and create your own strange, mad, better world.

My final advice to all of you is to take time. Take time to figure yourselves out, to realize what it is you want. Go out, live, take risks, make mistakes, come back to square one, try again. Fail as much as you possibly can. Take time to be open to new ideas, and to love and be loved. Take your time growing up, and don’t forget to be a little immature and rowdy every now and then. Congratulations Class of 2014, and good luck, though I know you will not need it.”

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I’m a high school graduate!

Last night was my high school graduation. While I was at the actual ceremony, I had a headache, nerves about making my salutatorian speech, and the sun in my eyes for most of the evening. I was also hot and sweaty from sitting in the sun, and therefore did not feel the reality of graduating sink in. I felt like I took everything in, as well as I could; I watched closely as all of my classmates graduate, hugged a bunch of teachers, and danced to “Happy”, which they played after the formal ceremony was over and we were all set loose to roam around the football field.

This morning the realization hasn’t fully sunk in yet, but I’m panicing about nothing in particular, so I’m starting to get there. I’m really stressed this morning because there is so much I have to do today. The fact high school is finally over also makes me feel a little depressed…there’s a lot I wish I had done better. My salutatorian speech was okay, but not exceptional or personal at all. Most people did not laugh where I expected them to, and that discouraged me. I did not feel bad about it last night (I was too in the moment of graduation I guess), but now looking back I feel a lot worse about it.

Even though I spent the night with my two best friends in the world, I feel very lonely. Or maybe that’s why I feel lonely? I had the option to go to Project Graduation, essentially a party the school hosted at the Funplex after graduation, but because my two best friends were not going, I chose not to. Either way, not many people reached out to me before, during, or after graduation to talk or share congratulations. I did not anticipate this post becoming miserable, but that’s sort of what happened.

Though I sort of feel like a wreck now, last night was pretty beautiful, even though I had not been hit with the full force of graduating. I feel it’s going to be coming on very soon though…it’s so scary being an adult now. I think once I start making my to-do lists, organizing everything in my life, and completing tasks, I will feel much more at peace.

I’d like to close by sharing the quote I used in my graduation speech.

“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all…grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger. It’s so much madder. And so much better”

-Elton Pope, Doctor Who

P.S. I know that’s not the whole quote, I cut out the “so much darker” part because I did not want to be more verbose than I already was, and because talking about a “dark world” during graduation seemed a little too weird for me. If you wanna read my whole graduation speech, I’m going to make a page for it.