Graduation Speeches Approaching!


Because PV has recently opted away from having a valedictorian, all of the seniors have an equal chance to give a speech at graduation. Because I generally enjoy writing and looking back on experiences of mine, I decided to write a speech myself. Here goes:

Nostalgia has probably been a focus of the human race since the first good thing began and then came to a close; it’s no great wonder that so many people have felt, thought, or written about it. It seems that nostalgia creates the perfect sort of melancholy mood to revel in, fondly recalling the memories and people that we have been gifted with.

Senior letters are rooted in this universal appreciation of nostalgia and have been a longstanding tradition here at PV; a culminating way to look back on the past four years of memories, people, relationships, and support that have made this experience such a pivotal one.

When our freshman English teachers first presented the idea of the letters to us it seemed like a brilliant proposal – why wouldn’t we be interested in reading about every minute detail of our lives four years later? Caught up in the contagious zeal for such a task, we put pen to paper to discuss all aspects of our current lives and, more importantly, our expectations for the next three years of high school and what might lie beyond them . We then gave up the growing envelopes to be locked somewhere in the depths of the English Department for the next few years. There they sat and were mostly forgotten, aside from the occasional thought that would linger on the expectation  of the nostalgia they were sure to evoke when we were finally allowed to open them.

These expectations quickly crumbled for me upon opening my letter, which revealed the most humiliating piece of writing ever produced . The only slight consolation in this embarrassment might be company, so I truly hope that I’m not the only one out here today who experienced this a few weeks ago.

The most horrific portion of it may have been the slew of exclamation points and my cringeworthy writing style. Or the three excruciating paragraphs about boys I liked at the time. Or perhaps my emphatic endorsement of Youtubers deemed cool circa 2011. At any rate, by the end of the letter I was certain that it lacked both nostalgia and any life lesson beyond “a person can change a lot in 3 years.”

However, three things stood out to me. These three things relate to expectations, hopes, and constants in my life – all things that have either become or remained true throughout my high school career.

Realizing that who I am now existed in who I was in the 9th grade exemplifies the community PV has, the growth that it fosters, and the encouragement it offers up. Rather than hide our quirky personality traits, our school allowed us to appreciate individualism and embrace ourselves, our friends, and our livelihoods. These four years have helped each of us to develop an understanding for who we want to be once the real world starts tumbling at us. And yes, self discovery is generally reserved for backpacking through Southeast Asia, driving across the US via Route 66, or attending college. But high school helped us begin to find ourselves as well. Everything – and everyone – shapes us, and whether it was through the encouragement to succeed or the ignition of a love to learn for reasons that go beyond a grade or a test, not a single classroom or teacher here was an exception to this. From Mr. Copeland’s contagious passion for knowledge to Ms. Fisher’s high expectations, each of our teachers played a key part in preparing us for our next steps.

Society seems to assume that knowing what we want to do with the rest of our lives will coincide with the day we graduate. This may be true for some, while others of us couldn’t be further from such decisions. But momentarily, that knowledge is far less consequential than the knowledge of how we want to live our lives and who we wish to be.

And despite the fact that we may be just as embarrassed by who we are as graduating seniors 3 years down the road, as we currently are by our freshman selves displayed in the letters, PV has prepared us to walk confidently into the next part of our lives, knowing these things well.

Combining ambition, a pursuit of knowledge, a strong sense of self, and an enthusiasm for life’s opportunities, I am positive that each one of us will move forward to define and achieve our success and I can’t wait to watch each of our futures unfold.


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