The Speech I Gave Tonight

Tonight, our school hosted a dinner for our graduating Seniors and our advancing Juniors. I was tasked with giving a speech. Which I did.

I was doing pretty well for a while… until I started crying.

If you’re thinking that I just let loose a couple tears and that it was overall sweet and dignified– you are incredibly wrong. I sobbed. I wailed. My voice climbed to impossibly high pitches and once or twice gave out completely. It was insanely embarrassing and impossible to stop.  Flood gates have released less water than my eyes did tonight.

Those of you that were there– I’m sorry. Seriously, it was not intentional. Just know that I will miss your students greatly. Also, if you weren’t able to actually hear the speech over the sound of hysterics, I’m sorry about that too. I’ve included it here. You may read it at your leisure (with less tissues needed). 

Junior/Senior Banquet (2015)

Tonight is a night for transition. For dreams of the future and fond memories of the past. Tonight, we honor our Senior Coyotes who move forward into a world that eagerly awaits them, and applaud our Juniors who must now step up to fill the shoes that our Seniors will leave behind. It’s a night for excitement and reminiscing. For honoring all that has happened, and all that is yet to come.

This world we live in is transient, forever changing and improving. It is beautiful in its splendor, but absolutely gorgeous in its potential. Its possibilities are only made brighter by those that are about to enter it. It is not possible to explain everything that you can do for this school and this world, but know that we have no doubt that you will accomplish all that you set out to.

As we watch our young people move to fill the spots that the universe has made for them, it is also important to always remember where we’ve come from, and what has led us here. Our past is undoubtedly as significant as our future, because while one is not necessarily determined by the other, there is no question that we are all shaped by the experiences that have led up to this point.

I wish I could explain to all of you how much these students have taught me over the last three years. Their dreams and goals, their tribulations and fears—every aspect of their apprehension or excitement for the future has danced alongside their pride in heritage and close bonds with tradition. A colorful quilt of past and future, each thread decorating the collage of memories and dreams that create each individual you see before you. It is awe-inspiring and beautiful.

To my students, I say this: Do not lose that. The world ahead of you is splendid in its scope and dazzling it its opportunities, but no matter where you go, do not forget where you come from. For every new person you meet or goal you accomplish, do not let them replace every moment of joy from your friends here or every word of encouragement that came from a respected elder. I have no doubt that you will be amazing, but do not let who you will be bury who you are now. Don’t forget your roots, but instead build upon them to create something more than what we have.

We are all made up of the knowledge and achievements that came before. Whether you are building up from the traditions of the school in order to make your Senior Year better than any that have yet come, or if you are expanding upon a society that has spanned generations, your purpose now is to make something better than what you were given in the beginning. You are tasked with leaving a legacy—with making our school or our world into something it hasn’t been before. All while remembering the legacies that others left for you, so that you would have the foundations with which to succeed.

Look around. You’ve known many of the people here since infancy. These are the people that have shaped you, nurtured you, loved you. These are the people who want to see you achieve all that you’re meant to, all that you care to. They are the ones that have done what they could to bring you to this point, and are deserving of honor. But, even as you honor them, you must remember to honor yourself. Hold yourself to the highest standards, the greatest dreams. Whatever comes from here, make sure you are worthy of your actions, and that your actions are equally worthy of you. We all look to you with pride, awed by your previous deeds and your future accomplishments. Move forward from here knowing that while the entire world awaits you, the path back home is always present as well, and that each step you take stems from somewhere. With every footprint you leave behind, know that you make us proud.

Lastly, I want to thank you for teaching me so much about your culture as you have in these last three years. I wish I knew how to repay you for that knowledge you so kindly and willingly provided. So, I’d like to direct your attention to the song on the back of your program. My grandmother sang this song to me when I was young, and she says her mother sang it to her. It is the last bit of my heritage that I can share with you, but I think that it is significant in its truth. Walk boldly and humbly wherever you go. Stand proudly and honor the truth that you know. Follow where your heart leads, for there you must go. Always remembering the path that brings you home.

Go forth and be amazing in your greatness, each of you. Remember everything that has made you who you are, because it will only add to who you will be. We look forward to seeing that person we’ve not yet met, but who we can glimpse even now. Again, thank you for everything you are and everything you will become. We are proud of you.

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One thought on “The Speech I Gave Tonight

  1. Pingback: A Final Round of Memories | Mortal Asphalt

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