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Danvers High valedictorian speech

Posted by Gail Waterhouse  June 16, 2010 11:00 AM

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The following is the text of the graduation speech given by Rebecca Bay, Danvers High School valedictorian for the class of 2010:

Good afternoon parents, teachers, faculty, administrators, school committee members, students, relatives, neighbors, pets.  Welcome.

Today, the day of our graduation, marks the end of our experiences here at Danvers High School, but it is not the end of the road.  To employ a few more clichés, “Today is the first day of the rest of our lives,” or “It is not the end, but the beginning,” or “Oh, the places we'll go!” or just about anything else from Doctor Seuss.  However cliché and overused those statements may be, they are undeniably true.  We will not hear Mr. Strout request that we “be good to one another” over the announcements each day.  We will not have to navigate through the masses of people that stand, unmoving, in the hallways before the bell rings.  We will not have to be troubled by the occasional early-morning fire drill while it's raining outside . . . we hope.  We are leaving the school that has helped us to become young women and men, “ladies and gentlemen always,” and are going out into the world.  We are no longer “kiddos.”  We will go without our parents to serve as our alarm clocks.  We will go without our teachers to remind us to please pass in that paper that was due a week or so ago.  We will go without many of the friends we have made here over the past four years.  But we will go.

We're all a little, or perhaps more realistically, a lot, afraid to leave and to face what we don't know.  We are comfortable here.  It is familiar to us.  The girls know to use the bathroom on the second floor because it has paper towels and a mirror; the boys all use the lockers on the first floor because . . . well, I'm actually not quite sure why they use those lockers; and we have all figured out just how exactly to eat our lunch in twenty-two minutes.  It would be easy to stay and to say that our education and experiences are complete, that we have seen and done all that there is to see and do.  However, to remain here, in this one place, is to settle, and to squander the abilities that we all have.

In the epic poem Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson, the aged but strong-willed hero returns home to Ithaca after the Trojan War.  He stands exhausted—but stands nonetheless—experienced, wise, and restless, refusing to end his journey.  “How dull it is to pause,” says Ulysses, “to make an end, / To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use.”  For us to rest here, to declare that we have finished learning and experiencing, would be to waste everything for which we have worked.  It does not do for us to anchor ourselves here in the present, to cease to develop our intellect and education in the future.

As Ulysses addresses his ship's crew while looking out over the horizon, he declares that “it is not too late to seek a newer world.”  There is still “some work of noble note to be done.”  His journey in life, much like our own, is far from over.  Every thought, and every action, and every experience in his life molded his character and personage.  Similarly, our own individual thoughts, actions, and experiences have molded us into the people we have become.  While we were not all members of the same classes, athletes on the same sports teams, or even close friends with all members of this class, we have influenced and impacted each other.  As Ulysses states, “[We] are part[s] of all that [we] have met.”  For Ulysses, only in thinking, doing and experiencing did he come to the realization that the only way to live one's life to the fullest is to continue pursuing, up until the very end, the endless expanse of knowledge that awaits beyond the horizon.

As we leave here today, rather unsure about what we will do with the rest of our lives, but nonetheless excited about what the future will be like, we cannot forget to follow Tennyson and to “roam with a hungry heart.”  There is so much that we want to know, and we have so many questions that have yet to be answered.  We all have the potential to discover the unseen answers and to find the hidden meanings that exist.  We must stay motivated and curious, and continue to search.

So, in close, fellow classmates, I say that we are an accomplished class, composed of accomplished individuals, certain to live accomplished lives.  As we mature and forge our own futures, we must continue to question, and to pursue whatever it is that lies ahead of us, and “to follow knowledge like a sinking star, / Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.”  We must embody the determination “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Let's graduate!  Thank you.

To see the salutatory speech from Danvers High graduate Anisha Shenai, click here.

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