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A High School Graduation Speech

Updated on February 25, 2014

Graduating high school is a big achievement in many people lives. It marks the end of time of youth and tomfoolery and a beginning of a time of independence, exploration, and adulthood. Many of you out there will get a chance to speak at a high school graduation however most of you will not. I was chosen as an alternate to speak at my graduation and although I never got to speak, my speech was still prepared. Now that ten years have passed and I revisited my youth, I'd like to share my speech with all of you. If only I had gotten a chance to speak, I can only wonder what impact it might have had on my fellow graduates, if any at all. However, I'll be the first to admit that my speech isn't that good - heck, I was 17 when I wrote it!

My Speech

I stand before you, behind this podium as a graduate of this fine high school. As I stand, I also rest, my mind is at peace; I have finished 12 long years of learning. I glance quickly at the clouds and the sun, and I wonder what they will look like tomorrow. What will life be like tomorrow, I also ponder? Will I one day have a job? Or will I be lavishly living in the comfort, or discomfort, of a college dorm room? Once again I glance at these hazy clouds. Maybe these clouds aren’t so happy; maybe they are nebulous masses of pollution. Will I someday end up a convict, or a homeless vagrant by chance, or a zookeeper perhaps? Only the everlasting command of fate will truly know the future's decree.

What is to be made of life’s great-unfinished path? In actuality, our lives have just begun. We all have experienced many things up onto this point. Many have made mistakes that caused them pain, but in the end, it most likely helped them. If it doesn’t kill you, or get you put in jail forever, then it will make you stronger. After all, isn’t it best to make most of your mistakes when you are young? That’s when your parents can take the blame for you, right? As teenagers, it becomes necessary to make mistakes. Not purposeful of course. But it becomes an integral part of the learning process.

Its not until you put your own blood, sweat, and tears into something, that you really start to appreciate it. Your parents buy you a car, and expect you to take care of it. But since, you did nothing to receive this car, you don’t care too much about it. In a way, High School is kind of like that. Soon after starting school most of us realized that graduation will not be handed to us. We all had to work hard, complete assignments, and pass tests. Graduating High School is an achievement to be proud of.

Many of us here have jobs, or once have had the pleasure of having a job. Work teaches you the value of a dollar. Then we get our first paycheck. We all feel like we’ve won the lottery; when I got my first paycheck I remember thinking, “I’ve never gotten a check this big before!” Then we all realize how fast money can disappear. We are then consumed by the desire to attain vast amounts of wealth. Then we make our first mistake; we end up in debt. Our parents shake their finger and say “Shame on you.” They once again bail us out of the hard times, and point us back toward the face of responsibility.

Great success is achieved through hard work and self-discipline. And with great success, comes great responsibility. Throughout high school, we are taught to work hard and get the good grade. We are taught to the test, so to speak. We learn only what is taught. Life’s lessons aren’t learned in a textbook. Life’s not about getting an “A” or being perfect. One useful thing that we do learn though, is that to try your best, at everything you do. If your best is a “B,” then so be it. If you are happy in knowing that you did your best, then that is all that matters. No one can ever ask you to do more than your very best.

And let's not forget about our important social lives. We eagerly begin our first day as a freshman, making an admirable attempt to find our place in the high school hierarchy, only to come to the distinct conclusion four years later that, popularity statuses will not be of the utmost importance. Sure its fun to be popular, but it serves no enduring purpose. That’s why I like to use the term “well-known.” I believe its better to be well known than it is to be popular. To be well known, is for your existence to be acknowledged by all those around you Being well-known, can, in fact, get you places in this world. The "references” line on a job application, is all about who you know and not how popular you were.

Perhaps someday I may say, "I’d like to thank the academy!” But for now, I want to thank my parents for all they have done to make my life what it is today. They helped wake me up when I over slept. They have made so many sacrifices for me; what keeps me going is the fact that I know that whatever happens in this world, my parents will still love, support, and care for me. I’d also like to thank my friends for everything they’ve done. Together we shaped each other’s live; molded them like warm clay, into the visage of what we are today. My friends and family have helped motivate me to become better today than I was yesterday. I believe that each and everyone of us here could easily say the same thing.

The past has left, the present is leaving, and the future is arriving. One second at a time, it comes. I ask the fortune of the clouds to once again answer me this question: "What will the future bring?" “I’m going to go to college,” I tell my parents. I’m the first child to go to college, should I feel lucky or proud? I am both blessed and burdened with the task of college. What’s more, is that I will be out on my own. And it’s all made possible by my parents, friends, and family.


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