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TEXT OF STUDENTS' SPEECHES AND PRINCIPAL'S REMARKS AT GHS GRADUATION

May 30, 2014

Speeches at Granbury High School graduation on May 29, 2014, included the valedictory address by Rachael Rodgers, salutatory address by Riley Summer, and senior response by class president Marley Weeks.  GHS principal Jeremy Ross closed the ceremony with congratulatory remarks.
 
Valedictory Address
Rachael Rodgers, Valedictorian of the Class of 2014
 
Rachael Rodgers  
 
Behind every one of these graduates sitting before me today are family, friends, and teachers who have impacted their lives in spectacular ways. Without their support, it is unlikely that we would have made it this far, and if we had, we certainly would not be the same. To these mentors, I say: Our success is your success, for you have given us the courage to dare, the knowledge to excel, the belief that we can succeed, and the self-confidence needed to reach for our dreams. On the behalf of today's graduating class, I thank every single one of you.
 
Because of all of the fantastic people we've all had in our lives here, leaving is hard. The idea of going to college is obviously thrilling and exciting, but everyone in this room has someone they are going to miss. With a class this big, it's hard to say that we are all close and we are going to stay in touch and be friends for the rest of our lives. In reality, when we look back on high school, we won't remember the names of half of the people sitting in this room- we probably do not even know all of them now- but we will always remember the people who made an impact on us, and it is safe to say that there isn't a single person here who hasn't been impacted by someone from Granbury.
 
With that being said, it's okay to branch out. It's okay to make new friends. Actually, it's more than okay. I encourage each of you to meet new people and experience new things. Let yourself grow. You can't do that if you only ever do what you've always done or talk to who you've always talked to. Even if you're going to college with all of your best friends, branch out. In the words of Ann Landers, "Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead, that is where your future lies." As you leave high school, do not worry or grieve over leaving behind the life you have had. Do not waste precious time wishing you could do it over differently. Face the future with the resolve that you will make the most of every choice you make. Embrace the past, be grateful for it, learn from it, but move on!
 
C.S. Lewis also reminds us that "there are far better things ahead than any we leave behind." I hope that you look back on high school fondly, but I hope that you never consider these as the best days of your life. We've had a great run, but I hope your lives continually improve. That is something you should strive for above all else. Make it a goal that every day, you are happier than the day before. Where ever you are, whatever profession you pursue, always aim for happiness.
 
I want to take a minute to recognize Randy Sillivent. For those of you who do not already know, Randy recently had a car accident that resulted in some pretty terrible injuries. One thing that everyone can say with full confidence about Randy is that he is a great kid. He is always kind, he works hard, and he doesn't make stupid decisions. He wasn't drinking when he got into the wreck. He had stayed up all night at the drum-a-thon, a fundraiser for the band, and he fell asleep at the wheel. Parents: with project graduation tonight, please keep in mind that just because you have a great kid and just because they are not drinking does not mean they are fit to drive. Please pick your students up tomorrow morning or arrange another ride for them. We do not want to see anyone else in the hospital. And Randy: we are so happy that you were able to make it here today. Congratulations, and I hope your recovery is as speedy and as painless as possible. Can everyone join me in a round of applause for Randy?
 
I want to leave you guys with my sincerest congratulations. I am proud to call myself a member of this class, and I hope you all are too. But before I let the next speaker back up here, I need you to do something for me. I want to commemorate this moment with something that we are all a little too familiar with. Mr. Ross smuggled in my phone and I want all of you to smile because what could possibly be cooler than a selfie with my entire graduating class?
 
Thanks, guys! You're awesome, and once again, congratulations.
 
Salutatory Address
Riley Summer, Salutatorian of the Class of 2014
 
Riley Summer  
 
Students, faculty, parents, parliament, grandparents, people who just come to these things, and family friends who have been known to give very generous graduation gifts, I stand before you here today truly honored to be the salutatorian of the Granbury High Class of 2014, and to let that last category know my mailing address, come find me after the ceremony. I believe everyone up here has a passion. Music, science, math, writing, Netflix, whatever one’s individual passion may be, we all have something that drives us; drives us to do better, to work harder, and most importantly, to improve.
 
A central theme that I’ve learned from my years of high school is that education is crucial in the pursuit of our passions. That’s why I’ve turned this motto into a simple, easy to remember 43-word acronym. The “E” is for effort, as there are many parties who invest a lot of effort into our education, whether it is from faculty, parents, or us students ourselves. The “D” is for discipline, as a good education comes from a rigorous, self-imposed work schedule…While I would like to continue with the next 41 letters, I feel moved to speak for these next few minutes off-script, to truly speak from the heart to all of you. [At this point I will rip up my speech, pause, and pull a second copy of my speech out from my gown]. The “U” is for understanding; an example would be understanding that this joke has run its course.
 
In all seriousness though, our education is crucial. Whether it is formal or not, to improve in what we are passionate about, we need to learn more about our passions. We can’t just sit around waiting for life to happen to us, we need to be proactively pursuing life to have a purpose. That’s why these next few years are crucial. As we finish this chapter of our life with graduation we’re going to be facing the true preparation of our careers. I hope that all of us in this arena are able to pursue a passion and make a career out of it.
 
Personally, I have prayed and asked God what the next step of my life is to look like. All throughout high school I have asked God to show me His will and path for my life. I wouldn’t be in front of you today if it weren’t for the blessings and talents that God gave me. That’s why I’ve prayed for His guidance, knowing where these gifts come from; I want to use them to benefit God. 1 Peter 4:10 says “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
 
Now, as we finish high school, we have decisions to make. Decisions about our future. Decisions about what passions to pursue. My hope and prayer for this graduating class is that we are able to approach these decisions not with a sense of “how will this benefit me,” but instead with an attitude of a good steward. Asking “how can I use my gifts, my abilities, my blessings to benefit those around me, to better society.” I thank you so much, and congratulations class of 2014. God bless.
 
Response for the Class of 2014
Marley Weeks, Senior Class President
 
Marley Weeks  
 
Dr. Largent and Mister Jackson...on behalf of the senior class of 2014, I would like to say a special thank you - to you, and to everyone that is here tonight celebrating our graduation. To all the teachers, faculty, and friends that have supported us through these difficult 13 years, THANK YOU! Y’all know it hasn't been easy. Also, I definitely want to thank our parents for their support and unconditional love in our short 18 years of life…Thanks mom and dad!
 
Now, to the seniors... Well…We made it! All 385 of us !! It’s been a long road getting here tonight. But...We did it!
 
I have a question. How many of y’all have been in Granbury since preschool? I know MMCA has! Remember elementary school, the lunches with your parents, muffins with mom / donuts with dad, those stressful multiplication tests, recorder program, and those “musicals” we were always in? Oh, and nerve racking student council elections. Thinking back, we realize life was so simple then.
 
Next came the awkward middle school days. Yes, the food improved a little with the help of the snack line. For us girls- we finally had access to makeup (which was a little rough). And how could you forget the smells of puberty…yikes! Personally, I remember the talent shows!! You know, if you think about it, middle school was just an elementary school on steroids… because then came Crossland Ninth Grade Center- a.k.a. “the clash of the middle schools!"
 
There, some of us knew each other, but most of us didn’t. We were 400 kids crammed in what seemed like the world’s smallest school. But somehow we managed.
 
Next, finally, we made it to GHS…the “real” high school. Remember the first day, getting our schedule and thinking “how am I ever going to get around this huge school”? Now here we are, three years later.... after all the Pep rallies, homecomings, all the Friday night lights. When you think about it, we’ve really had the time of our lives.
 
High school at times was honestly a social nightmare. Lots of drama, lots of fighting, but also...lots of growing up. We were given so many choices - like what classes to take, or what clubs to be in. To do this plan, or that. So many decisions! When we hit the doors here 3 years ago, most of us had no idea at all about what we’d be doing after graduation.
 
Well, y’all...here we are. So do you really have any idea of what you’re going to do next? High school was definitely fun “at times”, but I have a feeling we’ll look back very soon, and think, “that was nothing”!   Life, is next…and I hope that you make it something! I hope that whatever you do, you always think about others. That’s what will make your life meaningful. It’s what you do for other people that will bring fulfillment, joy, and happiness to your life.
 
I hope y’all have a great summer, but I really hope y’all have a great life! That sounds so weird, but that’s what we’re talking about... life. Congratulations y'all, we did it!
 
Celebratory Remarks
Jeremy Ross, Principal
 
Jeremy Ross  
 
As these Commencement Exercises come to a close, we ask that everyone please remain in your seat until the conclusion of the Recessional.
 
I always save the last few words of Graduation for myself. I have a couple of members of my team that will be pursuing other endeavors next year. Two of our most familiar faces at Granbury High School are retiring. Nancy Peterson, thank you for your leadership with our social studies department. And then there’s Leta. Coach Andrews, thank you for more than 50 years of court and classroom excellence.
 
Familiar to several of us throughout GISD, we say adios to Mr. Victor Sauceda, who will be leaving us to take an administrative role at Stephenville High School. He’s going to be a Yellowjacket. Remember, sometimes Pirates have big flyswatters…
 
Our Superintendent, Dr. Largent had all of the principals make a list of some accomplishments on our campuses this year. Here are just a few:
  • US News and World Report Silver Medal School
  • Formula 1 in Schools National Championship (2nd) advancing to WORLDS in Abu Dhabi
  • 20/22 Sports saw post-season action; including a GIRLS VOLLEYBALL team that was one-click from a STATE TOURNAMENT berth and a two-time STATE DOUBLES TENNIS TEAM
  • Sweepstakes Band and Sweepstakes Choir (several years in a row now)—ALL-STATERS in both organizations and 24 STATE UIL medalists from this weekend for band and choir
  • Regionally Recognized Wizard of Oz and Pajama Game productions (Hailey, Bailey, and Joel, OH MY!)
  • State Champion We The People Team, representing us in Washington DC for the 2nd year in a row
  • MCJROTC Rifle Service National Championships in Anniston, Alabama

And one of my favorites:   Almost SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS in scholarship money awarded to the Class of 2014.

Parents, Grandparents, family and friends—the Class of 2014 is truly outstanding—and you should be very proud.
 
Students—on behalf of your teachers and staff, we are very proud of you. Thank you for legacy you leave to Granbury High School.
 
In our final act of celebration and as a symbol turning the page from this chapter of your life, with your left hand take your tassel and say with me
 
CLASS OF 2014-----GRADUATES 2014!