Time Capsule: High School Graduation Speech

While rifling through my room as part of some spring cleaning that I've been doing, I decided to flip through the various awards I've gotten throughout the years (how narcissistic of me), specifically those received in the era spanning from elementary school through the end of high school. Nestled together with my high school diploma, I found the printout for my long-lost valedictorian speech at the graduation ceremony (I no longer have the original digital version of it, although a recording of my speech exists somewhere on a DVD). Excited, I reread it and typed it up to save for posterity. Although the speech itself is overly referential and wouldn't make a lot of sense to someone who did not experience middle school and high school together with the Landon Class of 2009, I still think there's some merit to posting it for all to see. Personally, I am simultaneously embarrassed by and fascinated with the actual content of the speech, because it provides a window into a very different version of myself from almost exactly six years ago (whew, it's been a long time). In any case, here it is:
June 5th, 2009
It is an honor and a privilege to be speaking to you today, and I cannot fully express how thankful I am to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today. To my mom, who has always been there for me, and my dad, who has sometimes been there for me, to my teachers, who have not only taught me a great deal but have also helped shape me into the person I am today, to my friends and classmates, who have helped keep me sane and smiling throughout my years here at Landon, to the members of the Landon community, who lovingly accepted me into their great bear family and have been supportive every step of the way, and to countless others who have touched my life in countless ways, I owe a great debt of gratitude.
Coming to the United States at the age of nine was quite an ordeal, but I’m happy my mom brought me here, because it’s such a great place. The first few months at school were a bit awkward, however, because I didn’t know any slang and had no idea what some kids were calling me. Luckily, I had a friend who brought me up to speed and taught me every swear word in the book. After two years of public school, I found Landon, or rather Landon found me. It was a great fit, though it took a little while to get used to the dress code.
Middle School was kind of rough, but given all of the changes taking place all at once, I think it went pretty well. I remember how many of us hated our trip to Echo Hill, not knowing how much worse Woodlands would be, how awkward a certain segment in Mr. Lewis’ class was, and how a number of us tried Mr. Wu’s patience on a daily basis in Chorus, and later Choir and Glee Club. I remember how everyone started using the word “defenestrate” after having learned it in Mr. Harding’s geography class, how some of us sent hundreds of blank emails to each other just to be annoying, and how boring Julius Caesar was. I remember how bad we smelled after Woodlands, how noisy and obnoxious we were in Mr. Carter’s class, especially during the art history segment, and how awesome Mr. Johnson’s Ancient History class was. Yes, Middle School was certainly an interesting experience.
Upper School was very different from Middle School. No longer did we have to put up with assigned lunch seating, and we slowly became more and more independent. We had a huge influx of kids freshman year, which completely changed the social structure and made things a lot more interesting. Freshman year was a lot of fun – we had a blast at Camp Letts, tried to walk in a straight line while wearing beer goggles in Mr. Lawson’s Life Skills class, and dissected rats in Ms. Osborne’s class. Sophomore year was pretty good, too – I remember how Mike Mutryn made Mr. Fed’s PowerPoint a lot more moist, how my old laptop made me walk right into a “that’s what she said” joke, and how we all learned just how awesome free periods are. Junior year was a lot harder – we all got to see the inhumane side of Humanities, and we learned to hate the SAT – but quite a few of us had some fun playing L.I.F.E. and making fun of Justin Donaldson. Senior year was a mixed bag – first semester was really stressful, as each of us scrambled to shore up his GPA and to complete his college applications on time, but second semester was a vacation by comparison. One of the most important things I learned all year was that I had been using my electric razor incorrectly – apparently I wasn’t supposed to use shaving cream. I also learned that you don’t mess with raging rapids, especially not when you’re on a raft with five other people.
All joking aside, Landon has been a great place to be, and I’m sad to say goodbye. I will never forget the life lessons Landon has taught me and the strength of the bear brotherhood. We have had some good times together, and I’m confident that we will have good times in the future. We will all soon be attending fine institutions that will continue to prepare us for anything life can throw at us. Most importantly, we will always be the Landon Class of 2009, which means we will keep in touch with each other and will return to Landon as alumni more often than our busy schedules will permit. To all my ‘09 brothers, and to everyone in the audience, I wish you the best in your future endeavors.
Thank goodness, the cringefest is now over. I hope it was at least mildly entertaining.