Originally Published June 6th, 2016
Starting this year, The Saber Slate will publishing the Valedictorian and Salutatorian speeches from Graduation for posterity. (There may be some slight differences from what was actually said)
Valedictorian Daniel (Euvin) Park
Good afternoon, friends, family, teachers, mentors, admirers, and graduates of Franklin High School’s class of 2016. It is an honor to speak to you all on this important day, and I hope I provide you with sufficient entertainment until the next speaker takes the podium.
I was selected for this honor because I have a ridiculously high GPA. You know what that means? It means my ratio of time spent having a life to time spent studying in a locked room is the lowest out of everyone here. Yet, as valedictorian, I’m supposed to be someone who represents the best aspects of my fellow students. This seems a little odd to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely talentless: my long hours of studying and practice have made me a more than competent scholar and musician. However, I am not an athlete. I am not an artist. I am not a writer. I am not a craftsman. I am not the kindest person here, the most imaginative, nor in all honesty the smartest. I do not represent the best of many aspects of the class of 2016; I don’t believe any single person here could possibly represent the best of all the facets of my peers. So, I’ll simply do the best I can to share with you all that the 348 of us have to offer.
We’ve won the SEC All-Sports Conference Championship 4 years in a row, numerous athletes have signed letters of intent to play in college, FBLA has qualified for nationals, we’ve sent thirteen sports to conference championships multiple times over the past four years, we have thousands of hours invested in volunteer work, we’ve put on great shows both on and off the Saber Center for our fall plays and spring musicals, we won Japan Bowl, our music department has sent dozens of events to WSMA state competitions, and our marching band has, for the first time ever, broken free of its last-place ranking at state.
Yes, we have been very successful, but we’d have accomplished none of that success without a great deal of guidance: so, let us now thank those guides. Thank you, parents, for walking with us every step of the way; stumbling with us, catching us when we fell, and sometimes even taking the fall for us. Thank you, teachers and counselors, for dealing with our sometimes less than savory attitudes, guiding us through troubles that we were too embarrassed to go to our families about, and giving us the tools to prepare ourselves for life beyond high school. Thank you, coaches, for constantly pushing us toward success when our own legs began to fail us. Thank you, administration, for your patience in organizing our school events, including this graduation ceremony. Also, a personal thank you to God, my father, Christ, my savior, and the Holy Spirit, my mentor, for keeping me in good health and in good hands; may you continue to do so. Finally, thank you, alumni of FHS, who we looked up to as your friends and underclassmen.
I remember how from before day one as a freshman at FHS, I spent a lot of time with my upperclassmen in marching band. They pushed me to my limits so that I could reach their level in as little time as possible, and they did so with smiles on their faces. I was included in all the pointless but amusing conversations we had in our free time, as well as all the social gatherings we had outside of rehearsal. They challenged me, but they were kind about it; they whipped me into shape when I deserved it, and gave me help whenever I asked for it. I’m sure most of us have had similar experiences. Our upperclassmen gave us good advice, pushed (and sometimes shoved) us in the right direction, and carried themselves as figures for us to follow; even to admire. I just hope we’ve been able to do the same for our underclassmen.
Whether we’ve given it much thought or not, we’ve all been upperclassmen to someone at FHS for three of the past four years. Whether it was through our academic achievement, athleticism, passion, musical or artistic talent, kindness and compassion, or simply taking the time to say hello every day, we have people who genuinely look up to us, and we owe it to them to be good role models like the ones we had when we were in their shoes. While to my knowledge, most of us have done an excellent job of doing so these past three years, I’d like us all to keep in mind that this type of relationship doesn’t end after just high school. Wherever we are, be it college, the workforce, or the military, there will always be people who we look up to, and people who look up to us.
So, I’ll leave you with this. I urge you to make good choices: choices that you can be proud of, choices that those who have guided you can be proud of, and choices that those you guide can be proud of. Let us all stand tall and walk forward with the conviction to do what we believe is right and to share that conviction with others, prepared to accept any and all consequences with no regrets.
I wish you all the best as you move forward in your lives. Thank you, everyone, and congratulations to Franklin High School’s class of 2016.
Salutatorian Louise Saraspe
Good afternoon everyone! I just wanted to start off by saying thank you all again for coming and thank you in advance for listening to what I have to say for the next couple of minutes. To be honest, I’m not the best at public speaking, so I’m going to make this short and sweet to make sure I don’t pass out and you guys don’t die of boredom or heat stroke, whichever comes first. So here we go.
I stand here absolutely humbled to be the salutatorian of a class of very intelligent and talented students. For instance, my good friend and the valedictorian for this year, Euvin, will be a future Harvard scholar and brain surgeon if I have my facts straight, and along the way he’ll probably cure cancer, build a time machine, and after that, world domination. You never know with him. Nonetheless, I am honored to even come close in ranks to such a genius who never ceases to impress me with this charisma.
To tell you guys a little about myself, I moved into this country from the Philippines in 2002 and I did not know what to expect. I barely spoke English, wasn’t accustomed to the modern technology of an advanced country, and never saw snow in my life. I think by now I’ve seen a little too much of it to be honest. But what my family and I did have in mind was, to put in a very cliche way, the American Dream. We wanted an education, job opportunities, and an overall improvement in our lifestyle. And as I stand up here, 14 years later, I can say that we have succeeded. And the more I think about it, we didn’t succeed because we were special or because we had a dream. We succeeded because we had a plan to get there. The other day I was on Google, the savior of most high school students, and I searched up the definition of a dream. What came up was “ an idea or vision created in the imagination that is not real”. When you put it that way, it makes it seem like dreams are unattainable, like they’re just fantasies created in the mind. But success is not imaginary and dreams don’t have to only exist when we go to sleep at night. If you have a goal that you aspire to reach, have a game plan, take action, make an attempt to move in the right direction.
All you really need to start is the determination, effort, and your right foot forward. And then your left, then your right, then left, then right, and lo and behold you are walking! You are walking towards your goal, moving towards where you want to be. And before you know it, you could be running or sprinting or skipping or galloping or cartwheeling. Whatever gets you moving. And even if you fall, whether it is because you hit a bump in the road or you are just not very good at skipping because you are uncoordinated like me, it’s completely fine. If you are down on the ground and think you can’t get back up, then crawl. Crawl on all fours, drag yourself across the ground. Just do not give up. Keep moving. You could do the worm all the way to the end for all I care because at least you’re trying, you’re getting there. And it’s pretty cool if you can do that, so style points for you. So whether you are walking or running or breakdancing your way to the finish line, when you get there, whether it’s a month from now or 10 years from now, you’ll look back, see how far you’ve come, and realize “I made it”.
So with that said, go out there and take those chances. Don’t leave any important words left unspoken. Don’t leave any important actions left undone. Take that leap of faith and work until the day where life is so good that no dream could compare to your reality.