Written by Logan Harvey, 2011 WHS Valedictorian Tuesday, 28 June 2011 22:57
Good evening everyone! Glad you could make it to this once-in-a-lifetime celebration. Tonight, I am happy to report WE MADE IT!
It was nearly 4 years ago that a group of bright eyed freshmen walked into the doors of Wakulla High School and began a journey that ends here tonight. The feelings of that day are stored in our collective memories – and no matter the paths we’ve taken individually to get here, we are forever bonded now. The unique actions of many come together as one on our home football field, surrounded by the red white and blue, like so many Friday nights before.
Some of our choices may have gone unseen to many around us. Only you know the path that got you here. I pray the memories are fond, but no matter what, remember they shaped who you are as you graduate tonight. My hope for each of us is that we take what we we’ve done, what we’ve learned, and what we’ve felt and use it to be a better person as adults than we were as freshmen. I’ve listened to conversations closely over the last few weeks and many of us are excited to leave WHS. Some are indifferent, some sway in opinions and others are sorry that it’s over. The one thing I think we all feel is relief. No matter what your future holds, this is an accomplishment that can never be taken away.
On August 20, 2007, in our time of anticipation, the class of 2011 came together. We offered friends a hug, new kids a smile, and the lost a school map. We affirmed our ties to each other, and on that day, no matter which middle school we came from, or what town we moved from, we were united as one War Eagle family. Dedicated to the next four years, we quickly learned that it wasn’t going to be easy and openly declared that at some points, we weren’t sure if we would make it. But as we sit here tonight, each of us can proudly say - WE DID.
In time, maybe sooner, maybe later, each of us will reflect on what it was like to be a War Eagle. Some of us will be proud of the fact we spoke kindly to the ladies in the lunchroom, held the door for the next kid entering the hallway, and said thank you to our bus driver as we stepped off safely. Others of us will mature enough to be sorry we missed those opportunities. It may take many months, even years, to fully understand what high school was all about. I pray that we all recognize that while we can’t change the past, we can learn from it and brighten our future. High school is an experience like no other and one word can’t describe the things we have seen, heard and lived through in the past four years. But one thing I do know that happens to EVERYONE while in high school is this – it changes your life. Whether it was for the better or worse, that depends on your situation, but it shapes and molds us into who we will become. Changing our lives so that we, the class of 2011, can change the world.
Tonight’s graduation is a milestone but it is not the end of our efforts. We may rest on our success for a while, but that will not last long. Tonight we celebrate what makes us alike. Tomorrow we embrace what makes us different. There's no doubt that opportunities await us as soon as we step off this field. Some will go to college, some straight to jobs; others might travel, while a few brave ones join the military. Among this group, some can’t see past tonight while others have a vision that takes them all the way to our first class reunion. No matter what your plans, I pray that you remain faithful to your ever-growing potential.
I’d like to make sure every person in the audience knows that though we didn’t always show it, we’ve appreciated the love and the sacrifice it took to get us here. Your efforts have not gone unrewarded and in a little while, may we toss our caps in celebration of more than just a diploma. There is a cost to high school and tonight we honor our family and friends with our prize.
I also would like to thank the teachers, administrators and staff that tirelessly attempted to uphold the mission of Wakulla High School. Their vision was for 100% of our freshman class to be here tonight, not just with a diploma, but also with the technical knowledge, the academic skills, and the personal qualities needed for the future. I commend the WHS leadership and on behalf of the class of 2011, say thank you for all of your sacrifice and dedication to reach this goal. While we have lost a few along the way, the majority will walk the stage boldly tonight and enter into the real world – equipped with the knowledge and love you have given us.
The last of my thanks I give tonight is to the school board. The stand you take on important matters and the vision you offer our school system does not go unnoticed. Our county is regularly recognized as a leader in public education for Florida. I hope every graduate tonight is proud to tell people they graduated from Wakulla High School. Equally, I hope you’re satisfied with the outcome of our leadership. May we confidently leave this place, taking our unique talents and dreams, and make you proud of our accomplishments as a War Eagle.
Finally, to my fellow classmates, I say to you…Once a War Eagle, always a War Eagle. Please never forget that bond. Along the way, we may forget each other’s names. Likely you’ll not remember who delivered this speech or what it was even about… and that’s perfectly fine. But, may you never forget the feelings of brotherhood, joy, gratitude and satisfaction that are inside of you and this stadium tonight. We entered this school nervous and confused – “untitled” and unnamed in a sea of faces. We grew confident and became bold enough to get “in your face” as we discovered what “it takes” to be the best. And now, we are “on the edge” of greatness as we step off this field tonight. WE ARE THE ONES. The ones that will take the world by storm. The ones that will never say never, and never give up. In your darkest days and your most successful moments, I pray that you never forget that there is a group to which you belong – this group, this senior class, this family. And may the War Eagle bond always encourage you to shoulder more than your share of life’s tasks that lay ahead, whatever they may be. May God always bless, lead, guide, and protect each path that you take as you begin this new chapter in your life.
Thank you all!
Photo by Karen James
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