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May 12, 2006

Yeah, no one came to watch the track meet.  I didn’t actually expect anyone to, since no one ever has.    Boo to all of you.  No, not really, I guess I could TRY and understand how a track meet might seem boring to normal people…sigh…

You didn’t miss anything anyway.  The air was so dry that my lungs were parched after the first lap of my mile, which as a result went miserably: 5:22.  My half mile actually went pretty well–2:18–and I would have gotten a personal record there easily if it didn’t come only about an hour after the mile, which meant my lungs were still on fire.  And I’ve been coughing up phlegm since I came home, in case you’re interested to hear that.  Glorious indeed.

I’m not as upset as I thought I’d be, though.  I guess track really just doesn’t mean as much to me as it used to.  Or rather, different parts of track mean something to me.  Like the company.  Runners are, without a doubt, the coolest people in the world.

So… here’s my completely revamped valedictory speech that I whipped up tonight.  It’s still nothing earth-shattering, but I think it’s better than the other two I wrote.  Only problem is, it’s too long.  Oh well.  They’ll just have to make everyone stay for one extra minute.  Gasp.

            Faculty, guests, and my fellow graduates of the class of 2006:

            …The class of 2006.  Class…of 2006.  Huh.  Have you ever had that weird feeling where you repeat a word or a phrase over and over again, and it’s like—it’s almost like it doesn’t make sense anymore.  Like it doesn’t mean anything.  Class of 2006.  What does that even mean?  I mean, how do you define a class?  Our class?  What sets us apart from all of the other classes that have come before us that prevents me from ripping a graduation speech off the Internet and modifying a few things here and there so that it sounds like I wrote it?

See, I wanted to start out this speech by saying what these four years of high school mean to all of us, the “class of 2006.”  But I don’t know that I can do that justice.  High school means so many different things to so many different people here.  It would be pretentious of me to think that I can tell you what high school means to you.  I don’t even know a lot of you.  Four years here, and I still don’t know the names of everyone here in this class.  And I’m a two-time king candidate at the high school dances—I oughtta know people.  It almost seems like I should feel guilty about it, but come on—do any of us know everyone here?  If you do, you should be up here giving this speech, not me.  But somehow I don’t think that’s the case.

So I’m stuck here trying to say something meaningful to a bunch of strangers like I’m qualified to speak for them.  Shall I define our class by rattling off all of our accomplishments?  We have made a lot of them.  This is the class, after all, that paved the way for that all-time high on the STAR testing, beating out the likes of Oak Ridge.  But hold on—it’s not because of all of us that we got that high score on the testing.  I’m not gonna lie—some of us pulled our weight more than others.  And you know what?  Maybe high test scores aren’t such a big deal to all of us, anyway.  I mean, is that really how I should define our class?  By reducing us to a statistic?  Should I condemn everyone who scored poorly on the STAR testing just because they don’t fit my definition of an accomplishment?

Or shall I define our class instead by reminiscing about all the good times we’ve had together?  Yeah, we did have some good times in Mrs. Hillesland’s class—oh wait, I forgot.  We haven’t all been in Mrs. Hillesland’s class.  Well, are there any experiences that all of us have had?  I guess at least almost all of us saw that “Every Fifteen Minutes” production, and that did make an impact on a lot of us.  But then there were others who thought it was sort of ridiculous that everyone was getting so worked up over something that wasn’t real.  I guess I could always just ignore those people and say how all of us made it through that difficult experience together, but that would be a lie.  Because if I ignore those people, then we’re not together.  Not all of us.

            You know, this isn’t the speech I originally had.  I had a different one first, and I had a bunch of people I knew read it and critique it for me, hoping that I could see what needed to be changed.  But it didn’t really help.  At all.  The reviews I got were everywhere—some really liked it and told me how much it rang true to them, while others just didn’t care for it much at all.  Still, enough people responded well to it that I decided to use it.  But then Mr. Carroll, who was checking everyone’s speeches before we presented them, told me it was too negative to pass muster in front of the panel of judges who decide what speeches are going to be read.  I didn’t know what to do.  Nobody else I talked to had told me that.  I was receiving such mixed signals from everyone that it was impossible to sort them all out.

And then, the night before I had to present my speech to a panel of judges, I realized something.  I realized that nothing I could say in a four minute speech could possibly mean something to everyone.  Because if there’s one thing that defines this class, it’s diversity.  In other words, you’re not “the class of 2006.”  You’re not the “class” of anything.  You’re individuals.  And try as I might, I can’t make an impact on every single one of you.  All I can do is say something that means something to me, and hope that all of you will get something out of it.  It’s up to you to know what defines you.  And if you don’t know, find out.  Now.  Do whatever you have to do.  Because if you don’t figure that out for yourself, nobody, and I mean NOBODY is going to be able to figure it out for you.  I sure as heck couldn’t.

This is your speech, graduates.  Write it the way that you think it should go.



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  1. yeah, my throat was burning too.  in fact my left tonsil/inner ear still hurts every time i swallow.
    and yes, track is so much more exciting than most people would understand.  i think that finally hit me this year after watching all of our relay teams go neck-and-neck with others and putting all they’ve got on the track. 

  2. Anonymous permalink

    ahhh so THATS how you spell phlegm, always wondered =)

  3. indeed runners are the coolest people in the world. yeah i have the same opinion of track. i loathe running, but its also a really good leraning experience and the people totally make ur day after all the stress/dullness of a schoolday. anyways, nice speech. very insightful.

  4. good speech chris. but…does this mean i can’t murder you for bragging about beating oak ridge at the SAT’s? i suppose you are right, i can’t say that EVERYONE at OR is better than everyone at folsom, since i didn’t know everyone…and now i probably only know less than 5 people who are still going there…and come to think of it, they did spawn one of the worst people who ever existed (gibbb)…so maybe folsom’s not so bad after all. just mr. poorards. may he always remain just as he is, poor and loathed by everyone. hey! that’s something all folsom high students have in common – surely you must all hate the principal!

  5. oops, i meant star testing. hey, that’s not as important as the sat’s! somehow, even after all i’ve rationalized, that still makes me feel a little bit better…hehe

  6. My track experiences were all within two middle school years, but you’re right; runners make good company. I guess it was more fun back then when competition was less grueling, and I was still agile. Can’t say much about that now :P.

  7. Anonymous permalink

    I like the speech. It’s an interesting angle on things.

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