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The following is taken from the valedictory speech at the Henry E. High School graduation:

Thank you and welcome: parents, family members, teachers, distinguished guests and my fellow graduates.

It is truly an honor to stand before you today as a representative of the class of 2010. We would not be standing here today without the support and guidance of our family and friends. They are our inspiration and our guidance. They helped show us the way.

I would like to take this time to especially thank everyone who has helped me throughout my high school journey. Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior: Thank you for every answered and unanswered prayer because both, I know, are a true blessing. My parents: for their support and inspiration. Mom: You are amazing and I love you, even if you do make me eat all my vegetables. Dad: You're the best, and try not to cry when I drive away today in your truck. I would like to thank my Aunt Koran and Uncle Jay: You are amazing and I love you. My little sister, Aaren: I don't know what I would do without you. The Sparkses for practically adopting me as their new daughter: I know Nanjemoy is a foreign country, but as soon as those adoption papers get there, I'm yours.

To all the supportive family members and friends here today, please allow my own personal gratitude to reflect that of my fellow graduates. So, how about it guys? Let's have a round of applause for our family and friends.

I would also like to take this time to thank the teachers who are the unsung heroes behind the graduating class of 2010. I would especially like to thank Mr. Crawford and Mr. Liston for being the best engineering teachers in the world. Mr. Moore, for preparing me for college and also for somehow brainwashing me into analyzing the theme of every single song that comes on the radio in my car. Mr. Gilligan, for being an awesome teacher and making me a complete math dork. Mr. Browder, for teaching me leadership and responsibility, whether as vice president of National Honor Society or as the leader of the ring of criminals who stole his beloved Tennessee Barbie as a senior prank.

And last, but certainly not least, Senora Edge, for being the best Spanish teacher in the world, even if we didn't get to watch "Selena" every day in class.

All the other teachers that I have not mentioned, you deserve special thanks also for your patience and skills at dealing with everything the class of 2010 threw your way. Guys, what do you say? Let's give our teachers a hand.

High school graduation is a very special day, a day not only to reflect upon the past but a day to look toward the future.

No door closes without another door opening. As those doors close behind us today and we walk away from this arena as graduates of the class of 2010, the doors to our future will open. We are the future of America.

We are the educators. We are the engineers. We are the doctors. We are the people. The leaders of tomorrow will mirror the graduates of today.

The strength, courage, leadership and character that we gained from our four years at Henry E. Lackey High School will carry us into our future. For some, college awaits. For others, our hearts will lead us in other directions. The class of 2010 is destined to do great things, as we have reflected in our four years together at Henry E. Lackey.

If there is anything that you take from this speech today, let it be this.

The future is in our hands, my fellow graduates. We must not live in fear; we must take life head-on and never give up on what we hold dearest to our hearts. We are strong. We are courageous.

We are unstoppable. Like a John Deere tractor, we just keep chuggin' along. We work great together, like a well-oiled machine. Other schools, like other tractors, will break down in time, but not us. We will continue to run; we will finish what we have started.

The future is ours because we are the future.

Holly Marie Olson, Nanjemoy

The writer is the 2010 valedictorian for Henry E. Lackey High School.