- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The following is an excerpt of the valedictory speech given at the Maurice J. McDonough High School graduation:
This is a wonderful night. A culmination of years filled with challenges, defeat, perseverance and victory. We’ve survived the awkwardness of adolescence and morphed into young adults ready to take on the next chapter of our lives. It is indeed a proud moment for us all.
When our principal, Mr. Snow, told me I earned valedictorian, I was pretty excited. Thrilled actually. … Until I realized I was going to have to give a speech before thousands of people. Then, let’s just say, the thrill was gone and nerves set in.
My first inclination was to ask Mr. Snow if I could just tweet my speech or post it on Facebook or upload it on Instagram. But I knew he would laugh and tell me to march forward because, really, isn’t that what we have been doing all along? Marching forward, tackling our challenges and working toward the goal of being right where we are tonight?
But still, the questions lingered. What would I say? How would I say it? What would my message be? I agonized for days, sometimes wishing it would all go away. But here I am and, the truth of the matter is, I am honored to stand before you tonight to convey an important message to the people who helped us get here and to reflect on what we learned.
Parents, teachers, administrators, take a look around.
What’s amazing right now, as I look out at all of my classmates waiting so patiently for their high school diplomas, is that for the first time in a long time we’re not texting, or typing on a laptop, or taking pictures with our cellphones. Instead, we are here, in this moment and we want to say thank you. We know the surge in nonface-to-face communication is worrisome, but I want to reassure you that your talks, your motivational quips and your love and support is what helped us reach this milestone.
So, what will we take away from our time spent at McDonough? We learned so many important lessons. Mr. Perillo taught us how to balance chemical equations. Mrs. Bennett taught us the biological processes. Mrs. Linn taught us how to write essays in MLA format and Mrs. Simpson taught us that green is the best color on earth.
And all of this knowledge will no doubt be valuable to us as we go forward in life, but I think that the most important thing that we have learned over the past four years is how to build relationships and work together to achieve our goals. In 2009, the softball team worked together and earned a state championship title as well as the football team in 2010 and the golf team in 2011. The Unified Sports Track team worked together and earned state championships in 2010 and 2012.
The National Honor Society members worked together as volunteers for a variety of different organizations to better the community and help those in need.
The Student Government Association worked together to provide a multitude of opportunities for their fellow classmates and make the high school experience an unforgettable one.
The Performing Arts Department members worked together to produce exemplary productions and concerts that provided us all enjoyable entertainment.
The list goes on and on and all of these accomplishments were made possible by the spirit of cooperation that students and adults formed by working together. What resulted was a McDonough family to be proud of.
So how will building relationships and working together help us as we travel our separate paths? We all now have the skills to build quality connections. Those connections, those friendships, they will become our network for success. Build them wisely; build them for the long term.
We also have the skills to work together as a team. Research from Fortune 500 companies tells us that skill alone will set us above the rest. Reflect upon these team experiences, whether you were on a sports team, part of an organization, or a member in a group classroom activity, and apply what you have learned to every challenge your future brings.
But now that this part of the journey is over, we’re ready. It's time to start a new and exciting path, full of new challenges and lessons.
Erica Richardson, La Plata
The writer is the valedictorian of Maurice J. McDonough High School’s Class of 2012.