James R Maxlow

My High School Salutorian Speech


For the past four years, we've been enduring the experience called high school. That's over a billion seconds of time, most of which was spent waiting for it to be over. Well, it finally is over. The question is: what do we do now? What do we do now that we don't have to spend our time as others see fit? What do we do now that we are truly free to make our own choices?

An idealist might say, "Whatever we want," but of course we can't do that. There are still rules that we have to follow, there are still things that will hold us back, and there are still consequences we must face. And now, in addition, there are tremendous responsibilities placed upon us, not the least of which is having to take care of ourselves by ourselves. It seems, then, that being a kid really is the easiest, most enjoyable job in the world.

If being an adult is such a difficult thing, then, it would seem that this should be a sad occasion. A funeral, of sorts, for our childhood. In a way, it is sad, in that we will never be able to experience such lives as we've had ever again. But, seeing so many smiling faces on those people who have gathered here today, it is obvious that this is a happy occasion, for we are now about to experience lives newer, more different, and more rewarding than anything we've ever faced before. These people here today are smiling because we have successfully passed our first test. They are smiling because they hope, and believe, that we will do even better in the years ahead of us.

As I said, though, it will be difficult. Yet that problem is precisely why we're all here right now. All the families, friends, teachers, and others here today in the audience want to show us that they will always be there for us, that they will always be willing to help us out in our new lives. So too is the reason that each of us graduates are here. Look around... look at all the friends you've made that are here today, sitting with you... think back to all the times they've helped you along... think of all the times you've helped them. They're here today because they want to tell you that they'll continue to help, they'll continue to be with you, if not in presence, then in spirit. True friends are those that last a lifetime, and true friends are those that are sitting here today.

You know, as I've been sitting here, thinking about what today means, I've been reminded of a famous man that once said, "If you wanna talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk." It's time now for us to start walking that walk.

I'll see all of you in 2004 at our reunion, and thank you.



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