Whitefield Academy Blog
Graduation 2019 Valedictorian Address
Whitefield Academy was blessed this year with six students achieving the status of valedictorian. Two students from this group were chosen to address their class at graduation. Here, Megan Dykstra shares her valedictorian address:
Good evening friends, parents, faculty and staff. I would like to say thank you to all of you for helping us reach this important time in our school career. Without you this would not have been possible. I would also like to take a moment to point out what many of you already know. My class is a class full of strong personalities and opinions, and unlike our many class discussions, I stand here now with a few minutes of totally uninterrupted time to share my thoughts.
As I began to think about what to say in this speech, I tried to think about our class as a whole. I tried to think of a common theme that we had throughout our thirteen years at this school, and the only thing I could think of was the fact that we were known as the talkative class with a lot of strong personalities.
Our lower school teachers seemed to enjoy our class for the most part, but I think we drove all of them crazy at one point or another because we simply could not learn to stop talking. And let me tell you, our teachers tried many different tactics to try to teach us to shut our mouths. In first grade we were motivated by M&M’s and Skittles. Trust me, one M&M is a big deal to a first grader! In second grade, we quickly learned that fun things would disappear if we kept talking. And yes, many people in my class are still bitter about having our chocolate milk and crafts taken away. In third grade, Mrs. Mercer got a hand workout from using her hole punch so often. Fourth grade we were all terrified at the beginning of the year, but recesses soon started to get taken away because still, our class had not learned how to be quiet. Fifth grade was filled with so much drama that our teacher wasn’t even concerned about how much we talked, and by the time we got to sixth grade I think people realized that we would never be quiet. When we finally reached upper school, we quickly perfected the art of getting a teacher off topic, or derailing their homework plans. After all, the goal of rhetoric was to teach us how to speak persuasively, so we made sure to use that to our advantage.
While teachers consistently tried to quiet our talkative mouths and loud personalities, I think there was always a constant and important thought that many teachers had about our class. While we had moments where we were out of control, with no hope of getting back on topic, and there were moments that teachers thought they would never survive the year, I think every teacher would say they saw the potential for our class to be something great. Through all the drama-filled years, the tears, laughter, and hard work, people saw that we had the potential to be a unified class of strong leaders.
I can tell you that our class has not always gotten along as well as we do now. This class is filled with a lot of personalities, and different talents and abilities, and through the years we have learned to embrace each other, accept our uniqueness, and become a class that others look up to. We have been able to show the teachers what the potential they saw in us actually looks like, and we have been able to set an example to the other classes of what it looks like to lead in a school. Whether it be in the classroom, on the stage, on the court, or, yes Dr. Mac, even on the soccer field. We have learned to be leaders, and we have embraced that role.
While I said that teachers saw potential in our class, and we did our very best not to disappoint them, I think they would all say that they still today see potential in each and every one of us. And as we go from this place into the next chapter of our lives, I want to encourage each of you to never waste that valuable potential. As I was writing this speech, a poem came to mind. It says,
“You are the person who has to decide,
Whether you’ll do it or toss it aside;
You are the person who makes up your mind.
Whether you’ll lead or will linger behind.
Whether you’ll try for the goal that’s afar.
Or just be contented to stay where you are.
Take it or leave it. Here’s something to do!
Just think it over–It’s all up to you!”
As a class, people have always seen potential in us, so I encourage you all to never waste any of the great potential others see in you. I Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” I hope that each and every one of you will always strive to do your best and never settle for anything less. And in everything you do, remember to love others. After all, we got to this place together because “WE LOVE EACH OTHER!”