2017 Valedictorian and Salutatorian Commencement Speeches

Emily Martin

Valedictorian

So… Chipotle? I know, too soon. Anyway, I wanted to express how honored I am to be graduating with this class. I know that everyone here is incredibly talented and ready to move on to the next chapter of his or her life. And we’ve been through a lot together, whether it include snapchat, sewer leaks, dances, or those days at Duffy’s. But while I’d like to reflect on our high school years, I know that I would not be able to include all the memories that mean the most to each person. So instead, I would like to shed light on something that we can all relate to—the future.

Now I know that I’m not perfect, and that I haven’t been around any longer than you guys, but I would like to share some of my own advice that I learned as a student at Walpole High as we all move on to a new stage of our lives. And to do so, I will use help from one of my favorite people of all time—Forrest Gump.

Now you all know the first: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” None of us know what the future holds, what we’re going to be, or who we’re going to see. We may see each other in passing on the street, or even on the big screens in Hollywood. But wherever we end up, I encourage you to question yourself as you get there: Are you happy? Is this what you want? And if the answer isn’t yes, make a change. We don’t know what life is going to give us, but we do have the ability to make our own choices and steer our own paths in whatever direction we choose, towards whatever passion calls our name. Just remember to always go after your passion and what you want—not what anyone else wants. This is your life, and you get to call the shots.

Now for the second one: “Stupid is as stupid does.” Now give me a second to explain this one—it sounds bad, I know. But the truth is, we are young adults, and we don’t know a lot about the world yet. So don’t be discouraged if you make a stupid mistake. We are going to make plenty, I assure you. We need to make sure we take these mistakes in stride and learn from them, not let them set us back. And I know that we will be there for each other when we do make these mistakes, ready to help each other up and send us on our way.

Okay, I’m done with the Forrest Gump quotes for now, but I still have a few more thoughts that I would like to share before we receive our diplomas and toss our caps in the air.

One important thing I learned in high school, probably the most important, is to be kind. I know you’ve heard it before. But in the world we live in today, we are surrounded by and witness a superfluity of hatred everyday. It is essential that we do our part in this world, wherever we may end up, to promote kindness. It is what brings people together and helps us accomplish new and amazing things. Many of us saw this in our dear classmate, Tommy Quinn, who would have been graduating with us today. Although I did not know Tommy very well, I could tell that his kindness was infectious, and something that all of us should aspire to look up to. Thank you Tommy for showing how kindness is what helps us not only make incredible friends, but also make a difference in someone’s life.

Another thing I’d like to shed light on is how although we have our whole lives ahead of us, we in fact have very little time. If high school went by this fast, just imagine how quickly our lives will pass us by. Like I mentioned before, I urge all of you to go after whatever dreams or passions that you have, because we cannot waste time in life. Again, I know it’s a cliche, but it’s true. Many of us this year witnessed a true miracle of how Anthony Conti fought for not only his life, but his passion in the time that he had left. This is someone who, while battling cancer, found a way to bring his talents to life and become an accomplished filmmaker. He showed us how important it is to accomplish our dreams before it is too late, and to never take our lives for granted.

And it is for this reason that I leave you with this—a quote from the longtime music teacher at Walpole High School, Mr. Falker. In one of his last notes to his students before his retirement, he wrote the following: “I hope you all eventually find true personal happiness. Nothing else really matters.” And he was right. And I wish you all the same.

So class of 2017, follow your dreams and find happiness. I look forward to seeing all of you later in life, whether you’re on the big screen, running a multi-million dollar company, working in the operating room to save someone’s life, or fighting for our freedom to live our lives the way we choose. I know that we have great things to offer the world, and with passion driving us every step of the way, I know that our generation will leave its mark on the world.

Thank you.

 

Emily Hurwitz

Salutatorian

Class of 2017, we’ve finally made it. We’ve pushed through four years of high school, and while it hasn’t always been fun, we’ve had some incredible times. We’ve all worked tirelessly, and today is the day we’ve all been waiting for: National Cheese Day 2017. That’s right, today is National Cheese Day. And if you know me, you know that I hate cheese. But this speech isn’t about me, how much I hate cheese, or my accomplishments. Today on graduation day, this is really not my speech, but our speech. It’s like in Mean Girls when Cady Heron breaks her crown into pieces: this is our time, this is our graduation, this is our celebration.

Most of us grew up in the Walpole Public School system, starting at either Fisher, Elm, OPR, or Boyden. Not that I’m biased or anything, but Fisher was definitely the best. And although a lot of our social circles have changed, when we went back to our elementary schools for the senior walk, I realized that virtually all of the Fisher friend groups have stayed the same. I think that it’s important that we celebrate our friendships today because in a few short months, most of us are going in different directions. Some of us are going to college, some of us the military, and some of us the workforce. But no matter how much you love or hate Walpole, Walpole will always be home. Yes, high school definitely felt like prison at times, but the whole experience of high school was more than sitting in a third-floor un-airconditioned history wing classroom trying to pay attention to a lecture but secretly making plans to run to Dunks right after school. No, high school was all about those spontaneous moments where you roll up to your friends’ houses and say “get in loser, we’re going shopping,” or for that matter, to Rico’s for a BJ wrap. Or in pep band when spending the fall playing at football games led us to determine that the 8 measure arrangement of “Freeze Frame” by the J. Geils Band should truly be our national anthem. It’s when you see someone new in the hallway and say “she doesn’t even go here!” … and then learn she’s been your neighbor for years, so you figure you should probably get to know each other. High school, stress and grades aside, was our time to finish the chapter of our youth by filling it with memories.

Although our expectations that high school would be something like High School Musical or Taylor Swift’s “15” quickly faded, a lot has happened in our four years at Walpole High. Freshman year, the football team played what was quite possibly the longest football game ever against Natick, going into double overtime. Although we lost, I think it was one of the best games I’ve ever watched, behind the Patriots coming back from 28-3, of course. Sophomore year, the Fire Within social entrepreneurship club won, as a first-year group, both the state and national business plan competitions. Junior year, well, junior year was a blur for all of us between SATs, ACTs, and college visits. And finally, a lot happened this year. There were many “firsts:” band, chorus, and orchestra all won medals at the MICCA festival and the boys’ hockey team had an incredible run in the Super 8.

If I’m supposed to offer you advice in this speech, I only have a few words: recognize each other’s’ strengths. No good will ever come out of putting each other down. Sophomore year, I started the Walpole Compliments Twitter account. Although I mainly just moderated and relayed messages, it was motivating to see how people of different social circles encourage and praise their peers. While in high school, many students consider it most important to be smart and value getting near-perfect grades. Yes, academic intelligence is an important quality, but if we were all smart and nothing else, we’d just be boring. Some of you are amazing at art. Some are incredible athletes. Others have an innate sense of music. Many possess strong leadership and interpersonal skills. As we start our adult lives, I encourage you to not only find your expertise, but remind your friends and classmates that their experiences and strengths are valid and important. Like Mike Smith told our class last year, “Dude, be nice.”

Class of 2017, it’s been real. From gel pens to silly bands to questionable middle school fashion choices to fidget spinners, we’ve shared a lot. But we have so much to share with the world, and our time is now. I leave you with one last Mean Girls quote: “The limit does not exist.” This quote refers to calc, a subject I admittedly never took. And going against Mrs. Hackett’s advice to never extrapolate in statistics, I’d like to extrapolate this quote to the rest of our lives. Our limit, WHS, does not exist. “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

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