Building on memories for the future

Published 11:53am Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Editor’s Note: Today, The Daily Leader continues publication of area high school valedictorian and salutatorian graduation speeches. The following address is from Brookhaven Academy Valedictorian Garrett Smith. 

If someone were to tell me in the sixth grade, “Garrett, you are going to have to give a speech at your graduation in six years,” I would have called them insane. If they would have told me that it was because I would be Valedictorian, then I would have really questioned their sanity. Tonight, we stand here as the class of 2014.

There is no way in the world that we could be standing here without some help along the way. The faculty and staff here at Brookhaven Academy have taught us skills that were not only for class but skills that would last a life time.

Garrett Smith
Garrett Smith

Mrs. Culbertson taught us time management skills as well as that cookies help one to think. Mrs. Allen taught us that school and laughter should coincide. Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Wallace taught us that when the work gets hard, then we should work harder.

Dr. Watson and Mrs. Hood taught us to think for ourselves, be innovative, and that a task can always be made more difficult. Mrs. Joanne even taught us that a haircut or a deep tissue massage could make the world’s problems disappear.

While the teachers challenged us in the classroom, the coaches pushed us to our limits on the fields. I can speak for the entire class when I say that at least one of the coaches here has invested in us. These teachers and coaches have spent time during and away from school to shape us into the great students and athletes that we are today.

Parents, where do I even begin? You guys did everything for us. You fed us, put clothes on our backs, and disciplined us. When you disciplined, you said, “I did it because I love you,” and on other occasions, you said, “You’ll understand when you get older.” Who knew that you would be right.

Experience has been the best teacher, and since we are only 18, there is so much more to be experienced. We have grown up imitating you. The girls went in their mom’s closet to play dress up while the boys followed their dad everywhere.

People in the community know us and see miniature versions of you in us everyday. You carried us to ball games, threw us parties, and bought us what we wanted for Christmas. One great thing that you did, was the decision to send us to Brookhaven Academy. So again, parents, faculty, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to say “Thank you.”

I can remember coming here in the sixth grade from the Brookhaven public school I can also remember the time that some people locked Mrs. Watts out of the classroom and blamed John Merritt for it.

I remember when we started seventh grade, and I had a full arm cast and a big foam box where I had to keep my arm above my head for the first month. Being a seventh grader, I had a bottom locker. My books were stuck in my locker, and I was slightly late to class. Coach Gray had no sympathy and sent me to the office for being 30 seconds late.

I remember when Will was in a wheelchair, and Brenda Beehall went pushing Will down the hallway as fast as possible screaming, “Move out the way!”

How about the time when Coach Ball backed into Newt’s car with the bus. Or that time when we did a senior prank, and no one saw it except a select group of juniors who decided that it would be “cool” to clean it up. We are so lucky to have Ashton with us after her incident with the tire falling from the roof and hitting her in the face. Oh, and Juniors, remember, Big Brother is watching you.

It’s hard to believe that all of this is in the past. We have lost many classmates along the way, and now we are a class of 30, but I would not trade these 30 individuals for any others.

Over the past few years, we have truly bonded as a class. We used to just be friends because we had to go to school together. Over the past few weeks, we have spent almost every day together because we realized that our time together is coming to an end. We have become more than friends; we have become a family. We have nerds, athletes, artists, comedians, and picked up a lovable brother named Steven along the way.

We have been through hard times, fun times, and sad times. One of the most depressing parts about graduation is that this is the last time that we will all be in the same room together ever again.

Since this might be the last time that we ever speak, I want to leave you with some words of encouragement. It is time to set goals for your future. Before you can do that, however, you need a vision. A dream.

Over the next few years you may end up at a college or trade school. You may begin working full-time or even start a family. Many of you have your plans laid out, but be prepared for it to change.

1 Timothy 4:12 says “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” No matter what your dream is for the future, you can get there with the dedication, determination, and focus that you have learned while here at Brookhaven Academy.

Classmates, it has been an honor and a pleasure to experience these wonderful years of high school with you. I don’t care what you say, you will miss some aspect of high school, and I know I will. One small request that I ask, take risks and don’t be afraid of failure. I am going to miss all of you and always remember, we are the Brookhaven Academy class of 2014.

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