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Students urged to carry class spirit forward

I got the news that I was this year’s valedictorian last Fridayafter senior awards day. Along with the announcement, I received acopy of last year’s valedictorian’s speech. If you know MaggieCupit at all, you know that she is very intelligent and can writelike a professional. Even with all of the temptation to use herspeech and change the words until it accommodated my life, Idecided it would be best to start anew and write my own. I wantedto try to capture the spirit of our class in words, which proved tobe a very simple task. Class of 2010, this is what we are.

We are a very unique class. This is true for many reasons.During my freshman year, Mrs. Teri Hall told my mom that she hadnever before seen a class in which the football players werefriends with the band nerds who were friends with the cheerleaders,and so on. In fact, I probably know the names of most of the peoplesitting behind me, if not more about them. During our sophomoreyear, Aaron Davey and I decided to conduct an experiment and sit ata different lunch table every day. One day we would sit with thepopular seniors, and the next day we would sit with the outcastfreshmen. This went on for a few weeks, and everyone at every tablewas very accepting. They were so accepting that, I hate to say, itbecame boring. I even dare to say that the girls’ basketball teameven flirted with me on an everyday basis. We are a class who iswilling to accept everyone.

We are a very smart class. At one point during this previousyear, the top 25 students had a 98 average or above, which says alot about this particular group of students. At the same point intime, averages had to be viewed from the seventh decimal point tobe able to determine the top three students. It seems crazy, butstudents have actually been complaining about scheduling changesthat prevented them from being able to take even more AP classes.This shows that we are also a class that is not afraid of achallenge.

We are, for the most part, a very loving class. Almosteverywhere you look, you see someone giving a hug whether it is toshow affection, to comfort someone who is dealing with difficulttimes, or simply to say hello to a friend. I can barely walk downthe hall these days without being called “Boo.” Most of the time,it’s by someone other than my own girlfriend, who gave me thenickname in the first place.

We are a fun class. I’ve seen many people over these past fouryears try to do things to make high school more fun for everyone.Such events include students painting their bodies for footballgames, and last year’s senior class even had a bonfire to burn allof their many pages of notes from Mrs. Brewer’s class. I wanted tojoin in on some of this ‘fun” myself by suggesting that instead oftossing our hats into the air at the end of this ceremony, weshould blast music over the football field speakers and dance likemaniacs. We could even turn on the sprinklers to add another levelof fun. Unfortunately, someone beat me to that one.

By listing all of these attributes which I believe all defineour class, I am not only reminding all of the students behind me ofour good memories, but I am challenging every one of us to carrythese traits with us wherever we go from here. Some people will begoing to college; others will be going directly into the workforce. But wherever we go, these traits will help us to besuccessful. I’ve always heard that our high school years would besome of the most enjoyable years of our lives. I can confidentlysay that it would have been hard not to enjoy these years with thegroup of students that I have been blessed to share them with. Manystrong bonds have been made, but many will be broken once we leavefrom this school. I pray that, no matter where any of my fellowstudents go, we will remember the place where we came from andalways remember the life lessons learned here at Brookhaven HighSchool. By doing this, we can take what “we were” at BHS and makeit what “we will be” throughout the rest of our lives.

Finally, I would like to thank Mrs. Susan Chapman, Dr. JaySmith, and all of the faculty and staff of Brookhaven High Schoolfor making our years at BHS what they were. I also think that it isvery important to thank my family, along with the families of eachstudent graduating today. Without the love and support of thesefamilies, we would not have been able to accomplish the greatthings that we have accomplished throughout our lives. But mostimportantly, I want to congratulate Brookhaven High School’s Classof 2010 for sticking it out and graduating today. Now it is time togo out into the world and share the spirit of our class.

Jay Ballard is the son of Keith and Wanda Ballard.