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Graduates ready to travel life’s journey

Editor’s note: The DAILY LEADER is continuing to publishvaledictorian and salutatorian speeches given during recent highschool graduations. Today’s address is from April Steen,co-valedictorian of Wesson Attendance Center.

Members of the board, Principal Greer, faculty, staff, familyand friends:

Thank you for coming tonight to help us celebrate 13 years ofmemories, triumphs and successes.

As a kindergartener, I remember watching the older kids shine.Students chanted for them at pep rallies. Newspapers proclaimedtheir accomplishments. Adults praised their work. To me, theyseemed like celebrities. I could not imagine being so grown-up.

Many years later, I found myself doing the things that had onceseemed so far beyond my reach. My fellow classmates and I had gonefrom being spectators to being active participants. Now we were thestars. We were the ones the people applauded. We excelledthroughout high school and we finally achieved the highest honor:graduation. As we stand before you tonight, we are prepared to takeour places in life. It has taken close to 18 years, but we arefinally ready.

We have come far since our kindergarten days. We have progressedfrom chanting our ABCs and painting with our fingers to writing”Beowulf” essays and solving logarithms. We have grown into youngadults with endless talents and big dreams. We have worked hard toget here, but we never could have succeeded without the support ofour families and teachers.

To our families, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Wemay not say it as often as we should, but we deeply appreciate allyou have done. You have walked beside us every step of the way, andyou have given without restraint to ensure our success. We loveyou.

To our teachers, we would not be here without you. You havesacrificed your time and energy to teach students who were oftenunwilling to learn. You went beyond the requirements of your jobsto help us become our bests. You have been so much more than justeducators; you have been role models, confidants and friends. Wethank you.

And finally, to my fellow classmates. We entered this gym asspectators, but we leave here as active participants in life. Chaseyour dreams, and remember that only you can determine how far youwill go. May God bless you and keep you as you journey down life’sroad. Good luck Class of 2010. In closing, I leave you with thewords of Dr. Seuss, “You’re off to great places. Today is your day!Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way!”

April Steen is the daughter of Betty and Alvin Steen.