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2011 class setting out to make own destiny

Today, The DAILY LEADER continues its publication ofvaledictorian and salutatorian speeches from the Class of 2011.Today’s address is from Haley Allen, Brookhaven High Schoolsalutatorian.

Good evening and welcome to everyone who came to witness amoment that we will never forget. This is the night of commencementfor the Class of 2011, a night that we have longingly anticipatedfor at least 12 years. I want to thank the classmates, friends,families, teachers, and administrators who have joined us for thisspecial occasion.

One of my earliest memories is sitting in my desk in firstgrade. It was 1999 and the teacher had just finished explaining tous the methods of addition. She gave us a challenge: the firststudent to figure out our graduation year would receive a pop tartand eternal glory. This was the day I realized I would graduate in2011 and that was so incredibly far away. Twelve years later, herewe are standing on the brink of adulthood, with that same awestruckwonder of what lies ahead.

From our first days at Mamie Martin, we have been blessed withthe opportunities provided to us by the educators who have laboredtirelessly to help us reach our potential.

At Brookhaven High School, we found ourselves within the freedomof choice. Whatever our passions, be it Latin, cooking, soccer,chemistry, or acting, our alma mater afforded it all. Throughoutthe years, our teachers have displayed enthusiasm for their subjectand compassion for their students. I personally feel that in thefall, I will walk through the door of my first college class,confident that I am prepared for the obstacles that I willinevitably face.

As we leave this town we’ve known for the past 18 years, wetravel with light footsteps.

Everything we now confront is new and exciting, yet ambiguousand daunting, but we have the comfort of knowing that Brookhavenwill always be there to welcome us home. The communal bond wepossess is deeply engrained in us. Only a Brookhavenite couldunderstand the joy of exploring downtown, walking aimlessly downthe railroad tracks, and constantly searching for sources ofadventure. This small Southern town honors traditions that willforever linger within us, from the annual senior float to the OleBrook Festival; we come from a foundation of character and charm.When difficulty finds us, Brookhaven will offer us solace in itsfamiliar streets.

The advantages we have been given have not gone unrecognized. Wehave received the best education from exceptional teachers at nomonetary expense. Our parents and guardians have sacrificedlimitless energy to benefit us. Our administrators have instilledus with pride. Our community has offered us support in the forms ofmoney, time, and effort. Everyone present tonight has had a hand inour success and we thank you whole-heartedly for all that you’vedone.

As we stand on this field, we know that tonight is not justabout obtaining a diploma.

We have gathered here to pay homage not only to the Class of2011, but to everyone that has helped us along the way. We couldn’thave made it here without you. As the ceremony proceeds, I hopethat you feel pride for what we have accomplished, but also forwhat you have accomplished. We will persist in the achievement ofour future goals, and we will continue to make you proud so thatone day you can look back on your contributions and think, “it wasworth it.” As we go off to become lawyers, doctors, engineers, orartists, know that we will never forget what you have done for usthroughout the years and your presence tonight demonstrates yourdedication to our success. On the behalf of my entire class I wouldlike to finally say “thank you.”

As a little girl in my first grade desk, I never would haveimagined how confident I would feel in this very instant. The boysand girls that were sitting in that very classroom with me havegrown into the beautiful men and women sitting on this field.Together, we gradually became young adults, ready to defeat anyimpediment in our path to finding our place in this world andtogether we will become a generation that Brookhaven can proudlyclaim as their own. Thank you.

Haley Allen is the daughter of Bart and SharonAllen.