School families remain even after graduation

Published 6:00 pm Friday, June 24, 2011

Today, The DAILY LEADER concludes its publication ofvaledictorian and salutatorian speeches from the Class of 2011.Today’s address is from Kristen Barkman, Mississippi School of theArts salutatorian.

     Good evening. I am Kristen Barkman, literary graduate andsalutatorian, and I would like to be referred to as MadameSalutatorian from this day forward. I wanted to rap my speech withMadame Salutatorian as my rapper name, but my mother said she woulddisown me if I did, so instead I will not drop beats all up in dahouse and will bore you with words that resemble doilies.

     Hopefully all of you know why we’re here today.

     This afternoon, I’m going to tell you how we got here. Itall began on a hot August day. Parents and siblings worried aroundwhile we new juniors tried to claim the bottom bunk or make sure wehad our toothbrushes.

     When I met my first roommate, Karyn Lewis, I didn’t saymuch, so she was scared of me. When I met my other roommate, AnaCastro, she and her mother were speaking Spanish. Quickly. I had aTwilight Zone moment where I thought I forgot how to speak Englishbefore realizing they were speaking a different language. I wasconcerned. Ana was intimidated by Karyn because Karyn could applymakeup in 10 seconds flat without looking in a mirror. And we livedtogether for a year, mashing up our lives and trying not to knockover everyone else’s pomegranate shampoo in the shower.

     That’s what MSA is about: trying to squish three people whowould have never met otherwise into a room and seeing who lastsuntil the end of the school year. Oh, and art. Somehow, between Mr.Owens’ history lectures and trips to Janie’s and an incredibleamount of ruckus every birthday, we survived that junior year andcame back for our senior year. And somehow we survived that year,despite procrastinating on our senior projects or complaining aboutdumb juniors, and here we are, with funny-looking hats on our headsand Harry Potter robes covering up our knobby knees.

     This summer, we’re going to be at home or at work ortraveling or whatever we’ll be doing, but we won’t be togetheranymore. In the coming years, we’ll be figuring out our own lives,trying to pass college algebra or smiling our way through auditionsor mailing our manuscripts to every person that has ever read abook before and might have a friend at a publishing company orbackpacking across Europe, trying to figure out if you smell bad orif it’s that guy sitting next to you on the bus. But no matter howfar away we get, we’ll have our MSA families doing their collegealgebra and auditions, traveling as far as the world stretches, andtrying to one-up everyone else’s stories.

     Oh, and in case some of you don’t know why we’re here andhave been whispering to the people sitting next to you, trying tofigure out what is going on, I wrote a poem to help you out,because that’s what literaries do, in case you’ve been wonderingfor the last two years. Ahem:

     Roses are red,

     Violets are blue,

     Sugar is sweet,

     And we’re graduating.

     Kristen Barkman, of Carriere, is the daughter ofKenneth and Karen Barkman.