Students step into new lives as graduates

Published 8:00 pm Friday, June 29, 2012

Editor’s note: Today, The DAILY LEADER concludes publication of valedictorian and salutatorian speeches from recent graduation ceremonies at local schools. Today’s address is from Mississippi School of the Arts Salutatorian Derek Migues.

     In my old life, education held little value. I wondered how anyone could see the world when they were shrouded in pessimism and could care less. I trudged around with a yoke on my shoulders, never knowing that there existed an escape to that slow and dull rut. I became blind to Mississippi, blind to the counties beyond my borders. I lived in a dark, windowless room.

     But one night, during my sophomore year, my mother and I passed in front of MSA’s bright-lit sign, and my mother told me that it housed junior and senior high school students – a voluntary state boarding school focused solely on arts education. I watched the sun break its rays through the thunderstorms, and I knew the opportunity had finally shown its face. MSA opened the door to a new life.

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     I haven’t been able to come to personal level with everyone; but from dances, scenes, manuscripts, food runs, field trips, mafia games pushing 25 players, cleaning the floors, tornado warnings, and even the awkward hello in the hall, I know every one of you. Once, I even had a four-hour conversation washing laundry, and I guarantee we’ve all had something similar.

     You opened your lives, cultures, and hearts to me. I’m thankful that I was there to listen. These relationships have built us into the characters of a different, yet just as real, world from the one surrounding us. We fit, piece by piece (which becomes hard work when we are such unique pieces), to form a community that no one could shake. We leave this school with, as far as I’ve seen, the greatest legacy, which will live on, and hopefully spur the future classes to make an even larger mark on Mississippi.

     Yes, we’ve come to an end, but we’ve also come to a beginning. Waiting, through those exit doors, are new lives for each of you. Let’s see what you can do with them.

     Take the MSA values and standards that I fell in love with and spread them. I want to say “spread them to the world,” but truly they are needed here in Mississippi. Start with my challenge. 

     Create bonds like those we have created at MSA, and bring this state together. People continue to ride the streets with their blinders on, set on living with that one continuous image of a world they barely even know. Rip the cloth from this state’s eyes as you have from mine, and show the world that we are aware, that we are not blind. That with talent and an amazing education, we became dancers, writers, actors, visual artists and vocalists. I am proud to know that my closest friends are enlightened and ready to open these doors and step into life.

     Derek Migues, of Loyd Star, is the son of Brent Migues and Barbara Olander.