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Students standing on giants

Editor’s Note: Today, The Daily Leader continues publication of area high school valedictorian and salutatorian graduation speeches. The following address is from Enterprise Attendance Center Valedictorian Caroleah Brister.

On this day of celebration, it is an honor for me to stand here and deliver the valedictory speech.

First, I would like to thank Mr. Eubanks for his leadership, caring and concern, not only for our school’s achievements but for the achievements of each and every student who enters our hallways each day. You have encouraged us to do our best and YES to believe it, expect it and achieve it.

As we leave here tonight, all of us will always keep that slogan in our hearts and minds as we go our separate ways. We will take a part of you with us but even better we will leave behind a part of us with you.

Next, I would like to thank our board member, Mrs. Kay Coon, for her love and support. You have always wanted the best for Enterprise, and you continue to stand up and fight for us but most of all you love this school and have for a very long time. You unselfishly give your time and always have the student’s best interest in mind.

Parents, you have done your job! Just look at us as we sit before you in our caps and gowns. Aren’t you proud? Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” We love you and ask for your continued support in our future endeavors.

It has been said that we stand on the shoulders of giants. This is so very true! We appreciate all of the giants in our lives, whose love, trust and guidance have helped us get here today.

So, to you our teachers, you are our giants. Your instruction has guided us intellectually throughout our entire school life. You have helped to mold, shape and groom us and you have given us solid foundations.

From kindergarten to this very moment you have taught us how to live, to be kind, to be friends, and do the right thing. You also taught us to laugh, learn, love and to have forgiveness for others. You pushed us and encouraged us but still allowed us to develop individually.

We can all say that at some point one of you whipped us into shape. You gave us your infinite wisdom not only in subject matter but with life lessons, and apparently we have passed both tests.

Mrs. McKone, you changed our names, Mrs. White you Germexed us daily and, (Jannan, I still don’t know where Mrs. Leggett left her keys ???) but each and every one of you worked us, expected us to do our best and crammed every ounce of knowledge that you could into our brains.

You prepared us for the state test and, yes, Mrs. Knight your hair changed with the seasons, and I do remember some Spanish, Mrs. Eubanks: “La Goma en la basu” (put your gum in the trash). These gentle giants were dedicated and came to us every day for many years and have made a significant mark on our lives.

Thank you for opening our minds, challenging us and sending us out prepared to achieve our dreams.

The main group of people I would like to address today are my friends, the graduates. 1 Corinthians 13:11 says “When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

Now is that time when we will begin to take on adult roles. Some of us will head to college, or to the military. Others will go straight to the workforce, and some will get married and start families. But we all will definitely head down different paths for this is the cycle of life.

Even though we are sad about leaving the life that we have always known and leaving our childhood behind, we are very excited about our future. I challenge you to embark on new adventures and take the harder path, not because you have a debt to those who helped us get here but because of an obligation to yourself.

Only when you realize that there is something larger than yourself will you ever realize your true potential. Sometimes your road will be the harder path with obstacles along the way but stay true to yourself and your upbringing, and you will succeed.

I challenge you to measure your success in many ways not just monetarily or by the job that you have but in happiness, kindness and love for your fellow man. As we move on, this chapter of our life may be closing but, graduates, get out your pen because it is time to start writing our own chapters and boy will we have tales to tell.

And finally seniors, I’ll carry you with me … always. This is not where we end, but where we will begin. The friendships made, the lessons learned and the memories of our days at Enterprise will go with us as we venture out on our separate journeys.

Finally, the last giant that I would like to thank is our superintendent, my dad, Mr. Terry Brister.

Dad, thank you so much for all that you have done, not only for me to receive the best education but for all of the children in our district. I have sat back and watched you work tirelessly and diligently to make everything that you come into contact with be the very best.

Christian missionary Jim Elliot once said, “God always gives his best to those who leave the choice with him.” That’s why He put you with this district. He made the choice, and it has been a good one. Thank you for working hard to give me and the other students a great school, with excellent teachers in a very safe environment.

As I enter the next phase of my life, I will take with me all of the many values and self-disciplines that you have taught. You have given me such a solid foundation, and I thank you. When I refer to giants YOU will always come to mind. You are my GENTLE GIANT, and I love you.

So to the class of 2013, follow your passion, stay true to yourself, challenge yourself and always remember your roots, for these are the things that make you strong.

May God continue to bless you and watch over you today and always.