MSA allowed class of 2013 to embrace art

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Editor’s Note: Today, The Daily Leader continues publication of area high school valedictorian and salutatorian graduation speeches. The following address is from Mississippi School of the Arts Salutatorian Rachel Whitehorn.

    Good afternoon everyone. I would like to share with you all a childhood experience of mine. I recall a time when I was just a tiny tot when I played on the playground around the rickety old swing sets. I remember that a childish fad at the time was to climb the swing set poles. Only the extremely cool kids could claim to have reached the top.

     So naturally, I crowded around the pole with the other tykes and waited my turn to test my strength. I couldn’t wait to show up all the athletic kids when I reached the top.

It was time for me to make a name for myself. This was it. My shining moment of glory. When it was finally my turn, I strode up to the pole and got into the proper position. I jumped as high as my stumpy little legs would allow and began my ascent.

     And then, only one foot from the ground, I hear the voice of a twerp named Justin say, “Rachel’s too fat to make it to the top.” I tell you, I slid down the pole as slow as molasses. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the day that I decided to become an actor.

     MSA has been an island of misfit toys for many of us. We all stuck out in someway. We were special. At our old school, this normally translated into weirdo, but at MSA, we seem to have all found our proper niches. It has truly been an honor to go to school with these people.

     I mean, most high school students gossip about the juiciest new relationship or what happened at the party last night. But we argue about the merits of Brecht and Meisner acting styles. We get mad over someone going flat in choir. We are not the ordinary teenagers. In fact, I’d go as far to say that we’re angels. Well, within the earshot of Mrs. Perry, we’re angels.

     But seriously, I think we deserve some credit. We survived MSA, which by all rights, is a preparatory school. The jump to college is only half as high for us.

     I must also mention how lovely it was to live with such passionate and talented people. Hearing Chopin in the foyer has become common for us. Where else does that happen?

     I sometimes think we become desensitized to how amazing we all are. So I would like to take a moment to acknowledge how freaking awesome the class of 2013 is.

     But, I sometimes wonder why we all turn to art. We can’t all have chosen this life because our athletic career was dashed by some twerp on the playground.

     And then I think that it is because we understand that life is not worth living without art. Or maybe it’s because the point of art is to reach out and touch someone.

     And take it from me, we at MSA like to touch people. A lot. But no matter the reason, I’m glad we all chose the artistic life. Because I have made some of the strongest friendships I’ve ever had. Living without you guys seems sad and lonely now.

     But even if we never see each other again, I know that everyone will be alL right. We’re going to be OK.

     Even if some of us never act, sing, write, dance, or paint again, I know that we will never live without art. It’s too late for that. We can never go back to the uncultivated lives we once lived. And the world seems like a brighter place with that knowledge.

     I just want to give a shout out to my family who did a bang-up job and whatnot. And I only have one more thing to say…look at me now, Justin!