Co-valedictorian Frederick Keith’s speech from the 2019 San Benito High School commencement ceremony
Before I begin, I’d like to give a quick shout out to Christina Applegate! Administration wanted me to speak here today, so here I am. Thank you for this opportunity and I am almost 100 percent sure you will regret it. But don’t get me wrong. I take my task today very seriously.
When I got the call three weeks ago notifying me that I would be speaking here today, I decided to prepare with the same intensity that many of us have devoted to studying for an AP test. So late last night, I began. After drinking three cans of Monster, snorting tons of Adderall, and spending hours watching frozen TV dinner reviews, I finally opened my browser.
However, with all this time that I had, I was able to reflect on my high school years, both the good and the bad. We have all come a long way since our first day of high school back in 2015, and America has, too. Many of us have forgotten that McDonald’s announced all-day breakfast that year. That was something truly special.
The transition from middle school to high school was an exciting, albeit intimidating process. Many adjustments had to be made. There were new classes, new teachers, new students, and not just one, but three whole new campuses to navigate. Many of us felt lost, uncomfortable even, but with a few growing pains, we were able to overcome those challenges and expectations.
Some of us rely on our friends and families, and others teachers and faculty. Regardless of where we draw our support from, we all have one thing in common: We are San Benito High School graduates. Some people don’t view high school graduation as an accomplishment or something to be proud of. They scrutinize us for believing that we’re done learning. Well to that I say, “Quit being a hater and killing my vibe.”
This is an incredible achievement for all of us, and it is something that we should take pride in. No man has put it into words better than moral philosopher and ethicist 17 Krieg in his absolute banger, “Love for My Haters,” where he eloquently presents a unique stance against his so-called “haters.”
But I digress. This is not a time for publicizing mediocre Soundcloud rappers. No offense. No, I’m here today because believe it or not, I actually do have something real to tell you. We are all embarking on a new phase in our lives, and knowing if we’re up for it is scary. As our high school years are finally coming to a close, and college draws near, we are likely to experience a range of emotions:
Exhaustion. It’s been a long year, hasn’t it? From college admissions and standardized testing to extracurriculars and class events, none of us ever really had a chance to catch our breath.
Regrets. From classes we never got to take, to people we wish we became friends with sooner, there will always be things we wish we did differently.
Joy. From submitting that last final to getting the girl to say “Yes,” our hearts will feel full and liberated.
Nostalgia. These four years sure did fly by didn’t they? As much as we’re looking forward to a new chapter, part of us probably wishes we could start over from the beginning.
Anxiety. Once the end is finally here, that means whole new beginnings and that’s terrifying. Moving in to a new city where you don’t know anybody is scary, but there is solace in knowing that every other incoming freshman feels the same way too. Think back on when we started high school. We survived back then and we can survive now.
Despite all of these emotions, the one that we will experience the most is excitement. Imagine all of the new possibilities and wealth of opportunity abundant in the world. All of it is for our taking. But in our quest for fulfillment and self-discovery is adversity, and with adversity comes failure.
However, there is nothing inherently wrong with failure. Making mistakes and disappointing others is a part of success. Failure makes us stronger, helps us grow, and provides answers. As beneficial as it is, the reason it hurts so much is because of our own faults. Being San Benito High School graduates means our greatest liability is our need to succeed. However, we should not fear failure for our mistakes are simply unique ways of getting where we are today. But take this advice with a grain of salt, because although we should not fear failure, we should do our very best to avoid it.
Now whether you fear it or not, disappointment will still come and it will hurt like an S.O.B. But from that disappointment comes self-reinvention. The people we thought we were four years ago are different from who we are now, and the same can be said for the years to come. And it is this perpetual cycle of disappointment and self-reinvention that drives the world with us behind the wheel! No matter how much we change, we will always be Balers! Thank you, Class of 2019!