Zoe Sims gives her speech during the Hawaii Preparatory commencement ceremony. (PHOTO BY BOB FEWELL COURTESY OF HPA|SPECIAL TO NHN)
The three valedictorians from Kohala High School pose for a photo. (PHOTO COURTESY OF KHS FOR NHN)
Amanda Agdeppa gives her valedictorian speech during the Honokaa commencement. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON FOR NHN)
From left, Jovi Valencia, Yvette Nitura and Amanda Agdeppa applaud during their graduation ceremony at Honokaa High School. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON FOR NHN)
Paul Gregg at the Parker School graduation. (PHOTO COURTESY OF PARKER FOR NHN)
North Hawaii News congratulates the 2013 graduates from Honokaa High School, Kohala High School, Kanu O Ka Aina, Parker School and Hawaii Preparatory Academy. Below are excerpts from the valedictorian speeches given during graduation.
Kohala High School
On behalf of my fellow graduates, I would like to thank our teachers for their words of encouragement and for supporting us through this wonderful journey. Words cannot explain how thankful we are to have such awesome teachers like you.
This is not the end but the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. May we continue to reach our goals in life and never stop dreaming, learning, and striving to make our community a better place.
We now go to our own chosen paths and I hope each one of us chooses the best path that brings our heart contentment and happiness.
Congratulations Class of 2013!
We did it!
Kohala High School
May 16, 2013, 2:15 p.m. When we walked off campus, we became alumni of Kohala High School.
Wellesley High School English teacher, David McCullough, shared the following facts as empirical evidence:
“Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That’s at least 37,000 valedictorians … 37,000 class presidents … and 340,000 athletes …
Even if you are one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you.”
The point that he was making was that nobody is special just because. The real achievements are earned through hard work.
A fulfilling life, a relevant life, a meaningful life is an achievement, not a gift. To my classmates, be worthy of the advantages afforded to you …
Work hard …
Kohala High School
If I had to give one piece of advice to my fellow classmates, it would be to never let fear get in the way from showing the world the real you. Fear is this imaginary entity that is inside us all. You need to let that fear go and just showcase the world the real you. Don’t let what others think or say stop you from being yourself. You have to feel happy because you have to live with yourself for the rest of your life. No one else can live your life for you. So why not take life by the horns and make life the way you want it to be? You make your own destiny. Be yourself because everyone else is taken. Embrace the real you.
As my speech comes to an end, I would like to end with a quote from a famous song. This song, “Hero” by Mariah Carey, tells us that we don’t have to be afraid of who we are and that the strength we need to go on has always been inside us all. “So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong, and you’ll finally see the truth, that the hero lies in you.”
We have grown immensely over our many years at Parker. Our days reading “Grasshopper on the Road” melded into time with Shakespeare and Pynchon. We’ve traded our minor appearances in plays, our places as bench warmers in sports, our novice roles in club meetings for the responsibility of leadership.
Yet our evolution from ruddy-faced freshmen to mature—or at least pretty mature—high school graduates did not occur overnight, despite what our minds may trick us into thinking. So, as I sat down to write this speech, I spent some time reflecting upon the transformational forces at work during our time in high school. I considered the people who influenced our path—friends, family, teachers.
All of you have comforted, nurtured, enlightened, and inspired us. Thank you. You have given us so many gifts; your wisdom and encouragement will continue to shape us long after we move on from high school.
But we have also been given an incredibly unique gift, something that stems from the culture and values of our school—we have been introduced to the value and power of creativity.
During our time at Parker, this ability to think imaginatively has taken firm root. It has changed us. And I believe this skill will endure into our college years, our careers, and beyond.
Class of 2013, I am going to repeat something to you that many of the adults in this room have either drilled into your heads already or are too afraid to speak aloud: from the moment you step off of this stage, you are doomed to fail at something. I promise you that life will not go according to plan from here on out. Not a very encouraging promise, is it?
Life isn’t fair, and you will fail, bye now and thanks for listening!
But failure can be a beautiful thing. For it is our failure to become what we perceive to be ideal that sets us apart and allows us to fly.
So we must decide to be unafraid of failure. We will all fail to become our heroes, but in the process we will only discover ourselves.
My classmates, it is time to fly and be free.
It is time to move on from our little town in paradise to bigger and better and scarier things; don’t take yourselves too seriously, don’t eat the yellow snow, and you will change the world.
That’s all it takes.
Your life is about to begin, so start now and never stop.
Hawaii Preparatory Academy
On the last day of cross-country practice before the state championship last fall, Coach Conley stopped by the track to wish us all well. He is a retired HPA coach from years ago, who trained the girls’ team when they won the state championship back in the ‘80’s. He had brought a small bottle of bright red nail polish, and asked us to hold out our hands while he painted a line of red paint down the center of our thumbnails. It was a long red line, he said, that symbolized the train of red-clad HPA runners both before us and behind us – both our current teammates, there with us in the race, and the legions of runners in red from throughout HPA’s history. They were all there behind us, he said, a long red line of determined, strong-legged women. When we felt like we could not take another stride, we could look down at our thumbs, and let the team’s spirit push us onwards.
Throughout our lives at this school – on the cross-country course, but also on the soccer field, in the swimming pool, in class or chapel or GPAC or the art building – the HPA community has been there, behind us and before us, a long, red, line of love, support, and encouragement. Red - the color of passion, the color of love, the color of this school.
It’s a long red line of coaches, of mentors and administrators and advisors. It’s a long red line of aunties, uncles, and grandparents; of brothers and sisters and cousins (and friends).
When we leave, we, ourselves, become the long red line.
Because this ohana will never leave us, and we will never really leave it. So when we walk out this door, today, we can do it with exuberance and we can know that there is no need to look back. The long red line stretches ahead of us, leading us on, and behind us, following us out that door and into the world.
That is what makes this school a place like no other. And it is what makes us and keeps us the Class of 2013, always.
Honokaa High School
To the class of 2013
Well what can I say?
The odds were against you from the very start,
But you made it anyway.
You survived what seemed to be
The toughest there was to offer.
So when it came to March 13,
Senior project wasn’t a bother.
You’ve lived through the end of the world
At least five times since birth.
Plus three tsunamis and a four-hour lock down,
I’m surprised we’re still on this Earth.
Yet you’ve managed to win
State championships and of course pass
The senior project, but more importantly
Mr. Danny Whetstone’s class.
And though we have lost
Some precious friends along the way,
They’re still with us at the end
Of this remarkable journey today.
As you turn the page
To the next chapter of your life,
Take a moment to say thank you
To those who’ve stood by your side.
Your teachers and your mentors,
Your family and your friends,
They’ve all worked just as hard
To get that cap on your head.
Now as you continue your journey,
Always put forth your best.
Aspire to greatness you could only dream of,
And never settle for less.
Your successes and your failures
Will not define who you are,
But rather measure your strength
To persevere and to charge.
Class of 2013, this is the end so take care.
Just remember, you’re a dragon.
You breathe fire, not air.
Honokaa High School
“To the class of 2013: I am trying my very hardest to grow as a person, you know we never stop learning and we never stop growing and I think that, that is something that is somewhat intimidating and refreshing. You know, we’re never gonna be a perfect version of ourselves — it’s just not gonna happen — but I believe that the pursuit of that perfection is more important than the perfection itself. Life is definitely a process that’s never gonna end and you’re gonna constantly try to do your best and — wow, it just got super serious. — (lol) We’re Dragons, we breathe fire not air so just do your best in the world and my name is Jovi Valencia and I approve this message!”
Honokaa High School
What is today but yesterday’s tomorrow? Today, is the day we’ve long awaited for. The past four years in high school have come down to this moment.
Today we proudly wear our caps and gowns, waiting patiently for our names to be called forth, and finally have those diplomas within our grasps.
Today is our day. It is our time to shine and be rewarded upon all the accomplishments we’ve tackled and completed throughout our high school career. Today we graduate!
To my fellow classmates, there is a universal truth we all have to face, whether we want to or not. Everything eventually ends. As much as I look forward to this day, I’ve always disliked endings. Last day of summer, the final chapter of a great book, parting ways with close friends. But endings are inevitable. Leaves fall, you close the book, you say goodbye. Today is one of those days for us, today we say goodbye to everything that was familiar, everything that was comfortable. We are simply moving on. But just because we are leaving, doesn’t mean we’re entitled to forget the memories made in the past four years here. Some of these memories are so much a part of us that they’ll be with us no matter what. They are our solid ground, our north star and the vivid images in our heads that will be with us, always.
Our high school days are finally coming to its closure, but of course this is definitely not the end. A whole new journey awaits all of us.
Class of 2013, we are sitting amongst our future doctors, engineers, professional athletes, and Walmart executives.
From now on follow your passion and stay true to yourself. Never follow anyone’s path but your own, unless you’re lost in the woods and you see a path, then by all means you should follow that.