This is the full unedited version of the Bradshaw Mountain High School class of 2017 Valedictorian speech. Take and do with it as you will. Feel free to comment, constructively critique, or ask any questions you please. This is merely my thoughts as a member of an upcoming generation. Thank you.
First, I’d like to thank my family, my mom Jennifer and dad Frank, for always supporting my decisions and loving me regardless of the ones I made. I’d like to thank my brother, who was a salutatorian here 4 years ago, for showing me that I can be the better child. I want to thank my neighbor and mentor Jane for telling me stories that will resonate with me forever. And last, I’d like to thank all my friends who, despite my puns and terrible jokes, remained my friends.
I’d like to start off with a song by Johnny Mercer. Don’t worry, I won’t sing and most of my friends know why.
“You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”
Let’s figure out what this means.
Negativity is the opposite of positivity but is that good? Is that bad? That depends on your perspective. How has it affected our class? This year, 97% of the senior class is graduating. But what helped us get here?
The positive things that contributed to our 97% graduation rate are numerous. What comes to mind though, is how relaxed we are as a class. For those of us with bags under the eyes, that might seem exaggerated, but I have seen 5 senior classes and trust me, we’re relaxed. We never seemed worried about whether we are going to be successful. As ignorant as it might seem, we have always thought in the back of our minds that everything will eventually work out. And I believe it will. I’m not saying we never worked hard, but we knew some things were not going to determine the rest of our lives. And we have the rest of our lives to determine.
So, what are the positives right now? Do we have anything we can look at right now and say, “Wow, I’m so glad we’re able to experience that.” I’m sure I know what the sarcastic kids are thinking but put that aside for a moment. The opportunities we had are far greater than what most students in America can boast. Our school offers so many classes from welding to culinary. We have been offered so much and because of that, we have so much to show it. For three-plus years now we have hosted a German exchange program. The drama and choir classes produce magnificent performances throughout the year with each and everyone deserving a standing ovation.
What do we choose to make of this? And who is this “Mr. In-Between”? Well, this Mr. In-Between is the one who throws us off track. He can be someone negative in our lives, a bad habit, or even our own mindset. He is the negative. Every now and then he will interrupt our lives and we will have to deal with him. There are a few different ways to go about this but one of the best things to do is to latch on to the affirmative.
Latching on to the affirmative is recognizing and holding on to what is consistent and encouraging in life. In other words, what do we have going for us? Trust me, it’s more than you think. Right now, we know that we are graduating. At the end of the night, you will walk out those doors with a high school diploma. Most of us also have decided where we will end up after tonight as well, whether it be further education, the military, or the workforce. We also have the affirmation of our parents, relatives, and friends. I guarantee that everyone in this stadium is overjoyed they get to see you walk across this stage. Relish these thoughts and moments. Don’t take them for granted, because Mr. In-Between will be back. And when he does you’ll need that solidarity to get you through it. Because as we go out into the world, as cheesy as this sounds, our greatest critiques should only ever be ourselves to aim for a positive future
How do we build on a positive future if we are only starting out though? How can you make the positives work for you? Well, I can’t answer that. You must persist in those questions until you get an answer for each moment you encounter. You can never count on others to do this for you. Demanding more of yourself than anyone else will is the only way you can ever succeed. And you must be persistent with those demands.
So, go out after tonight, aim big, and achieve greatness. Use those positives in life to give you that extra and take care of the negatives before they take care of you. Mr. In-Between is always lurking, but never let him get in your way. And finally, Bradshaw, be an agent of positivity. Giving is just as important as receiving.