(Uncensored portions are in bold and italics. At graduation, I added in a thank you to Mrs. Paquin for letting us do Guitar Club, and also nods to Denise Tanner and Rod Soto; all at the end of my thank-yous. Also, I added in a request for a round of applause for our parents before I thanked my own parents.)
Thank you, Joy. Joy’s been a wonderful friend ever since freshman year. I must have cost her hundreds of dollars of gas when she got her license a year before me, and she graciously gave me rides everywhere. Damn, we're huge nerds.
A good friend of mine has a theory that each one of us has at least one hundred years to live. One hundred years; that’s a long time. And throughout these last four years, whenever I’ve been stressed about homework and projects, or burdened with drama and conflicts, I try to remember: I still have at least eighty years left. That’s a long time too. And whatever is happening now, whether it’s schoolwork or personal issues, that it won’t matter much, in eighty years. Or even in forty years.
But this, Class of 2006, this graduation will matter in forty years and eighty years too. This departure from one stage of our lives to the next, this end of the beginning; this will matter.
So let go of all the little things that won’t matter, my fellow classmates; forgive that nasty argument in spring, and that bad break-up last summer, but value the best friend that stuck up for you. Forget the time all of your books fell out of your backpack in the middle of the hallway in front of the counselor’s suite before second period, and instead remember the time you saw it happen to me, and couldn’t stop laughing until lunch.
Let go of the bumps and bruises of the last four years, and instead revel in the growth that we’ve all experienced. We’ve all gone from insecure, somewhat naïve freshman, to confident, mature seniors. Take pride in that, ’06; that’s the victory we’ve all won together.
Some of you may disagree that I've successfully become confident and mature. Be that as it may, I know I would definitely not be making this speech if not for a lot of wonderful people.
First, I need to thank my friends. I knew none of you when I entered high school, and yet now I feel like I have a second family. I’m continually amazed at your generosity, open-mindedness, and overall kindness. Many of you literally walked up to me and made me be your friend, and I can’t thank you enough for that.
Specifically, the three people who have inescapeably changed my life during high school: Jordan Marbach, who is the most intrinsically nice person I have ever known, and showed me the virtue of sincerity; Ha Nguyen, who played therapist for me so many times, and taught me more about everything than I could have ever learned on my own; and Luis Diez, who, along with being an amazing friend, introduced me to guitar, and thus, to myself.
Next, the members and sponsors of the organizations I’ve been in: Speech & Debate, Math & Science, Guitar Club (which rocked out at its first concert last week), German Club, and Orchestra. It is these clubs, and all the others, that make Hightower known everywhere as a badass competitor and a good sport, from academics to athletics to everything in between. And then my teachers and (certain) administrators, especially the ones whom I’ve known for a few years; all of you have made learning fun for me, and I can only hope to be lucky enough to learn from professors even the slightest bit like you. I can't not mention here Denise Tanner and Rod Soto, two of the most amazing teachers I've ever had the honor of knowing. They've both been so much more than teachers to me: they've been my mentors, my friends; everything.
To save the best for last, I have to thank my family. Those of you who have met them know that they’re wonderfully kind, extremely supportive, and have a wacky sense of humor to boot. Everything that I’ve accomplished, I dedicate to you. My grandmother, who has recently flown in from India to be here; you’ve spoiled me as only a grandmother can, and it’s been wonderful having you staying with us on and off for the past few years.
To my parents; whenever I think about the far future, I’m scared that I won’t be able to be as good a parent as you two were to me. To my father; as clichéd as it sounds, when I finally do grow up, I want to be a lot like you. You, more than anyone else, have kept me grounded and sane throughout this time. To my mother, who homeschooled me in elementary and middle school; I guess you did okay with that, didn’t you; you’ve given me a love for learning that I can’t imagine living without.
Lastly, to my sister, Priti, who is everything from my partner in crime to my best friend to my confidant, and who is graduating from Stanford University in a few weeks. I’m so, so proud of you. You’ve been such an awesome role model and mentor to me; I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t always just a phone call away.
So here’s what I say to you, Class of 2006: let go of the little things, and be proud of this big one; though everything from make-up tests to mercury spills may have stood in your way, you’ve made it here despite all these obstacles against you.
As the great blues guitarist B. B. King once said, “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” This achievement is yours forever, Class of 2006. Thank you, good luck, rock on, and go kick some for me.