Valedictory Speech

Thirteen years and it has come to this. We have followed the great thoroughfare of public education, and now it is time for our paths to diverge. It is time for us to blaze our own trails, and it is time for us to wend our way into the wilderness alone.

To some, this voyage has been a walk in the park. To others—not so much. But from now, from the moment our fingers first close around those weighty paper certificates, we will once again find ourselves upon an even footing. Our slates will be cleaned and polished, receptive to the chalk of life. Our arms, outstretched, will be ready to accept the weight of power, the weight of responsibility. Our eyes, glistening with the resolute zeal of—

You’re not listening. You hear, but not really.
You think I’m just another boring orator,
Standing here to say what no one stands for.
But trust me. I’m not one you should ignore,
‘Cause I need to warn you the world’s got more.

I’m talking to the ones who do not listen.
I’m talking to the ones who cannot hear.
I’m not trying to be cynical or critical, intractable, unflappable;
I’m realistic, rational, pragmatic, practical. Maybe, a little controversial.
But that’s the point. You’ve got to know, you’ve got to see.
You’ve got to see to know and you’ve got to know to see.
We tell you that the world’s a snap:
Hard work always equates to hard cash
So why’s it hard for me to ask
Why we seldom see success in those who thrash?

I’m reaching for the ones who do not listen.
I’m reaching for the ones who cannot hear.
It’s luck, I say, just Lady Luck.
Who rolls her dice to tell you that you’re stuck.
Rich and famous, starved and shameless.

People will tell you that there’s a difference between book smarts and street smarts. I say, if school isn’t teaching you enough to survive on the streets, then you haven’t learned enough. But you don’t need me to chastise. You know it. You can feel it, somewhere deep within, that sense that all is not as it should be, that arbitrary tests and arbitrary facts—scaled to a level of unutterable inanity—are not, will not, and cannot be necessary to your lives. So listen:

“In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”

I’m hoping for the ones who do not listen.
I’m hoping for the ones who cannot hear.
All words are meaningless and broken,
Unless you read them like they’re spoken.
Life ain’t easy; that you’ve got to know.
I see the timer, the countdown, so now I’ve got to go.


  1. One must learn to talk before speaking to those who do not listen.

  2. "All words are meaningless and broken, unless you read them like they're spoken." ...As far as I am concerned, you spoke them quite well. Great speech! Enjoy your first year as a member of the elite.