The speeches that didn’t make it, Class of 2014: Part IV

Noa Braun, Author

The Paly Voice acquired the following speeches from their authors, with their authors’ consent to publish. The authors wrote the speeches with the intention of delivering them at graduation, but were not selected. Each speech went through an evaluation process on May 19 by a panel of staff members. The views stated in these speeches do not necessarily reflect the views of The Paly Voice, nor those of its staff.

Graduation Speech

by Becca Althoff

At first, I wanted to title my speech, “You win some; you lose some.”

I wasn’t sure if I needed a title or not so I picked a phrase that best described how I see my high school career at a quick glance.

In high school, I have found that it is easy to see individual events as separate “wins” and “losses”, especially among so many students who are driven to succeed.  By the time I had reached my senior year, I accepted that I’d have to face the fact that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

Sometimes you ace a test, sometimes you fail.

Sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you don’t.

Some people get into their dream schools, some people go elsewhere.

Sometimes you feel like a winner, but sometimes, you really just don’t. And that’s okay.

What makes Paly, particularly the class of 2014, different, is that we have established a community that supports.  A community that accepts the times in which we may not succeed and rejoices during the times in which we do.  We have established a community that consists of people who are shamelessly excited to sometimes live vicariously through the successes of their fellow classmates.  We’ve won some, we’ve lost some.  But the “wins” of few are often celebrated by many.  And that has made all the difference.

We are excited to read the latest articles produced by the talented students within the journalism program and are open minded to the events put on by various clubs.

Fans and athletes alike seem to have a feeling of victory in our hearts when the Vikings come home with a win and when Paly Rocks performs on the quad at Friday lunch, the long week of school that preceded seems to fade away and we can nod to ourselves thinking, “yes, I deserve this performance” and “Thank you Paly Rocks.  You win for providing us with this music.”

Our class has won spirit week. We have also lost.  How many times? I guess that might just be something that we keep to ourselves.  But if it weren’t for Audrey and Kate working as hard as they could all week long, each year, I don’t know how we would’ve pulled off what we did.

And while those memories might fade for some of us, the one thing that will never seem to go away is the community we have made here.  It’s cliche and sounds like it came off of a Hallmark card but it’s how I feel.  And I think it’s fantastic that here, on the day of my high school graduation, I don’t need to fake any sort of sincere happiness and pride.  I don’t need to casually say, “You win some; you lose some” to disguise any feeling of regret or indifference.

Because today I am standing next to downright hardworking people.  I am among people who have already started and sold their own companies, people who have brought Paly it’s first TEDx conference, people who produce their own music, people who have started their own clubs, someone who has represented our country at the Olympic games, and someone who has represented our country on the national physics team.  I am standing among people who have plans to travel the world, people who have plans to pursue their passions, people who have plans to continue learning, and people who might not have any plans at all quite yet.  And that’s exciting too.

I haven’t scored a touchdown, I haven’t won an election, I haven’t been in charge of a publication, and I haven’t won any academic awards.  My greatest level of participation in organized activity at Paly was co-leading the spirit dance and being a part of the marching band at football games.

But even so, I have experienced a community that has made me feel supported and I have been genuinely excited to watch my classmates pursue their academic, athletic, artistic, political, and social goals.  Most importantly, I am a part of a class that has made me feel like I can be a part of it all.  Whatever it may be.

I stand here today, looking back on the past four years I’ve spent with these amazing 481 people, knowing now more than ever, that in reality I have won a whole lot and really lost nothing at all.

Thank you, Class of 2014.  And Congratulations.

Click here to find: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII.