Apologies to avid readers of SOS. I can only beg fogiveness for failure to post the last couple days and pray that this eloquent and verbose essay might serve as penance for my wayward wanderings.
While this post may not be strictly theological, it will certainly qualify as philosophical with spiritual undertones. This past May was the ten year anniversary of my high school graduation. I had asked my family to dig up some writing that I did back then. I suppose I should more correctly describe it as a speech. My grandmother was able to find a copy that had been saved, and I just recently received it in the mail. Although I can definitely see a resemblance in thought, I couldn’t help but notice some points that were a little weak, some theology that was a bit off and it lacked the tactful mixture of humility, confidence and boldness that my seventeen year-old self had not yet learned. So without presuming that I have fully learned those lessons, I want to re-write this from a fresh perspective after gaining ten years of experience and an underwhelming portion of wisdom. The Part 2 of this post will follow, but to keep it a reasonable length, I now present:
The Pawnee High School Class of 2001 Valedictory Address
By Garrett Sloman
When I sat down to write this speech, I just stared at a blank pad of paper. This was a speech I had waited to give for seven years.
You would have thought that over a seven year period I would have thought of tons of things to say, but as a fifth grader my goal to some day be valedictorian seemed a lofty one.
Well, that distant day has come, and I look back wondering where the time went.
I remember four short years ago sitting on this stage for eight grade graduation. Looking back it seems like those years have gone by in fast forward.
But a lot of memories have been made in this short time as well:
-Touch down tootsies and linen on the lawn at home football games.
-Thinking, “Man, that must have hurt!” after watching Ellie spike a volleyball at an opponent.
-Bon Fires both indoor and out.
-Doing every single portfolio project for Mrs. Wood freshmen year and spending countless Monday nights wishing the week would just end.
-Learning to study and do homework for a class the period before.
-Sitting down in Mrs. Rhoads class and being able to write five well developed paragraphs (Brainstorming, Rough Draft and Final Draft double spaced) about absolutely nothing.
-Realizing (due to early bird P.E.) that it is physically possible to wake up at quarter after seven and be in your squad place, or two steps from it, at 7:25.
-And then of course writing Valedictorian Addresses at 3 a.m.
Most of these things we have all experienced as a class, but tonight, this ceremony is the last memory we will all share.
Jessica Sheedy wanted me to ask you all to take a careful look at this class, because it is the last time you will likely see us as a whole.
Look at each face. It is not the same little boy or girl you saw in the video earlier this evening. The faces you see now are those of young men and women who are starting their adult lives right now.
I also have a few thank yous, which may have already been said.
-First, I want to thank Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior for creating me in his image, for blessing me with the intelligence I have and for his sacrifice on the cross.
-I want to thank the school staff for all of their time and effort, and especially Mr. Mings for opening his home to any and all students interested in an informal weekly Bible study.
-My grandparents for all of their encouragement and support.
-My brother for his input and help.
-And most of all my mom and dad for always being there. Your love and guidance is what has made me the self-confident and well-rounded individual I am today. I love you guys.
I also promised Kenna I would mention her in my speech, so Kenna, you’re awesome.
In closing, to my fellow classmates of 2001, I have eight things:
1. I wish you luck in everything you do.
2. Know that there will always be good times and bad, but true friends will be there for both.
3. Remember that like it or not, our parents are right 99% of the time.
4. In the future take responsibility.
5. Don’t make excuses.
6. Make wise decisions, and then act upon them.
7. You don’t have to be the fastest or strongest or smartest.
8. As long as you consistently give your best effort, you will be successful, because as the old saying goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.”