Congratulations to the Rhinebeck Class of 2007!

Rhinebeck High School
Class of 2007 Commencement
Friday, June 22, 2007; 6:00 pm
Rhinebeck High School Front Lawn

 Read what the Po/Jo had to say!

Saturday, June 23, 2007
Rhinebeck: Keep goals in perspective, grads told
100 mark end of high school careers

Rhinebeck High School Valedictorian speech

Let me tell you, being valedictorian is not all it’s cracked up to be. For one, you have to write a speech. And when your mom has been asking you every single day for the past month, “When are you going to write your speech?” it can seem more like a curse than a blessing. I had no idea what I was going to say. What are you supposed to say in a valedictorian speech? I Googled “valedictorian speeches” to look for ideas, and not only did I find a site where you could buy a speech for only $9.95, but half of the results were about girls who said if you don’t believe in Jesus you’re going to hell and started all kinds of controversy. Don’t worry, I promise there will be no proselytizing in this speech.
So about two months ago I was beginning to hate everyone. I was through with high school; I could not wait until the day I could finally get out of this place. But now that day is finally here, and I’m actually kind of sad about it. As much as I’m sick of high school, it’s big part of our lives that we are leaving behind. I will never forget the friends I’ve made here, some that I’ve known since second grade and many that I may never see again.That’s sad, you guys. And speaking of friends we will never forget, I’m sure we will always remember Maggie O’Malley. It is still shocking to me how such a young, vibrant girl can be lost so quickly. I came across her Facebook the other day and it made me think about how her presence has never really left us. Her death shows us how fragile life really is; how it can be gone in an instant without warning.Take this as a lesson to live life to the fullest, take each day as if it were our last, and strive to make a difference. I don’t know who actually did anything with the CPR kits we received, but they were given to us for a reason. Take the time to learn it. You never know whose life you could save, whether it is a complete stranger, a family member, or a classmate.

We are finally leaving Rhinebeck High School, and I know many of you probably cannot stand this town anymore. I will admit, it’s probably one of the less exciting towns. But think about how fortunate we are. At least we don’t have to use a hole in a soccer field like Da Chen. I know many of you won’t admit it, but we’ve been given an amazing public education here at RHS.

Think of the kids in third world countries who don’t have the opportunity of a public education at all. As much as I hated the lack of things to do in this town, I’m glad I was given an education here. I’m glad I didn’t have to go to a school where they lie about evolution and birth control. We may not have the resources of a bigger high school, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have excellent teachers, a great curriculum, and a supportive community.

And we should make something of the education we’ve been given. Because we are the fortunate ones, we should help those less fortunate than us. Hunger and poverty still prevail in the world. AIDS still runs rampant in Africa. Girls are still being circumcised in Muslim and African countries. Even though they may seem far away, we should still be concerned with these problems.

It is our generation’s job to stop them. Go to a third world country and see what it’s like. Lend a hand to those less fortunate. Even a small contribution is a big one if we all join in. Just because my grades make me number one academically, that doesn’t make me any better a person than number 2, number 3, or number 100. We all have the potential to do something meaningful in this world.

I have to be cliché for a moment, but we are the future, the leaders of tomorrow. All of the bad things that are going on in the world today, it’s going to be our responsibility to fix them. We can’t leave it to anybody else. No matter what the Republicans try to tell you, global warming is a real problem.

Glaciers are melting faster than scientists could have ever predicted. If you think you can continue to drive giant SUV’s to work or school every day and not hurt the environment, you’re dead wrong. Global warming can still be fixed if we cut our carbon emissions now. But another 50 years wasting oil like we do, and we will reach the point of no return. We are the ones that have to discover a cleaner form of energy. The last generation obviously hasn’t done much to cut down fossil fuels, so the responsibility falls on us. Just because there’s another Earth 25 light years away, that doesn’t mean we can trash this one.

My dad said an interesting analogy about our education the other day. He told me that it was as if we had spent twelve years building a sailboat, and now it’s time to send it out to sea. We built this sailboat with the help of our parents and teachers, and now it’s time for us to captain the boat on our own.

We may hit storms, we may hit fair winds, and some of us may never launch the sailboat at all. Some of us may have a plotted course, and others may just see where the winds take them. But now that the boat has been built, we can go out into the world and navigate to wherever we want. It may be exciting, it may be intimidating. But a new adventure begins for us. Bon voyage!