VALEDICTORIAN: “I hope you find the ‘sweet spot’ in life”

Annie Wilde, Rockdale High School valedictorian Annie Wilde, Rockdale High School valedictorian Editor’s note: Following is the valedictory address delivered during commencement exercises by Annie Wilde:

Good Evening. Thank you family, friends, teachers, administrators, and staff. Thank you all for being here to share this special occasion.

Each graduate is here tonight in great part because of your love, support, and dedication. Words are not adequate to express our gratitude to you. But from the bottom of our hearts, we say ”thank you.”

I want to say special thanks to the teachers, coaches, counselors, and administrators who took time to listen to us, to truly teach us, and to care about us.

Thank you for dedicating your lives to making our hopes and dreams possible. There’s a saying, “kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

I know we didn’t always make your job easy. You taught us math, English, science, music, history, and athletics. We, in turn, taught you patience. Thank you for challenging us to even want to learn. That is no small accomplishment.

We’re walking away tonight with a high school diploma and a lot of memories.

Do you remember your first day of kindergarten, eating lunch at 10:20 a.m.?

Do you remember getting your clothes pin pulled in the lunch room because you were talking? I do.

Do you remember junior high? How every girl was a cheerleader, and every guy was determined to play every sport? Do you remember your first day of high school? We thought we were cool. The seniors looked so grown up.

I remember being encouraged by Mrs. Grindle to have a fun the traffic. I remember integrating cakes in Mrs. Dean’s class (a.k.a. Dean Dean). And I will always remember you, my classmates.

Thank you for the memories. Thank you for the challenges, the encouragement, and thank you for the laughter.

Graduates, the fact that we are here tonight shows we didn’t quit. I think we have learned along the way, that like basketball coach John Wooden said, we did not let what we could not do interfere with what we could do.

We are probably all familiar with Steven Spielberg’s work. What you may not know about him is that he applied to the film schools at USC and UCLA and was rejected by both.

So he went to Long Beach State. He made a short film called “Amblin.” The right person saw it and referred it to someone at Universal Studios. Mr. Spielberg signed on with Universal, and in 1972, at the age of 25, made his first theatrical effort called “The Sugarland Express.” It failed at the box office.

His next film was a little movie called “Jaws,” and the rest is history. There is a lot to be said for just not quitting. I hope you have a vision for your life that keeps you going, that doesn’t let you quit.

Remember, “where there is no vision, the people parish.” Maybe you don’t know how it will all play out. But like Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” If we don’t start our careers at the top of the ladder, it’s okay. The only job where you can start at the top is digging a hole.

I want to share with you something my grandmother told me when she was here. She taught me one of my earliest and most important lessons. And it was simply “listen.”

Listen to people who have more wisdom than you. Don’t be afraid to admit you are wrong and accept advice. You cannot impart knowledge to others or build on knowledge until you first attain it. Therefore, listen.

I heard a story about a little boy on a beach. The little boy was picking up starfish that had washed up on the beach and was throwing them back into the sea. An older man was watching the little boy, and confronted him. “Why are you throwing those starfish back into the sea? There are thousands of starfish here, you will not make a difference to the entire beach.”

The little boy picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea. He looked at the man and said “it made a difference for that one.” You may not end world hunger, or cure cancer and save millions. But your life and what you do with it may have a great impact on one person’s life. And that is significant.

When we receive our diplomas tonight, I would like to think they are also going to hand each of us an “easy” button. But something tells me that won’t happen.

What is my hope and prayer for the class of 2010? I hope each of us is able to find the sweet spot in life. In tennis, when you hit the sweet spot, the ball makes that perfect sound, and you get that feeling of a perfect hit. It’s like making the football pass that falls right into the receiver’s arm and wins your school $7,500.

It’s when you shoot a three pointer and you know as it leaves your hand it‘s going in. It’s when a musician reaches that note that’s full and beautiful, or when the artist paints the last stroke knowing it’s picture perfect.

I hope you find that sweet spot in life. I hope you have friendships and a marriage that last a lifetime, a purpose that makes you look for ward to Monday mornings, mentors worth following, health and happiness, truth, faith worth clinging to, and always hope.

I would like to first of all, thank God for every ability and opportunity He has given me. He makes everything possible, and He made me who I am. It really is truth that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I would also like to thank my family for being there for me. Their unconditional love and support made me believe I could do anything. Thank you family, for never telling me I couldn’t do it. For believing in every endeavor I undertook.

And most importantly, thank you for your love and prayers. You are the reason I am here today, and I love you.

Lastly, I want to thank my mom. She went to every basketball game, tennis match, and marching band performance, while never forgetting that camera.

She’s the one who woke me up at 4:30 a.m. so I could make the golf bus on time. She has always been my biggest fan. The one who pushed me to be all that I am, because she knew I could do it. If it wasn’t for her determination, insight, and faith in me, I would not be standing here today. So thank you, Mom. For everything.

I close with a saying that maybe you have heard. It speaks to us as unique individuals and as global citizens. It says, “when there’s righteousness in the heart, there’s harmony in the home; when there’s harmony in the home, there’s order in the nation; when there’s order in the nation, there’s peace in the world.”

As we leave tonight, Class of 2010, we won’t cry because it’s over. We’ll smile because it happened.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the Class of 2010.

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