Honor Essayist




Good evening, esteemed faculty, family, and fellow class of 2024 graduates. My name is Isabelle Kim, and it is an absolute honor and privilege to be standing here in front of you all today. I was told that I was supposed to share some sort of thoughtful analogy or profound life lesson about high school. But truthfully, I do not feel qualified enough to be giving that sort of advice to you today.

While drafting these very words, I began to realize how little wisdom and life experiences I have in order to make some sort of deep and insightful message. That is, unless you want me to reflect on the lessons of perseverance we’ve learned from getting stuck in the middle school traffic line after school or reminisce about the unintentional reunions we’ve had with each other at the Dunkins’ on Washington Street before school.

High school—no matter how long we felt it took to graduate—, in hindsight, only makes up a small portion of our lives. The past four years certainly were not the easiest thing in the world, as I’m sure we all had our own personal obstacles balancing hours of homework, extracurriculars, along with our social lives. In fact, I’m sure many of us are so relieved that this era of our lives is finally coming to a close.

On the last day school, the only coherent thought that was running through my head as I was trying to complete and turn in my last Lit assignment for Mr. Putnam was: “I’m done!” But, that being said, we are certainly not done. Although we may feel old, as the oldest grade in the school, we still have so many more milestones to experience and learn from. The memories we have of high school really only make up a tiny fraction of our lives.

However, it is still for certain that this short part of our lives have greatly influenced us and shaped us into the people we are today. I can easily say that if it weren’t for the people surrounding me throughout the past four years, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. Being able to speak in front of you all this evening definitely isn’t because of anything that I have done by myself, but instead it is because of the people who have been there for me and supported me along the way.

I am especially grateful for Mr. Owens, Mr. Muse, Ms. Dye and the entire North Reading performing arts department. I cannot go on without mentioning how thankful I am for the insane amount of work they have put into growing the band program and fostering the community where so many students have found their place of belonging. Mr. Owens, thank you for not only making me a better musician, but a better leader and person.

I’d also like to express my gratitude to our class officers, who have worked tirelessly to organize all of our class events and advocate for our student body. Thank you to all of the captains and student leaders of every sport or club who have done so much to build the North Reading High School community to what it is today. Thank you to the custodial staff, lunch ladies, and administrative assistants, Mrs. Tsang and Mrs. Jorgenson in the main office who I sincerely believe are the backbones of this school. And of course, thank you to my parents and sister who have given me so much support and made countless sacrifices for me, leading up to today.

Class of 2024, it has been an immense privilege to get to know all of you for the past four years and I will certainly miss having such a small class–especially since it means having a shorter commencement ceremony.

I promise I am almost at the conclusion of this speech, but I did find a quote that resonated with me and hopefully will resonate the same with you today. From the cinematic masterpiece that is the film, Kung Fu Panda, Master Oogway, shares the following line, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why we call it the present.”

Despite the fact that we may possibly feel sad and/or extremely unprepared to move on from this short chapter of our lives, we can follow the wise words of Master Oogway and only dwell on the current moments happening right now. Which is, that we’re finally graduating. Now that I have been speaking for far too long, there is only one thing left for me to say but, thank you and congratulations to the class of 2024. We’re finally done!