Published in the June 9, 2017 edition
“We must be confident in ourselves and our abilities and approach every new situation with a level of poise and persistence that inhibits fear from convincing us to turn around. Ultimately, the mistakes that we make are what builds our character and make us stronger individuals. Without them, we are unable to reach our full potential.”
~ Valedictorian Caroline Buckley
By CAROLINE BUCKLEY
Good evening and welcome to all family and friends gathered here tonight to witness this important milestone in the lives of your sons, daughters, relatives, and friends. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Superintendent Jane Tremblay, Principal Cleary, even though he could not be here today due to his own daughter’s high school graduation, Vice Principal Bates, School Committee members, LHS faculty, and, most importantly, my fellow graduates – the members of Lynnfield High School’s Class of 2017.
It is crazy to think that 2017 is already here. It feels like yesterday it was only 2013 and we were all stepping through the doors of Lynnfield High School for the first time as wide-eyed freshmen, nervous about what the next four years would bring. We walked timidly through the halls for weeks, weary of the big and powerful seniors that passed by us on the way to class. In the lunchroom, we were destined for the tables by the wall – not because we were aware of this Lynnfield High tradition, but because, in all honesty, these tables were closer to the teachers, the exit, and meant we avoided having to make the long trek past the upperclassmen when buying lunch. As freshman, these little things mattered to us. We were all young and naive, and high school was a daunting hurdle in front of us that we each had to find a way to clear. Most of us were scared of messing up, embarrassing ourselves, and making mistakes along the way both in and out of the classroom. Back in 2013, we knew we had a long road ahead of us, each day believing that 2017 was so far into the future that we would never be seniors; let alone be sitting in the chairs that we are today, prepared to walk across this stage, about to land confidently on the opposite side of the hurdle.
So much has led up to this year and to this moment. The majority of us sitting here today have been together for the past 12 years. From the time of the rivalry between Summer Street and Huckleberry to the awkward intertwining of the two at the start of middle school, we have all come together, grown, and matured as a whole. Together, we have created countless memories with those sitting next to and around us, and have built friendships that we know will last a lifetime. It is with these same people that we have worked tirelessly in the classrooms, on the athletic fields, on the stage, and in all other activities we have been a part of during our time at LHS. We have shared with each other all of the experiences that high school has to offer and, as seniors about to graduate, can reflect lightly on all the ups and the downs that have molded us into the intelligent and confident young adults that we are today. Our hard work has certainly paid off, and it is bittersweet to say that we have officially made it.
Many of us will agree, however, that we could not have accomplished as much as we have without the people in our lives who have supported and encouraged us every single day. For many of us, that begins with our parents. They are the ones who were there for us on those late nights when the stress was too much to bear, who picked us back up when we felt defeated, and who were always there to cheer on our victories. Personally, I would like to thank my mom and dad along with my sister and grandparents for all they have done for me in my life. I would not be standing before you all today without them.
In addition to our parents, it is also important that we thank Principal Cleary, Vice Principal Bates, our teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, and everyone else who has served as mentors over these last four years and have taught us all we have learned – not just about derivatives, figurative language, projectiles, and the Civil War, but about life as well. The foundation you have all provided us with during our time at Lynnfield High School has ensured our future success wherever we may end up.
Although this chapter in our lives is ending and a new one is about to begin, I want to remind you all not to leave what you have learned in the past as the lessons that we have acquired at LHS will be essential in clearing the next hurdle awaiting us on the paths that we have chosen to pursue.
Today, I want to share with you all one of the most important lessons that I took from my time at LHS in the hopes that it may guide some of you into the next chapter of your lives. Actor Ed Helms put this lesson best when he said, “Don’t be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.”
As many of us venture off to different colleges and universities across the country, there are going to be endless opportunities awaiting us. We will have the opportunity to take a class on a topic that had always secretly interested us. We will have the opportunity to try a new sport, join a new club, or even start a new club of our own. Most importantly, we will have the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, and form connections that will teach us so much about the world and ourselves. I believe that it is essential that we do not let fear stand in the way of us seizing these opportunities. We must be confident in ourselves and our abilities and approach every new situation with a level of poise and persistence that inhibits fear from convincing us to turn around. Ultimately, the mistakes that we make are what builds our character and make us stronger individuals. Without them, we are unable to reach our full potential.
As you walk across this stage today, promise to not let the fear of failure stop you from following your dreams. LHS has provided us with the foundation, and now it is up to us to seize our future and the opportunities that will lead us to success. From the words of English author Neil Gaiman, “Now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.”
Thank you again and congratulations to the class of 2017!