Valedictorian Address - Varshini Narayanan
To my family, friends, teachers, and most importantly, fellow members of the Class of 2012: I’d like to start by thanking everyone who got me to where I am today, and for giving me the opportunity to speak on this last occasion.
I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to say today. I felt as though after twelve years of school, I should have some valuable life lessons to impart, some overarching theme and universal effects that tie us all together. At the very least I wanted to avoid reading Dr. Seuss out loud. But I couldn’t come up with anything.
And I think that’s because there is no universal story, no common path that led us all here today. Every one of us has our own version of what we went through, what we learned, and what we’re leaving behind.
On this year’s music trip to Boston, one of my favorite moments of high school happened. And it wasn’t winning every category, or struggling to fit our trophies into the buses’ luggage compartments on the ride home. It was a little jam session that happened, that started as a group of kids from our school just having fun.
We wandered on stage and started playing some jazz before awards started, a song a few them had written together. And then it just escalated into this incredible event with other students joining us, or getting into the music, and ended in the most unified feeling I’ve ever felt at our school.
Hundreds of kids got so involved in the performance and I think every single one of us was feeling the same excitement and pride coursing through our veins. In that moment we were Scotch Plains-FanwoodHigh School.
Moments like that are proof that even though we all do have unique stories and separate lives, at the end of the day this is where we’re from. And now, to us. We are the class of 2012. And as much as we hate to think that if the world actually ends this year, we’ve basically spent our entire lives in school, there have been moments for all of us that almost made it worth it.
Whether you loved high school as much as Liz Gallo or have been counting down to this moment since the first day of freshman year, we all found our niche here. Some of us were athletes, and some of us were the members of Raider Nation cheering at every game.
Some of us already have our schedules cleared to come back and see next year’s Rep Theatre production. Some of us joined SGA to prove we were popular, and some of us joined marching band to ensure that we weren’t. And even if your thing was just the same hallway that you met your friends in every morning, that was enough. Because as insignificant as it seems, little things like that, made this school a part of you, because you wouldn’t feel quite right without them.
We are defined by where we have been. Little things like managing to love cafeteria cookies and the warm glow you feel when the Fanscotian comes out, and the overwhelming disappointment we all secretly felt when they got rid of Mole Day balloons, prove how much this school has meant to us and been a part of our lives. And as a class, we all faced the same challenges.
We all dealt with JRPs and Global Perspectives and mirrors we couldn’t see ourselves in. We were preceded by a reputation for being the laziest, most unprepared senior class this school has seen in years. But you know what, I don’t think we lived up to it.
We proved that if we put our minds to it, we could orchestrate a school-wide pillow fight. We could get through prom weekend without anyone getting sent to the hospital. Despite some of our best efforts to prove our teachers right, we succeeded in spite of ourselves. And we all did pick up some lessons along the way.
We learned that failing a test isn’t the end of the world. That Raider pride doesn’t have to be about winning football games. We learned how to avoid the draft. We learned that the people you’re mean to will inevitably become more successful than you. I learned that one the hard way – I used to beat this kid up in fourth grade, and now he’s going on tour with Victoria Justice.
That’s life. You learn from it and you move on. And we’re all moving on.Until now there’s been a formula for success. Like how to get into college: X extracurriculars + Y hours of community service, multiply the whole thing by your GPA and add a hundred points for minority status - you know who you are.
We’ve been told what we needed to do; success was defined for us. But from here on out, it’s in our hands. We can define success for ourselves. It begins with a choice. Wherever you’re headed next year, whether you’re off to college, or entering the workforce or going into the army or whatever else you may be doing, that is your decision. That is how you have chosen to define the next step towards success. And that is a beautiful thing.
Uncertainty is nothing more or less than the freedom to choose.The message I would like to leave you with today is that things don’t always go according to plan. And they shouldn’t. We all made it. We’re here today because we’ve succeeded.
Think back to yourself, freshman year. How much of your high school experience has honestly gone the way you wanted it to, or the way you expected? And yet, how much of it would you change, given the chance? We can’t plan for all of the broken resolutions or broken hearts.
Look back at the things that fell apart, and smile about them, because they made you who you are, or at the very least gave you something to laugh about in retrospect. And in the future, embrace the unexpected. Let yourself take a wrong turn once in a while, because there’s really no such thing; just a path to somewhere else. O
ur possibilities are infinite, even if turns out that the Mayans are right and we have less than a year left. Congratulations, Class of 2012.Thank you for everything.
The Class President's Message - Naomi Joseph
Over a decade ago, marked one of the biggest stepping stones of our lives... It was the day we graduated from kindergarten.
At that point we had no idea what was to come, all we knew was that we were leaving our toy blocks and nap time behind and entering the world of real school. Nap time changed to recess, half day school turned to full day, and we began elementary school, the foundation of our futures.
But to be quite honest, all it meant in our eyes was a bunch of new friends and birthday parties to attend. We then made our way to the jungle called middle school, where we learned the word popular and the guidance office was the most visited place in the building.
We also made our first enemies in middle school, the aliens at the other side of town. The classic Park vs Terrill fights never got old. But most importantly, middle school was when we first learned our computer log ins and that little 12 in front of our first initial and last name meant nothing then but it'd later come to represent the most important year: 2012.
And then we somehow managed to make it here. Scotch Plains Fanwood High school. Where we'd spend lunch watching dance offs, english slaving our way through our jrps, and all our free time learning how to operate our lifeline for getting into college: naviance.
We'd progressed through the stages whole heartily until it came to our senior year where instead of jumping to grow up, we took a few hesitant steps backwards. A slight pause. It was the moment we realized we'd never get nap time or recess back, and got that uneasy feeling about what's to come and leaving behind everything we know and what made us who we are.
But stepping onto the next phase like we've done so many times before doesn't mean we have to give up the memories from good ol spiffy or forget the people that we've shared our journey with so far.
Think back to your early memories here in Scotch Plains and Fanwood.. I can almost guarantee one of our fellow classmates was a part of it whether you're still friends today or not. I remember when Maggie O'Brien taught me how to tie my shoes bunny ear style in preschool. I distinctly recall practicing all night just to show her how good I'd gotten the next day.
These memories from our past are nothing more than pieces of our childhood. We CAN go out into the real world to discover ourselves without letting go of what made us who we are. Every pep rally we had, every sporting event we went all in for (whether in the scorching sun or the dead middle of winter) and every cheer we screamed lead by our infamous blue man mascot is a part of our Raider heritage that will forever run in our veins.
As a class, we made our mark and will forever be known as Raider legends but individually, high school wasn't always smooth riding. It might have been where you met your soul mate, or where you had your first real heartbreak; it might've been the first time you worked hard and made a varsity sport or the first time of many you had your head in the garbage after tryouts, it might have been the first time you attended your first real house party, or the first time you had to take a walk of shame after your room got raided at the Skyview, but whatever it was, it was all a learning experience.
Every thing you went through was just what beings young is about: trial and error, actions and consequences, mistakes and learning. High school is where we are shaped and molded into young adults.
But as we're all beginning to realize; life's so much bigger than high school.It really doesn't matter how often you "hit the gym" or who's making out with who in the hallway. There's so much more to life. In the words of Drake "your character is what you really are.. while reputation is merely what others think you are."
As we leave here today, we get the chance to start new and begin creating our own identities. Just as we took that final walk 12 or 13 years and entered the world of real school, we took this final walk of high school as we prepare to enter the real world.
Remember to always be true to yourselves and most importantly, never forget the place where it all began. It's time we embrace change and leave familiarity behind in hope of finding a new adventure. I now declare the Class of 2012 as Alumni of Scotch Plains Fanwood high school.
The following speeches were printed with the consent of the two speakers and distributed to Scotch Plains-Fanwood Patch by Dr. Heisey, Prinicipal SPFHS