My Valedictorian Address, a Poem

The following is my valedictorian speech, delivered at my high school graduation in 2009. As you’ll see below, the majority of the speech was an original poem. Sure, I’m tempted to be a bit embarrassed by the poem today, but I’m also proud that I went for it. Let me know what you think!


Such a mix of emotions comes with this simple word…

Students are exhilarated to finally be done with yet another chapter of their lives.

Parents are also excited, yet saddened perhaps by the fact that their little babies are now about to embark into the real world.

Faculty are relieved to get such a motley group of troublemakers out of their school!Guests are happy to watch it all come together in one orchestrated ceremony,

Guests are happy to watch it all come together in one orchestrated ceremony, which is customarily concluded by a farewell address from the graduating valedictorian:

A poor individual who must say goodbye while also addressing all parties and emotions involved, all within the space of a short speech.

Fortunately, Mrs. Covrett, my English teacher, taught me that poetry is the language of both emotion and economy.

Earlier this year, amidst the trials and tribulations of AP English Literature and Composition, we read a poem entitled “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning.”

This poem, written by John Donne about a love that transcends physical separation between him and his beloved, inspired me to compose my own work in the interests of avoiding both triteness and plagiarism on this most auspicious occasion.

Now, John Donne forbade his beloved from openly mourning his departure.

While I do not think it fitting for me to forbid anyone anything, please indulge me a few moments of your time as we look both back at the past and ahead into the future by way of my poem, entitled:


The years, a road before us This school, the path behind And who can know what lies ahead? The twists and turns we’ll find

Our time, it passes swiftly, This life will soon be gone When we look back upon our days, What is it we’ll have done?

The world has many pleasures its riches and its fame Yet none of these are lasting treasures for all face death the same

We’ve all one life to use now, Our time will soon be past And though this world will pass away, What’s done for Christ will last.

For years, we’ve learned and grown here, a foundation has been laid. The future looms before us now, a choice has to be made:

To waste our lives upon ourselves? To build on sinking sand? Or found ourselves upon the Rock, Who holds us in His hands?

The choice may seem quite simple now, as though the battle’s won, but day by day, the world cries out “Don’t fret! Go play! Have fun!”

Our lives will have their share of joy, Good gifts from God each day. But don’t be fooled, there’s pain as well There’s bumps along our way.

Should we be scared? Can we succeed? Is there hope amidst the fear? Will we press on? or stop to heed those voices in our ear:

“Turn back! This way is difficult! It’s much too hard for you! Too frightening, there’s no comfort there, You’ll never make it through!”

Don’t stop! Press on! For don’t we know? and have not we been told? It’s only through the fire You obtain the purest gold.

We have a God in Heaven A Father and a Guide He gives the strength to carry on To those who would reside

in Him. we find our purpose In Him we find the way to live our lives unwasted ,to boldly face each day.

For He alone knows how much time we have to walk the road And He alone knows every trial, The weight of each our loads

Though high school is now over We’ve so much more to do! The door has been flung-open, and now we must walk through–

We’ll miss the loving people here Who’ve helped us on our way. Though time and distance come between, Our thankfulness won’t fade.

So, Mom and Dad, we thank you for The time and love you give. You’ve been there through our best and worst To show us how to live.

Our teachers, better mentors We would be hard-pressed to find. They’ve taught us both to seek the Truth And always guard our minds.

So many more deserve our thanks, Yet words cannot convey The boundless debt of gratitude That we should rightly pay.

And now we say “farewell” “Goodbye,” as we depart. One journey ends, another’s here on which we must embark.

(For another original poem of mine, check out “From a Grateful Son,” which I wrote for my mother on Mother’s Day in 2009.)