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Crisp County High School Salutatorian Address

Photo submitted by Carla Whitley
Crisp County High School Salutatorian, Sarah Williams

By Sarah Williams

The Finish Line

Good evening, Class of 2018! Thank you to the parents, family, friends, and staff that are present tonight to join us in celebrating this great milestone in our lives. Earlier this week, as I looked through our yearbook, I thought about how many memories I have with this group and how special each of you are to me. I’ll never forget the hundreds of bus rides to and from school. It’s crazy the things you learn about a person when you’re crammed into a bus seat for an hour every day. I’ll never forget the intensity of wall ball or how the entire class managed to get silent lunch every single day during 5th grade at A.S. Clark. Middle school flew by; those were the years of embarrassing fashion choices, makeup mishaps, and write-ups galore. Suddenly, we were freshman in high school, taking “harder” classes, dressing out for P.E., and. wondering what the seniors thought of us- when they basically ignored us. Over the past four years, we have grown tremendously as individuals- most of us in maturity, and some of us only in height. At this point, many of us view this graduation as the finish line. However, know that this is just the beginning of your race. Life is a marathon, and our past has given us the qualities and knowledge to endure such a demanding task. Tonight, I want you to realize that we must use the skills and lessons we’ve learned in school to shape our future.

For runners, most physical training is to improve stamina. In our case, our training has been the emotional and mental development we’ve undergone in school. We’ve learned to form our own opinions, while still respecting the thoughts of others. Regardless, of race, religion, or riches, we have acknowledged the value of one another. School has taught us that you don’t have to be like someone to accept them.

As Fred Devito, an athlete and trainer, once said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” Life will challenge us just as marathons challenge the most talented of athletes. Athletes experience disappointment and defeat from time to time, but they rebound and find new ways to achieve their goals. We’ve faced defeat whenever

the teacher said, “No, Wikipedia cannot be a source for your research paper”. However, we didn’t give up; we simply asked, “Well, can we still use Google?”

We have learned determination, patience, and competition. We were all determined to leave the parking lot first, but we learned patience whenever we waited at the back of the line. As for competition, we caught on quickly, and as a result, we have 70 honor graduates.

In addition to training, athletes also follow strict diets because they understand that their bodies run off of what they take in. Similarly, we have to realize that it’s important to retain the positive things we’ve learned in the past. After all, we wouldn’t be the people we are right now without the lessons we’ve consumed. Many of us say, “I’m so ready to put Cordele and my past behind me.” We have all had our ups and downs, but never forget your past. Just like the nutrition of an athlete, the things we’ve gained are what shape us into the people we are. Don’t regret your past- reflect upon it.

Marathon runners have to be self-motivated to achieve their goals. We’ve learned motivation. In 2nd grade, we wanted that personal pan from Pizza Hut, so we read as many AR books as possible. In 5th grade, we wanted the yellow chord on our recorder, so we learned how to play Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Whenever we started high school, we decided we wanted to graduate, and now, here we are living that goal. Unfortunately, many of us have slacked on self-motivation. For you, there were a few days where eating Hot Cheetos and binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy and 13 Reasons Why took priority over doing homework. In a marathon, you can’t say, “Hey buddy, help me to the finish line.” This is also true for life; you can’t rely on other people to motivate you. Time will never stop, so it’s important to take advantage of the time you do have.

So many of us have the potential to do great things with our lives, and “I wish you would” (Sowell, 2018). Just as runners use their training, nutrition, and drive to succeed in marathons, I want you to leave realizing that school has provided the training necessary (or our future) success. Wherever your marathon takes you, it’s important to remember what has gotten you to this point. Life is your maratho11; set your pace, determine your goals, and start running. It’s been a pleasure growing with you, and I am excited to see the strides we will make. This may feel like the finish line, but we are just getting started.

Congratulations Class of 2018! We marched.