Crisp Academy Valedictorian Speech
Valedictory Address by Katherine Carpenter
Mr. Hathcock, Board of Trustees, Parents, Honored Guests, and Fellow Graduates, it is my honor to speak to you this morning as the valedictorian of the Class of 2020.
My dear friend, Rachel, has just finished talking about facing our fears, and she is absolutely right, especially in light of this recent pandemic and the ongoing violence our nation is confronting. I look out and see so many people who are terrified. People who don’t know what the future holds. I also see people that are scared to leave familiar places, like this school and their home, and even more scared to start down a path that holds the unknown, but we shouldn’t be scared. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul writes, “For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Now that we are graduating, we must remember not to live in fear but rather to replace our fear with power, love, and a sound mind, and here’s how we can live as Paul describes.
Graduating gives us the power to be independent. We get to make our own choices and to decide the type of life we want to live. We have the power to decide the level of education we will pursue, which career to advance in, and which people to let into our lives. Every day each of us must ask, “What kind of person do I want to be? Do I want to be the kind of person who always pushes to be the best version of himself or herself? Do I want to be the kind of person that strives for success in all aspects of life? Maybe I’ll be the kind of person who focuses more on family than on self or career. Or maybe I’ll be the kind of person who looks at the world and says, ‘I’m going to change it.’” Because we have this power of independence and this ability to make our own choices, we also have the power to make a difference in the world, and I truly believe, looking at my classmates today, that anyone here can change the world.
The Lord also gave us the spirit of love. As a student at Crisp Academy, I experienced love every single day. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of love I have experienced happened in the 5th grade. In 5th grade I had appendicitis. I had to have surgery and therefore was out of school for quite a while. I didn’t expect many people to notice or even care about what had happened to me, but I was proven wrong. While I was in the hospital, nearly half of the student body wrote letters and visited me so that I knew that I was missed and loved, and I know that I am not the only one here that has experienced Crisp Academy’s love. Now that we are leaving this loving school, we can use all of our experiences and extend love to others. Right now, especially with this pandemic going on, we must reach out and console those who have been affected by the virus, those who are hurting and helpless and those who are scared and uncertain. The Lord gave us the spirit of love so that we could help others and make a real difference in the world.
Perhaps the most important thing the Lord has given us is a sound mind. As Crisp Academy students, we have learned from a very young age how to improve our character. We have learned honesty, kindness, and respect. We were taught to prioritize these characteristics and to shape our entire personalities around them. We were also raised in an environment where we were taught God’s word. Our teachers and coaches have given us a sturdy academic foundation so that we can continue our education in our college careers or in the workplace. We have learned how to learn and how to make wise decisions. God gave us this background, this foundation, so that we would have a sound mind and in turn be able to use His spirit of power and of love to help others.
Classmates, as I look out and see each of you proudly sitting with your caps and gowns, I see a group of people that have the potential to do amazing things, and I am honored to be a member of this class. Now, I challenge each of you, my friends, to live in a spirit of power, love, and sound mind, so that we, the Class of 2020, can become the people that God has planned for us to be.
Today is not a day to be fearful or worried or sad. Today we should celebrate. We should celebrate our friendships, our wonderful families, our education, our achievements, our faith, and the opportunity to move forward with excitement and anticipation of whatever is to come. Class of 2020, we are ready.