The Class of 2016 has a lot to be thankful for. And in the style of Jimmy Fallon’s thank you notes:
Thank you, teachers, for forgiving us even when we’re late to class every day.
Thank you, parents, for feeding us, because we know we needed those veggies.
Thank you, friends, for telling us when there’s corn in our teeth after lunch on pasta bar day.
Thank you, pets, for being so cute and infinitely better than all human beings.
Thank you, Spotify, for allowing us to jam to Fetty Wap while studying for calculus tests.
Thank you, coffee, for making it possible to both finish our homework AND "House of Cards" in one night.
We would not have made it to graduation without all of those things and all of you here. I’d also like to personally thank you for suffering through five minutes of me telling awkward jokes. I’d like to encourage you to all laugh even if they’re not funny. And, in the case that I start crying, please pretend I have terrible allergies.
It’s difficult to leave this place and say this speech, because Randolph is home. We’ve spent hours and hours in these halls. Think about how many breakfast potatoes we’ve all consumed over the past four years. Or all the time spent not doing homework in the library. The number of times we heard a distant cow moo on the farm during football games. Or the number of times Mr. Liese has shown us a Shia LaBeouf meme. Or how many different patterns have appeared on Mr. Freeman’s pants.
While these things are quantifiable, the greatest part of our Randolph experience is undoubtedly abstract: It’s the community that cares unconditionally for each and every one of us that makes this school so special.
If any of you have ever taken an art class with Mrs. Reyes, you would know that when someone asks a question, she sets aside everything, taking ample time to ensure that she fully helps you through your issue, whether that be finding a date to homecoming, venting, or dealing with the huge yellow blob of paint you accidentally just dropped in the middle of your painting. Other students might be waiting impatiently for their turn to ask to use the restroom or for the location of the scissors, grumbling and fidgeting, but Mrs. Reyes chooses to focus on the individual student. Sometimes, when those students interrupt, she’ll simply say, “I’m sorry, I’m talking to Mariam right now.” Everything else can wait. For in those 5, 10, 15 minutes, I have her undivided attention.
Sometimes, that attention might include bringing out the Hulk hands if I’m being self-deprecating. Because at Randolph, we quickly learn that that’s not what thoughtful reflection and growth are about. In art class, Mrs. Reyes shows how much she cares and respects our individual thoughts, growth, and learning by giving us as much time as we need to solve whatever problems we’re facing or celebrate any success.
Here, our teachers, classmates, and parents have walked us through everything, from kindergarten to senior year. All 101 of us are essential to the Class of 2016; we are all valued, loved, and cared for here at Randolph. Mrs. McMichens was always there to respond to our texts with chemistry questions the night before tests. Mrs. Karen and Pierre always knew exactly what we wanted to eat in the lunchroom before we even stepped in line. Cox somehow always knew exactly when another student needed a hug. Brandon Smith always knew when we needed five more years. Our injured friends always let us ride the elevator with them so we wouldn’t have to walk the dreadful stairs.
And hopefully, no matter how far we go, we can always be there for each other. And I hope this tradition always continues at this school. Now, the letters on our report cards, the brands we wore, and the amount of points we had from wearing leggings; no longer matter. What’s important is that we continue to support each other even if we don’t see one another in the hallways on a daily basis. That doesn’t necessarily mean our snap streaks or poke wars will last forever, but that if we randomly see each other in the checkout line at Publix in three years, we’ll say hi.
In reality, none of us would have become who we are today without having interacted with the community sitting in this auditorium, in small and big ways. I know I wouldn’t be the same person without Windham’s sarcasm, Drew’s memes, Karl’s psychic weather powers, or Caleb’s guacamole. After all, we have been through a lot together. We survived the Swine Flu, 2012, Uggs, the Harlem Shake, and the cinnamon challenge.
In the past years, we finally got Crossan to speak, Saahil became the class dad, and we finally got Jaker to smile. And of course, we have long lives ahead of us that will be filled with excitement and success despite the next crazy thing we encounter.
And if you’re worried at all about moving on to college, just remind yourself that Finding Dory comes out in less than a month. So here’s to always being a Raider, a friend, a student, and a learner. It’s been an amazing run at Randolph, but I know we’ll all move on to bigger and better things.
Stay in touch, Class of 2016, and all other alumni! Come home for Homecoming 2016 (October 14-15), send us your news, and make sure we have your current contact information so we can send you news and invite you to events.