Salutatorian Speech: Becoming a Team

Posted by Brooke Harmon '19 - 15 July, 2019

By Brooke Harmon, Class of 2019 Salutatorian

Teachers, classmates, faculty, parents: Thank you all for being here to celebrate the beginning of
the commencement of our high school career. I would like to start with reminding you all of what we did
as juniors. Do you remember that extremely long junior-year research paper that was spent at least a
month in the making? The behemoth I-SEARCH that we all worked on was the culmination of an
extended period of hard work, determination and immense stress. For the first time in our lives, we were
expected to write a full research paper, with citations and all.
6U4A5376(1)wThe topics, I remember, were extremely culturally diverse, from ZJ’s exploration of African American hair to Nisha’s examination of Don Quixote. I, however, decided to write about my own culture: anxiety. All of it-- from taking tests to talking to teachers to standing up and giving speeches--usually tends to make me anxious. This type of all-encompassing anxiety has a negative connotation, and rightfully so. It can make me just a little bit stressed whenever I have to stand up and set myself apart from a crowd. I thought I could outsmart my anxiety by deciding not to give a senior speech this year, but life has a sense of humor because it turns out I’m giving a speech anyway. It is this same anxiety, however, that propelled me to study for fear of failure. It has caused me to prepare, prepare, prepare in the face of a possible apocalypse, to apply to 14 colleges just to make sure that I wouldn’t be living in my parent’s basement. In short, while it at times is a hindrance, it is also a blessing. I have been forced to prepare to the utmost degree for every scenario.

I’m not going to lie, this year has been difficult, as I’m sure all of you can agree. Whether its
because you’re taking five APs, you applied to 20 colleges like Brayden, or just in general, you’re now
expected to answer your family members when they ask what you’re doing with your life. We all have
been challenged this year.

Looking back, I see we have been able to become a team.

When I think back, there are a few key activities that come to mind: I remember the endless packs of biozones that we slaved over in AP Bio or the awkward feeling of responding to a recording in attempts to seem somewhat passably fluent in Spanish. I also remember the conversations I shared with my friends leading up until winter break, when it was forbidden to mention college or any deadline under threat of a mental breakdown. I remember getting up at 4 am to go to cross country practice, only to make my muscles want to cry for a week. All of these exercises were at times grueling, but it is not necessarily the act of doing them that I remember most.
Instead of completing each packet of biozones all before the night they were due, I most remember all of us sitting outside of class, compiling notes and questions that we’d had no time to ask Mrs.Hillinck that might help us with difficult parts. Instead of recounting the pain of trying to converse with a recorder, I hear all of us laughing over how I mispronounced a phrase in Spanish as “Dos Equis (EK ees)” after the beer brand. Instead of reliving the painful procrastination of the college application process, I instead dwell on how we rallied around the power of good MEMES to fill our lunches with laughter instead of tears. In place of reliving the feeling of a hard sprint workout, I instead reminisce about the feeling of getting ready with my teammates before school and dancing to our favorite music.

Throughout this year and our high school career, I believe we have learned to enjoy what we were
doing, even though it was difficult. I can see how we have come together in each of our classes to share
information and to band together in study groups. I recognize the camaraderie built because of the adversity of senior year. It would be easy for all of us to settle into modes of competition and to isolate ourselves from each other in order to be the best, yet we don’t. We study, work, and laugh together in the
classroom. Looking back, I see we have been able to become a team.

I am confident that the Randolph community has been able to teach us how to find
the beauty in adversity.

We would not have been able to form these teams and enjoy difficulty if not for our amazing teachers.
They are our biggest advocates. They foster the challenges, but also the supportive environment where we can laugh at our mistakes instead of judging each other and doing whatever we can to get ahead. I am
extremely grateful to them for all they have done to prepare us for the next step and for the extreme
patience, mercy, and empathy they have continually shown us throughout our years at Randolph.
Now, graduating is the same as the biozones, or oral phone conversations, or even my anxiety. It is scary,
new, and different not having any idea what is to come, but it is also extremely exciting and an
important part of life. As we move forward into graduating and leaving this place that we’ve called home
for most of our lives, I am confident that the Randolph community has been able to teach us how to find
the beauty in adversity. My biggest hope for us as a class is that we continue this in our lives at college, as
adults, and beyond. Thank you.
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Topics: senior year, hard work, journey

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