Valedictory Address – Alisyn Bourque

Alisyn BourqueWelcome everyone and thank you Superintendent Doherty, Principal Bakr, faculty members, and loved ones for being here today. Hello Class of 2017, RMHS’s biggest and best class, and congratulations to each and every one of you on everything you have accomplished in these past four years. Everyone sitting here today has so much to be proud of and so many people who are so proud of you! It’s crazy to me how far we’ve come since our first days in the Reading School System, and it can feel like almost too long ago to remember. But in a lot of ways I think we have come full circle together, and we aren’t that different than our 5 year-old selves. Some people say that all you really need to know, you learn in kindergarten, and I always thought they were crazy. After all the calculus problems I’ve done and english essays I’ve written, I couldn’t have been doing it all for nothing.

But more recently I’ve realized that the lessons we were taught in kindergarten, though we might remember them as silly or simple, hold much more value than you might be aware of. Even as the untouchable seniors, at the top of the hierarchy, I believe it is gratifying to revisit these lessons and see how powerful they really are as we move on in our lives.

As soon as I mentioned kindergarten lessons I’m sure the first one that popped into your head was the classic mantra we’ve heard hundreds of times: sharing is caring. Now, when I bring up this lesson I don’t really mean its basic principle like it’s nice to share your last tater tot at lunch with your friend, or share your last piece of gum that you really didn’t want to give away but did anyway. Although it’s great to be a generous person, I think the amazing thing about graduating is now it’s time for us to look beyond the walls of RMHS to see what we are going to be able to share with the world. By sharing our individual talents and interests with others around us and showing what each of us can accomplish, that is how we help to advance our world together.

There are millions of jobs in our society, with different products in need of fixing, different areas in need of research, or different people in need of inspiration, and though one person can’t do them all, together we can tackle them simultaneously. Already with all the diverse interests coming out of our class, we can share so much with the world if we each find our passion and work hard towards what we want to accomplish with it.

Another memory I think we all share from our days as kindergarteners is idolizing the student that the teacher chose to be the line leader for that day. As a kid, we put the line leader on a pedestal and had great admiration for that person, and I think this mentality is one that is extremely important to have in life yet it has disappeared as we’ve gotten older. To be a leader is to have a thirst for going out and making things happen, a devotion to finding solutions that push the boundaries, and an ambition to leave a positive mark on the world around you. A leader tries what others might not have before, and always has the courage to look a challenge in the face and not back down until they’ve attacked it with their best effort. In order to be a leader and not a follower, you need to have goals, work hard, and commit to doing what it takes to achieve them. Though it started with the eagerness to be a leader of a line of toddlers, I believe we should all strive to be a leader in everything we do, as we create our own unique paths in life.

Lastly, I think most of us would agree that the perfect word to describe a kindergartener is curious. It makes me smile when I see their innocent excitement and genuine curiosity about the world that is so unknown to them. They are like sponges who are constantly learning, taking in just as much in the classroom as at recess and learning math just as much as how to spin the fastest on the spinney thing in the Birch Meadow playground. In kindergarten we were at the very beginning of our learning career, and though we are many years older and wiser now, we find ourselves again at the beginning of a new journey, and I encourage you to channel your inner kindergartener as you embark on it. Ask questions, always have the desire to keep learning, and, most importantly, never stop being curious because there are always new things to be discovered, and passionate, driven, curious thinkers are how we better understand and help the world every day.

So, today as we walk across the stage as graduating seniors, it is a perfect time to reflect fondly on our younger days. We’ve been taught early on how to share, how to be a leader, and how to utilize our curiosity, and I know we will always hold Reading and the lessons we’ve learned from our time here near to our hearts. But now it is our time to put these lessons into action and become who we want to be. Go after your passion with a fierce drive; go achieve your goals and be happy when you do, and go lead the way both in your career and in your life. 

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