Valedictorian Analeigha Colarusso’s remarks
Good evening and welcome to all those gathered here tonight to celebrate this major milestone. I would like to extend a warm welcome to Superintendent Tremblay, Principal Cleary who is unable to be with us tonight, Vice Principal Bates, School Committee members, faculty, and my fellow classmates, the graduating Class of 2018.
I have to begin by saying that when I first sat down to prepare this speech, I had a different theme in mind. Since many of you know me as the girl who makes chocolates for every class and for every occasion, I thought it would be appropriate to relate to Forrest Gump’s “life is like a box of chocolates.” Then I realized that this actually may be the first time, and probably the last time, that many of you will hear me speak. Therefore, I felt it would be more important to share with you a final and more meaningful piece of advice that my grandfather passed along to me: Roll with the punches.
Roll with the punches. These words have given me courage, strength, and determination. These words have given me hope, passion, and resilience. These words are why I have the tremendous privilege of standing before you tonight.
Let’s admit it: life can be difficult and stressful at times. Things do not always go as planned. Things are not always easy. We are often hit with obstacles, setbacks, and failures along our journeys. However, as bad as things may seem, these punches we take are meant to push us to step out of our comfort zones, embrace change, and challenge ourselves to grow. These setbacks and failures are the key to take on challenges and will teach us some of the most important lessons in life. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and guidance. These are not signs of weakness or defeat, but of strength and courage.
Think back to when we were in elementary school. This was a major adjustment for all of us, as it was the first time that we spent hours every day away from home and in school. There were new things to learn, new rules to follow, new people to meet, and new adults telling us what to do. Even with these obstacles in front of us, we challenged ourselves to learn new topics, make new friends, and grow. For the first time in our lives, we took on actual responsibilities. We were table washers, line leaders, and even door holders. At the time, these tasks felt so daunting, but now we can’t help but be proud when we realize how we have grown into role models as Compass leaders, tutors, and team captains. Our actual responsibilities have changed, and definitely have gotten more difficult, but the way we challenged ourselves has not. We all took on these challenges, settled into our new roles, and we’ve been on the same journey ever since for the past twelve years.
Through our experiences, we have become more independent and have gained the skills we need to prevail in this ever changing world. We have grown into capable men and women who, no matter what we encounter, will be motivated to challenge ourselves to do what is necessary to succeed. We won’t be affected by criticism, we won’t succumb to the status quo, and more importantly, we won’t let anybody or anything define us. Take a look around, each one of us has our own story. Each one of us has faced difficulties, dealt with devastation, and consequently been forced to make sacrifices at some point in our lives. But, even in our most difficult days, we have challenged ourselves to our greatest potential, and that is what has brought us here tonight. We are determined not to get knocked down, and when we do, we pick ourselves right back up. We are strong, passionate fighters ready to take on this next stage of our lives.
In closing, I would like to thank my parents for their love, their encouragement, and for being by my side every step of the way, even through the wee hours of the morning. I would also like to thank my brothers for not only putting up with me, but for offering me their guidance, and for paving the way to success. To my grandparents, thank you for the love and support that you have given me throughout my journey, and especially to my Papa for watching over me each and every day. Without all of you, I would not be standing here tonight.
To my fellow classmates, the Class of 2018, I would like to leave you with my Papa’s encouraging words: Roll with the punches. Embrace each opportunity that comes your way with courage, strength, and determination. And when you encounter a strong opponent or obstacle, be determined to challenge yourself to overcome it. Take the hits that life throws at you and know that you will be okay. Life is unexpected. You don’t always know what it has in store for you. Have hope, passion, and resilience. And as you leave Lynnfield High School and begin your next journey, always be up for a challenge. Roll with the punches, and take on the world.
Thank you and congratulations to the Class of 2018!