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2022 Saugus High School graduation: The Valedictory Address

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By Jason Patrick Ciampa

  I apologize in advance if I bore you with the thank yous, but there are countless people in my life who have been essential to my growth and I need to take this chance to show them that I greatly appreciate them. I would have had no shot at pushing myself this far without the love and support of my parents, my brother, and my other extended family members. At the times when I wanted to back down, they were there to cheer me up and keep me on my feet. Everybody needs that kind of support, and I am very grateful that I had them by my side. Thank you, Mom, Dad, and Justin for supporting my goal and understanding my struggle to get here.

  Now that I’m here, I want to emphasize something important. I feel that a common misconception is that Valedictorians are the “smartest” students in their entire class. Grade-point-average does NOT translate to intelligence, I am proof of that. I’m not trying to say that I lack intelligence; I like to think and hope that I am at least relatively smart. I’m simply saying that being Valedictorian, having the GPA that I have, it doesn’t mean I am smarter or better than any student graduating here today. Intelligence is an extremely fascinating concept, and I don’t believe that it can be 100% accurately or effectively measured yet. Maybe it never will be. There are so many different methods of measuring intelligence and although some are better than others, I feel like none of them really get it 100% right, like GPA.

  I gave myself the goal of reaching Valedictorian not because reaching it meant I would be intelligent, not because reaching it meant I would be “the best”, but because I knew it would keep me motivated and I felt that I needed a push. Norman Vincent Peale once said “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”. In other words, set the bar high for yourself because even if you don’t reach the top, you’ll make it higher than you ever could have imagined possible. And who knows, maybe you will even reach the top. My coaches and mentors were responsible for teaching me that lesson, among many other lessons, and now I’ll smoothly integrate this part of the speech into a thank you for them. I started taking Karate lessons when I was 4 years old and became a black belt when I was 16 years old.I thank Jason Scaduto for being an excellent mentor and for helping me to establish good moral values and discipline through Karate. I also run a little bit, not very fast, but I do run. I thank Bob Catinazzo for pushing me to a point where I ended up enjoying a sport that used to feel like real torture, and I hope to see him continue to help Saugus runners get one second faster. I also go to the gym and workout with a personal trainer, which I’m sure you could all tell because my muscles are clearly about to bulge right through this gown. I thank Joseph Ngo for being one of the greatest mentors I’ve ever had. He’s taught me almost everything I know about fitness, he’s helped to push me further than I thought possible, and he’s made me laugh while doing it. I thank him for not only being my mentor, but my friend as well.

  I strongly believe that no student should be defined by their grade point average, by their test scores, or by their class rank. The only thing that defines a person is their character, their personality, and I credit myself for being unique in that sense. I LOVE Chipotle, I eat it way more often than I probably should. I wrote a letter to Chipotle’s Headquarters a few weeks ago, because I really love Chipotle, and I asked them for a lifetime supply of free meals. I figured “Hey I bet no one ever asks them this, maybe I’ll have a chance”. They responded after a few days, and they actually gave me a free entreé. A normal person might have been happy with that, but for me, this was a heavy hit. I kept thinking “Just one? A single entreé? Is that all I’m worth?”. I used the free entreé coupon a few days later and then I was over it, and despite what Chipotle thinks, I’m proud of who I’ve become. In all seriousness, I don’t need titles or awards or grades or ranks to prove my worth. Neither do any of you. It took me a long time to realize that some of the most valuable experiences and relationships in life come from true embracement of yourself, and it was thanks to my friends that I finally understood it. Ryan Ragucci is probably the craziest and funniest person I know, and for as long as I’ve known him, he’s never been afraid of what people thought about him. Seeing him embrace his personality was inspiring to me, and once I started doing the same, that’s when I truly started to feel happier. I thank you for being you Ryan, and I hope you never change. Shoutout to Tracey and Scott Ragucci for raising a great kid, and thank you for always treating me like one of your own. I’m also lucky to have an amazing, beautiful, excellent girlfriend, Georgia Fiore, who has been with me every step of the way since we were in kindergarten. I also thank you for being you, and I appreciate you always being there for me. Shoutout to her parents Ed and Jess for being so supportive, and her sisters Grace and Shelby for always being able to put a smile on my face. I have so many more long drawn out thank yous I would like to give, but I know everyone wants to see us do the whole graduating thing so I’ll do a couple rapid fire ones. Thank you to Kyle Hogan for always laughing at pretty much anything in existence with me, no matter how stupid it is, and thank you to his parents Dawn and Sean Hogan for their hospitality and support. Thank you to everyone in the Saville Street group, you know who you are, you’re all pretty great. Thank you to Kenny Kazibwe for being such a selfless person, and for manifesting me becoming Valedictorian ever since sophomore year. Thank you to Nathan Ing, for showing me some of the best music I’ve ever heard throughout all our years of high school. I’d like to announce to the crowd that today is actually Nathan’s birthday, and it’d be awesome if we could all sing happy birthday to him. I’ll countdown and then we’re all gonna sing together, three two one-

*the best singing of happy birthday ever*

I’ll leave this stage soon, I promise, I’m sure you’re getting sick of my face and voice. One last thank you to Mr. Webb and Mr. Serino for having such an influence on my work ethic and my interests. The lessons I’ve learned from you were more valuable than you know. Alright, that’s it for my thank yous, I appreciate your time. Don’t forget to set the bar high for yourself, and I’ll finish this off with that quote I read earlier: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Thank you.

Editor’s Note: Jason Patrick Ciampa finished as the highest scholastically ranked student in the Saugus High Class of 2022 with the highest grade point average, thus earning the honor to deliver the Valedictory Address at the school’s 151st Commencement Exercises. He plans on attending Endicott College in the fall to study Computer Science.

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