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2023 Saugus High School graduation: The Valedictory Address

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By Jay Patel


Before I begin my speech, I want to give recognition to the people who have supported me throughout my journey. I want to thank my mom and dad, who have always been there for me and believed in my dreams. Without the sacrifices they have made, my sister and I would not have had the opportunity to dream big. I also want to thank my sister, who has been a positive role model in my life, and someone who never fails to support my decisions. And before you think: how in the world is it possible for someone to compliment their sibling? It’s not. We argue about things all the time, and I somehow lose the majority of the time. But we always have each other’s backs no matter what. I want to thank my grandmother, who is no longer with us, but has made me into an assiduous person. I know she is watching from above with a smile.

I want to thank a few of my friends: Maxwell, Alex, Cameron, Brendan, and Chahid, for sticking with me and with one another throughout these four years. Usually, during high school, relationships with your friends tend to change a lot, but I am glad that the six of us were able to build good chemistry with each other. Because of you guys, high school has been a memorable experience. And last but not least, from the teacher who held afterschool study sessions to ensure that we mastered the DBQ, to the teacher who created daily videos explaining the steps to solving challenging derivatives and integrals, I want to thank the teachers who put in that extra effort for our success.

Congratulations to the class of 2023 for the work and dedication you have put in over the last twelve years and for making it to this occasion. And to the audience, we are the last class to have walked through the asbestos-filled hallways of the old building, and we sure were a resilient group. We transferred buildings while simultaneously overcoming the challenges of a pandemic, and those moments are something to be proud of.

Now, if you haven’t caught on, this is not a traditional valedictorian speech. Usually, these types of speeches contain long dialogues, packed with verbose reflections highlighting the struggles the student underwent. But to be honest, after reflecting on my time in high school, I did not struggle as much. Yes, I took everything from my classes to my assignments seriously, but I also had a lot of fun alongside it. From getting absolutely destroyed in Super Smash Bros and Mario Cart to playing 2K and Fifa, we capitalized on every moment because we knew this would be the last time. And we did this in school. Yes, we somehow found a way to plug in and play Xbox. Now, I do not advise the underclassmen to do this, and their main priority should be doing well in school, but that should not restrict you to have a little fun here and there. Writing long speeches is also not my style. I don’t like the idea of boring my audience with a lengthy speech full of metaphorical anecdotes to get a point across.

Therefore, I decided to forge my own way of relaying a meaningful message to my class, and ironically, that is my message: to make your own path. As simple and cliche as it may sound, it is something that can easily be forgotten. In a world where social media and societal expectations reign supreme in everyone’s lives, it influences people to generalize their happiness or success with popular perceptions. Instead of creating, we tend to follow others’ paths to achieve this so-called generalized success and happiness and become something we are not meant to be. In this process, you stray further and further away from your goal. However, in reality, it is the opposite that works. Sometimes you have to give up on who you want to be in order to become who you’re meant to be. I failed in trying not to get philosophical in this speech, but it is an important piece of wisdom to think about.

Creating your own path is more complex than it seems because it requires self-reflection, which is hard to do in a world full of distractions. But this is the perfect time to start. In a few moments, we will be getting our diplomas and closing a chapter in our lives. This moment, just like our experiences in school, will become bittersweet memories that will last with you forever. These memories will help you reflect and forge a path of your own. Once made, all that there is left to do is to take the steps.

  (Editor’s Note: Jay Patel finished as the highest scholastically ranked student in the Saugus High Class of 2023, thus earning the honor to deliver the Valedictory Address at the school’s 152nd Commencement Exercises. He plans on attending Boston University next fall, where he will study Computer Science.)

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