Class of 2018 Valedictorian Porter Jones delivered the following address at the Maricopa High School commencement.
Hello, Class of 2018 and guests! I am honored not only to be addressing the faculty, family and underclassmen around us, but also to get the chance to speak to you, my friends and peers, before we go our separate ways.
Now, I also know that I’m the last thing standing between you and a senior diploma, so I’ll try to keep my comments brief and to the point. As we all shift from side to side in our seats, wondering how much longer this can go, I’m sure that we’re all also thinking the same thing: Our actions this year have spoken louder than any speech or remark could adequately describe.
While there’s not much left to be said as far as academic achievement, extracurricular honors and sheer tenacity and grit at having finally “made it to the bell” go, we — the students, teachers and family members here tonight — have seen a tremendous amount of effort put forth in order for us to be better prepared for a world that can be both exciting and scary. With that in mind, I would like to offer some quick words of advice and comfort for those next years we have along the road.
I have noticed lately that no matter where you go, people seem to think that everything in life is out to get them. If we live with this sentiment, however, our entire lives are going to be the equivalent of a nail in search of a hammer — and that’s not much of a life, is it? No joy can come from pinning unhappiness on others. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” If the sky seems to be dropping anvils on you, find a way to build a ramada, or put those anvils to good use. “The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief,”* after all!
But some might be wondering, how can we ever expect to find satisfaction in a world with people who have different opinions than us? It is my belief that we can always treat anyone, no matter how annoying or backwards they might seem at one moment, with unfeigned charity and understanding, and still maintain our own ideals. Many wise people have noted that discussing beliefs builds faith in a cause and breeds understanding between individuals. There is nothing to fear from hearing another’s ideas. Still, remain passionate about things; never find yourself in a slump of self-doubt, because there are so many good things to live for.
We live in the greatest country of all: The United States of America. Two hundred and thirty-one years ago, a group of men drafted what has become the bedrock of our freedom and liberty. Always remember the sacrifices of others that are meant for us. This will not only help us decide the choices that remain in our lives, but also help us realize that our country’s well-being rests in our hands. I invite us to listen to George Orwell’s advice, which proclaims that “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Use your abilities to search for truth, and take great pride in living in a land where “a better tomorrow” isn’t just a buzzword. Take pride in living in the “land of the free and the home of the brave!”
Lastly, I cannot leave tonight without expressing my enduring gratitude for the many role models we have had to look up to in these four years and even further before. The material for any outstanding graduation speech has really already been given to us by the leaders, confidants and supports who have provided us with morality, affection and the best sermons: good examples.
I want to personally thank my close friends, teachers, family and God above for the many blessings that have been poured out on us these four years, and relish the thought that we are living here, now! We have infinite opportunity before us, and as we travel through life I hope we will always maintain optimism and enthusiasm for it.
And here we are, five minutes older, and still waiting for a conclusion; and here I am, still drawing out every second, since the moment I end this we will bid this campus good-bye for the last time. Don’t fret about what the future has in store for us — that’s how one dies an early death. If we remember time management, work ethic, respect, honesty, patriotism, compassion and living within our means, we will go far. I have faith in every one of you, as I hope you all have in yourselves.
Tonight, I would like to end by leaving the charge of making the best of all the time, relationships, means and talents you will find in life to you, as well as the capability to fulfill your purpose in life. Good night, Class of 2018, and God bless us all.
Porter Jones was the valedictorian of the Maricopa High School Class of 2018. Watch other highlights of the ceremony.
*(Othello by William Shakespeare, Act I, Scene 3)
This address appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.