Four years ago, I had wanted to be the one to give an amazing speech on a Sunday in June in front of all my classmates, family, friends and community members as the valedictorian of the Class of 2020. Although I put in an extreme amount of effort to reach that goal, I fell short. But that does not mean I don’t have anything I want to say to everyone. So here it is: a sort of thank you and farewell speech to Chilton High.
Nine months ago, we seniors never would have expected this. We never thought that the final months of our high school careers would be spent using our bedroom desks and the internet more than usual to communicate. No one expected to lose a season of athletics or academic competition, prom or any of those little moments with friends that you somehow remember years later.
Yes, I miss being able to play softball in the extreme Wisconsin weather or have in-person meetings with my clubs. Yes, I miss being able to mess around with friends in the halls or hear the low brass section puffing away at some rendition of “Seven Nation Army” before band class. And, yes, COVID- 19 caused the school’s closure and cut my senior year short, but it doesn’t mean we won’t remember those little moments.
We all will have those times when we remember how some people went all out for Homecoming dress-up days or what it felt like sitting on the hard bleachers in the crowded gym watching Mrs. Moehn and Ms. Kochan have a lip sync battle. Down the road, time and time again, those memories will resurface, and it’ll be a treat to just sit back and think about those times.
To lose the end of my senior year felt like the end. It still feels that way at times. But at the same time, it made me appreciate everything Chilton already has given me. Chilton schools gave me an education that allows me to go to the honorable UW-Madison this fall and then transfer to the even more prestigious Marquette University next year. Chilton athletics set me on the path to obtain my Masters of Athletic Training degree. And it was the Chilton community’s incredible support of my classmates, my family, my friends and me that has given all of us something to be proud of.
It’s comforting to know that everyone is on our side. From celebrity commencement ceremonies and radio tributes to the Class of 2020 to the small town of Chilton coming together to collect enough money to make 2’ x 3’ posters of each CHS graduate, how can we not be grateful to still be recognized for everything we have worked for our entire lives even when life as we know it has been changed forever? On behalf of my fellow 2020 graduates, thank you.
Maybe I am biased as a graduating senior, but I truly believe the Class of 2020 has to be one of the strongest groups of young adults ever. And Oprah thinks so, too. In a speech she posted on Facebook and Instagram, she said, “I know you may not feel like it, but you are, indeed, the chosen class for such a time as this.”
Seniors, to have lost so much and to still be able to keep our eyes on a brighter tomorrow, it’s admirable.
Since I am writing some sort of speech, I would like to take a second to thank a few people. To my parents, siblings and other family members, thank you. I know things aren’t always easy, and sometimes, it’s hard to get along, but thank you for taking the time to come and support me in whatever I was doing and making sure that I was cared for.
To my friends, thank you for being a support system for me. Thank you for helping me create memories. You worked through tough times with me and filled the past number of years with tons of unforgettable times.
To my coaches, teachers, mentors and all other community members, thank you. If it wasn’t for your help pushing me to my limits, I never would have known all of the things I am capable of. And because of all of your support for me personally and for all of my classmates, the 2020 graduating class has become a group of remarkable adults ready to tackle the world.
As the editor-in-chief of the incredible staff of The Prowler the past two years and an ambitious reporter the previous two, I thank all of you who have ever read my articles. I would be lying if I said writing this final piece has not been bittersweet. It hasn’t been easy opening up to the public about things that are personal to me, but it has been empowering to hear through the grapevine all the wonderful comments about my writing abilities.
Seniors, we’re here. We’ve made it. It’s been tough, but it’s also been quite an adventure. This pandemic is sure to be a memory we carry with us forever. But let me remind you for the final time, we are strong. We are all destined to do great things and be amazing people. Don’t let the world stop you from becoming those things. Congratulations to my fellow 2020 Chilton High graduates and to all those who are graduating this year! We’ve earned it.