Presenting the GFHS Class of 2016
The Granite Falls School District held the 2016 Granite Falls High School Commencement exercises on Friday, June 3, presenting 98 students to hundreds and hundreds of proud parents, friends and excited community members.
Tyler Arp, 2016 Valedictorian, shared his journey saying,
“Good evening, Granite Falls High School Class of 2016 and congratulations on finally getting here.
“Before I begin I would like to thank all of the family, friends, community members and staff that are here today. This is a special moment for each and every one of us. Also, a special thank you needs to go to my parents for supporting me in all of my endeavors, all of the teachers I have had, especially Mrs. Lund, Mrs. Coulson, Mr. Dinwiddie, and Mr. Gessaman, for helping me out along the way, and Hailey Murphy for helping me prepare this speech while I was stressing over it.
“Now on with the speech! When I was given the honor of being named Valedictorian of my graduating class, I knew that I had a lot of responsibility riding upon my shoulders. I had to prepare a speech to give in front of 1,800 people and inspire the 104 graduates on the floor before me. Having never given a speech to a group larger than a single classroom, I had no idea where to begin. So, in order to prepare the best speech I possibly could, I did what any great mind would do: I googled it. This google search turned up a lot of different places claiming to have the best speech ideas and the perfect template and ideas on how to be impressive and instructions for ways to make it short and sweet. But the consensus from all of my research was that I had to speak on the most important thing I learned in high school. In my opinion, the most important thing I learned is that the mitochondria are the powerhouse of a cell. But seriously, the most important thing I learned in high school is you have to be true to yourself. Looking back on the past four years, we have all been trying to figure out who we are. That search doesn’t stop after we throw our caps. We, as people, are constantly evolving.
“Looking back to our freshman year, it is remarkable how much we changed. On Link Day we dressed up as pirates, gag comedians and wizards, with no idea what high school would bring. In our sports, many of us realized we were not god’s gift to the world and that a 250 pound senior could hit you really hard. As we carried on through the year, the boys had to find the courage to ask girls to Homecoming and the girls had to figure out how to walk in high heels. For BOTC, people took a dive off the deep end, taking charge of our events and leading us to a last place finish.
“But the woes of high school did not end there. People encountered their failing math grades, endless days of SAM training, and their first experience with the tragedies of Shakespeare. We all thought our lives were just as tragic as Romeo’s and Juliet’s.
“But now we look on those days and laugh at our clueless selves. As seniors, we know how to drive cars, win BOTC – twice – and write a five page essay in the six hours before it is due. In the time between our freshman and senior years some of our friendships grew closer and stronger, while others faded into oblivion. Some of us even created new ones and that has made all of the difference. Our friends and the people we surrounded ourselves with helped us experience life, from bonfires to haunted corn mazes to Shell food. And it is through these life experiences that we piece our identities together, discovering who we really are. This is what the high school experience is all about.
“While some of us have reached this pivotal point in our lives, others have not – and that is okay. But once you find your identity, embrace it. Happiness can only be achieved when you are living as your true self. Trying to change who you are will result in transparent actions and dissatisfaction. So wherever life is taking you, whether it is the military, college, trade school, the workforce, or that gap year exploring Europe, remember who you have found yourself to be, and search for that niche in which you belong.
“Class of 2016, go forth into the real world. Make your lives what you want them to be. Do not live behind the stereotype of Granite Falls. Our hometown does not limit what we can achieve, but supplies us with a place to fall back on, a place to call home. Remember those who have gotten you to where you are today and appreciate those who will help you in the future.
Remember you will leave a mark on every life that you touch. Remember to be true to yourself.
With gracious appreciation, Salutatorian Sierra Goss addressed the staff, students and audience.
“To start off, l would like to thank everyone who came here tonight to see us all pass through this amazing check point in our lives. Due to many of you, teachers, parents, friends and so many more; you have helped us in every possible way you could, to get us to this point in our lives. Your guidance and leadership has not gone unnoticed. From all of us, I thank you.
“And to my graduating class … Guess what? We made it! All of you guys sitting in front of me, you did it! You are now officially adults! Scary right? l know I’m nervous. What lies ahead? What does the future hold for us? No one can truly answer these questions but you. You define your future. You define the way your life turns out after today.
“Our years spent in school have shaped us. It has forced us to change, to grow and to develop into amazing, unique individuals. We have learned so much about ourselves in the past few years. We have learned how to interact in a real society, we have learned where we fit in and the type of people we enjoy. Most don’t realize the importance of this, but the people we have surrounded ourselves with, the classes we chose to take, the challenges we faced – these are the things that will help build the rest of our lives.
“Who knows – this might be the biggest accomplishment in your life. You might spend the rest of your life in Granite Falls, never leaving, never taking great opportunities. However, I hope this isn’t true. I hope you all go out and experience life, thrive and flourish as people in this society – I hope that you all get to travel or party or fall in love. I hope that you leave this school and make the best of your life.
“Don’t let the person you were here hold you back. Don’t ever tell yourself you can’t take the best chances you are given. You deserve it. As a person, as a human being, you matter. You deserve happiness.
“We leave this school today in search of the person we will become, in search of the life we will live. So… Class of 2016 … Make it great! Go out with a bang! Live life to the fullest!
“Thank you! And Good night!”