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CHS graduation, audiences hear students speak

Posted on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 at 6:25 pm

Then Shelby Lewis.

“The last time I gave a speech to you all, I was sitting on my porch being filmed by my mom wondering  when I could go see my friends again. Now don’t get me wrong, a 5 month summer vacation is nothing to complain about, but I was tired of staring at google classroom all day. Looking back, I think I’d tell the Shelby in that chair that in 4 short years, the class that started high school at home would make CHS history. We have won trophy after trophy, gone on outstanding  trips across the country, and forged relationships that have brought countless memories. Some of those memories started at Chance elementary  school in classes taught by Mrs. Warbritton,  Mrs. Steinman, Mrs. Durant, Ms. Lamb, Mrs. Preston, and Mrs. Jones.

The first day of kindergarten could be described as the following: parents prying us off their legs, being forced to walk through the doors, and maybe even a few tears. Our parents left and it all went downhill from there. In all seriousness though, those were big learning moments for this class and everything that was in store for us. It was the first time we were sent off on our own and forced to meet new people, which started the foundations  of our social skills. We also learned the basics of math, spelling, reading, and science, but in reality we learned more about how to connect and build relationships  with the people we would spend the next 12 years with. But we had to get through elementary  school first.

In intermediate  school, it seemed like we were so grown up. I mean, we got to move around to different classrooms in 5th grade, even if we did have to stay on the third tile. We were famous for a day when we dressed up as a historical figure from Missouri. Looking around the cafeteria, we learned so much about the State of Missouri. Who knew such a boring state had so many interesting  people like Mark Twain, Walt Disney, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. And who will ever forget honoring our veterans by presenting our flags to someone in our life we cared for so much. We capped off intermediate  school by taking a trip to JA Biz Town to learn about the way the world works outside of school.

Middle school. The land of school sports, school dances, and the world of fine arts and clubs. We were croc wearing, instagramming, and hantis playing fools. This was where we were exposed  to classes like Spanish, finance, keyboarding, and algebra. These stretched our brains and made heads hurt, but gave a good insight into high school. Little did we know exactly what we had in store during March of 2020. We didn’t see each other until August and as if high school isn’t hard enough, we were sent home over and over again because of quarantine.

As our freshman year rolled on, we went with whatever weird flow we could find. Being quarantined, coming back, and then being sent home again was not uncommon for many of us. Eventually  it seemed like everything went back to normal.  We started algebra and Socratics, both of which most people dreaded, but taught us problem  solving and communication skills. Eventually  we got to the land of upper level language, chemistry  and advanced math classes mixed in with electives like weights and arts classes. Outside of school, we were blazing trails here at CHS. We set records, won state and national awards, and spent countless hours on community involvement  through our clubs. High school seems to be where everyone started to find what they’re passionate about. Whether it be sports, music, art, academics, business, or agriculture, there seemed to be something for everyone. Now here we are on our last day in this building  looking at a new beginning, kind of like kindergarten all over again. Maybe your parents aren’t ripping you off their leg, maybe there’s no tears or maybe there are, and no one is forcing us to walk across the stage, but I’m sure there are a few butterflies in everyone’s  stomach. In a few short months, everyone will have gone their separate ways. And like this quote by Michael Josephson, ‘Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey”, let’s all use the lessons we have learned and memories we’ve made as a stepping  stone into your new chapter. And whether that is college, technical school, work, or military, remember the journey you took to today. I wish you all the best and thank you all for enjoying this journey with me

Then came Mattie Robinson, the closer.

Good Aftenoon. I want to start by congratulating  the Centralia High School graduating class of 2024 for making it to this day. Writing a speech like this is not something I would typically do. In fact, I’m kind of looking around and wondering what am I doing up here? When I first sat down to write this speech I knew what I was doing, but in a much more real sense, I had no idea what I was doing. So buckle up and I will do my best to not do a Humphrey monotone impression.

Today is the day that many of us have been waiting for since we stepped foot in this building freshman year. We are ready to close this part of our lives and enter the “real world” – You know the place our grandparents told us crazy stories about-like swimming across the Atlantic Ocean to get to school and working 25 hours a day while making 10 cents an hour.

Mattie Robinson, closing graduation speaker at the CHS 2024 commencement

Today is the day we take the next step in our lives that we have been preparing for. We have taken countless classes to earn each credit required to graduate. Some of us stayed up late night after night studying for that big test, and some “studied” ten minutes before the test while watching TikTok on our phones. But in the end, we all made it and we’re  all getting the same diploma. Parents -you have raised us for 18 long and hard years, shaping us into the people we are today. Thank you for doing your best with us. And teachers, thank you. Thank you for teaching us and sometimes babysitting us through our four years of high school.

For the last 13 years, we’ve had our lives planned out for us. Go to school, summer break, repeat. However, our lives are about to change. Change is inevitable and can sometimes be scary. I knew someone once who, when starting middle school, was so nervous about changing schools that they faked a stomach ache everyday before school and cried for a week

because of the “pain”- that person may or may not have been me, who’s to say. I used to have a hard time with change, but I’ve since learned to embrace it. As we leave high school we are going to face new challenges, have new experiences, meet new people, and develop new interests. All of these things will change us in ways we can’t  even imagine yet. Our time here at Centralia High School has prepared us to face a future that is unwritten.

A lot has changed during our time here at school. Our teachers changed. Our friends changed. The rules changed. We made it through a worldwide pandemic, the evolution of TikTok, Mrs. Ludwig’s  Language I class, and countless other endeavors I’m sure I’m forgetting. Looking back to elementary school, life was so much easier. Back then, we worried about the little things in life: who was going to chase us at recess and what to name our ball team – in first grade we were the Centralia Pumpkins … But by senior year, we started to worry about much bigger things: maintaining grades, our post-graduation  plans, and over the past few weeks, who was going to shoot us with a water gun.

In this next phase of our lives, there will be so much change, and with that comes challenges and risks. We have to be willing to take risks to achieve our dreams. The biggest risk, however, is not taking the risk to begin with. Maybe it’s a small risk like giving a graduation speech, or a bigger risk like changing majors, or quitting a job to start a business. We must challenge ourselves to be willing to step out of our comfort zone with courage and determination.

Change is inevitable, but our roots are eternal. It’s important to realize, however, that some things should stay as they are. We as a class have been highly successful.  We have excelled in academics, athletics, music, FFA, drama, and quiz bowl to name a few. We’ve worked hard to be successful. This should not change. We’ve spent countless hours volunteering in the community and in our schools. This should not change. I’ve  lost count how many times I’ve heard a coach say “This is just a really nice group of kids.” This should not change. Our relationships, our friendships, our values, and our beliefs. These things should not change, as they are pmi of who we are.

I want to end my speech with a quote from Kristin Kreuk: “Life is about change, sometimes it’s painful, sometimes it’s beautiful, but most of the time, it’s both.”

Thank you.