02. We as a Class

tldr: i made my principal cry from six feet apart

One of the most universal K-12 experiences is being forced to write down your goals. Promises to graduate when the time comes. Setting academic standards for yourself. At the very least, this teaches students the power of putting thought into their future. Our futures are dynamic: shifting and changing every second of everyday. Whether your goal is to become the top ranked in your senior class, or simply to make it through the four years, writing it down makes it somewhat concrete.

My goal, freshman year of high school, was to be a valedictorian. I was told to be easier on myself, be more realistic, and to not set the bar so high right out of the gate. But damn, I wanted to give a speech in front of friends and family. Speaking in front of people has never particularly been an issue for me- in fact I jump for the opportunity to do so. In academic decathlon, getting to give speeches was a dream come true– and one day I would love to give a TedTalk (the topic is uncertain, but the hope is there).

When the quarantine was announced, I felt my goal from four years prior slip through the cracks. A while ago, one of my friends told me that the way that she grieves is by writing a letter. Whether this a letter to a person or the void- it is a way to get it out there. So I wrote the speech I would have given.

And then I was told, that I get to record my speech for a virtual graduation. With a week to prepare. I had to shorten it and speed it up, and it wasn’t how I pictured it happening four years ago, but it was better than nothing. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Let me tell you: there is no way to anticipate the pain you feel when you see your principal cry from six feet apart.

I don’t know when this video goes out, or how many people will actually listen to it- but I’ve attached my speech here. You know, because so many people will be reading my blogs of course (*insert sarcasm here*). Here it is: my Valedictorian Speech given May 1st, 2020. The brackets are put in place to cover up the names of my high school and friends, but the actual names were used in the real thing.

“I found out what a “senior quote” was in eighth grade, and ever since then I have been collecting a list of potential senior quotes to use in my senior year to make sure I thought it through. As graduation approached, I was looking through my quotes in order from ninth grade til now, and I realized there was a slight shift in the quotes that I believe reflect the [high school] experience.

Quote #1: “Wit beyond measure is man’s Greatest treasure.”-Luna Lovegood

See, freshman year, I had planned out the next four years of my life:  Devote myself entirely to my work. Go ahead of the class and finish my graduation requirements early. Leave for college. My mom told me I would never want to leave high school. I never knew how right she’d be. Because:

Quote #2: “You don’t have to be blood to be family.” 

See, Freshman year I met [my best friend]; and Sophomore year [other best friends] came along. I became close with the academic decathletes and the class of 2020, and had teachers that pushed the boundaries of my education. That is when I knew it was going to be hard to let go of [my high school]. When all of the sudden, one day I found myself looking around an advisory room and thinking how amazing the class of 2020 is. Because if [my high school] taught us to do anything it was how to:

Quote #3 “Believe in yourself. Try. Do good.”- Mr Feeny

People have the potential to be powerful. A huge part of this potential is unlocked when teachers can teach students to believe in themselves. To go out on a limb and advocate for their college classes. To get a good education, and believe that one day they can make it and find happiness, however one defines it. At the very least, they taught us to Do Good- or as [my principal] would say- Do No Harm. From spreading kindness with clothespins and hearts to making pink friendship bracelets for everyone- the class of 2020 Does Good, and in my book, that means we have done, are doing, and will continue to do amazing things.

So at the end I had pages of quotes, but I picked one I believe sums up my four years:

Quote #4 “How strange, and how lovely, it is to be anything at all.”- John Green

This quarantine has physically separated us. Nonetheless, it has made me realize how we remain connected. We as a class have grown into ourselves and our identities. We, as a class, have changed locations every year since we have gotten here: from trailers, a single advisory classroom, and finally being the first seniors fully located at [our new site]. We as a class did everything in our power to give opportunities to every student, every year, from prom night to grad night. And we as a class have finally made it. 

“How strange, and how lovely, it is to be” a part of the class of 2020. A part of a tight-knit community. A part of a family. Thank you.”

My new goal: Get to give a speech for MIT’s Class of 2024.


Published by Paige Bright

Hi- my name is Paige Alexandria Bright. I am a rising junior at MIT interested in mathematics and philosophy. I have been writing this blog since the beginning of COVID. Lets see where this goes.

2 thoughts on “02. We as a Class

    1. I love Sleeping at Last! There are a lot of versions of this quote. In fact, John Green was quoting Neutral Milk Hotel’s song with the line “How strange it is to be anything at all,” but I really like his addition of “and how lovely.” Sentences with little side thoughts separated by commas, as can be slightly seen in my own writing style, I think are *chef’s kiss*.


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