Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rocky's Eighth Grade Valedictorian Speech

Déjà vu. Last night, almost exactly two years after Sean graduated as the valedictorian of his middle school class and after a year of hard work, keeping the perfect 4.0 GPA, Rocky followed in Sean's footsteps and became the valedictorian of his eight-grade class at MCAA.

During the graduation ceremony he first played Rondo alla Turca (Mozart) on the piano (perfectly) and then he gave a very nice speech. There was no promotion ceremony for Sean (he is now a junior), but he also kept a straight A score up for yet another year. Needless to say, some really proud parents here...

Here is the entire speech:

Good evening and welcome, faculty, distinguished guests, family, and friends. My name is Rocky Lubbers and I'm really exited to speak to you tonight.

A Zen Master once said: "When you reach the top, keep climbing." I particularly like this quote, because it is very true on so many levels. To me, this means that we are never done, but in a good way. You're never too old to learn something new. The question is: how can we keep climbing? And at the same time, how can we enjoy the ascent?

I remember when I just turned 10 years old. My brother and I signed up to run a half marathon in Lake Tahoe. The day before, the weather was very nice, but on the morning of the run it started snowing and there was ice on the road. We started slowly and kept running together. The early miles were easy, but then came the infamous “Hill from Hell.” From what I heard from my dad who ran it before, it was a killer. I wasn’t too scared however, because I knew when we reached the top, we would keep climbing. And so we did. We finished the half marathon in 2 hours and 55 minutes.

This year, my physical science teacher Ms. Ellsmore explained to me that an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted on by an unbalanced force. This means that, in nature, an object can either move forward or backward, up or down, but ultimately never stay in the same place (at least not for too long). And so is it in life, school, and everything else. We should strive to be going up and forward, and to learn something new, each and every day.

Climbing the highest mountains in the world is not a risk-free operation. You don’t just stroll to the top of Mount Everest, or casually walk up K2. In fact, you can't even take a helicopter to some of the worlds highest peaks—the only way to get there is with a lot of concentrated effort. And yet, every year, adventurous climbers take on the challenge. Why? They do this, as John F. Kennedy once said, “Not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” For the next years—my high school period—I have some bold and challenging plans: both academically and otherwise. Before I am 16, I want to run a full marathon (like my brother did last month) and I want to continue to do well in school and learn all there is to learn.

In his famous “mountaintop speech," Martin Luther King, Jr. told a story of how he was asked in which age he wanted to live. He could pick any age in history, and although some sounded very tempting, he finally picked a “few years in the second half of the 20th century”—the age in which he lived. I think today—in the first half of the 21st century—is an equally exciting time. Not everything is perfect these days. We have wars, natural disasters, and some rough economic times, but I don’t think I would trade this age for any other in history myself. We have so many opportunities and technological advances and if we can work together to get the most out of it, we will be able to do amazing things.

As Martin Luther King said: “Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be.”

Thank you.

Next up: the Tahoe Relay--this weekend!
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