To Jordan grads: ‘Who will you be tomorrow?’
Rachel Hill, valedictorian of Jordan High School’s Class of 2014, told her classmates on Wednesday to follow the advice of talk show host Ellen DeGeneres:
Follow your passions. Be true to yourself.
“Don’t follow someone else’s path,” Hill said. “Unless you’re lost in a forest and see a path.”
About 380 seniors were expected to graduate during the evening ceremony at Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. Good thing it was indoors too: Before commencement, it was hot outside and while diplomas were handed out, a storm raged overhead.
Hill gave a sometimes self-deprecating speech, noting that she was invited to give a speech because of her grade-point average while plenty of other students deserved attention.
“There are some amazingly skilled people in this class,” she said.
She told her fellow students that they shouldn’t let others define them, that change is inevitable and that they shouldn’t take themselves too seriously.
And don’t worry if you don’t know exactly where life’s taking you yet, she said.
“The truth is, no one knows where their path may lead,” Hill said.
Anna Dekle, the class salutatorian, quoted the Broadway musical "Wicked" in her speech to the crowd: "Who can say if we've changed for the better? Because we have known each other, we have been changed for good."
She encouraged classmates to savor the moment "and the four years of moments that brought us here."
Margaret Gunn, senior class president, offered thanks to parents who “were there when we needed them, but gave us space to grow on our own.” She appreciated teachers who helped students meet and exceed expectations. And she thanked coaches and advisers who taught leadership and dedication.
“The future is what you make it, and I know each one of you will make it great,” Gunn told her classmates.
Principal Jerome Leathers told students to be proud of accomplishing one of life’s major milestones, but that a new journey waits.
“Now the question is: Who will you be tomorrow?” he said.
He urged his departing Jordan Falcons to “soar high” and dream big.
“The best way to chase a dream is to never quit,” Leathers said. “Eventually, the dream stops running from you and becomes a reality.”
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