Guest Post: A Valedictorian’s View

20150529_173904Administration, faculty, staff, parents, family, and friends, I think I speak for everyone here when I say thank you for all your support these past four years. Your individual attention, long hours, and encouragement made it possible for us be here today. Mom and Dad, you have especially shown me unwavering support—they’d kick me off the stage before I could even begin to express my gratitude, so I’ll leave it as a simple thank you.

Okay Class of 2015, I know its graduation night, but I have a pop quiz for you: What is unbreakable, up for a good adventure, comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes, never breaks a sweat, and has a lifetime guarantee? If you haven’t figured it out yet—it’s the HydroFlask. One report says that 9 out of 10 people carry one regularly, and we’ve all noticed these colorful steel water jugs under desks, on lab tables, and hanging from backpacks. With so many of us cradling our precious HydroFlasks, I figured there must be more to these things than just a container for water. Come on Expos Writing kids, let’s dive into the symbolism of our Hydros.

Hug your Hydro like a baby, although many of us probably already do, because it’s a reminder to embrace our individual achievements. No two are alike—will your life be a bright pink, wide mouth, 32 ounce kind of life? Maybe the subdued green, flip-top 18 ounce is more what you’re after. Our HydroFlasks are kind of like our successes—each one unique to us. You can’t compare one Hydro to another, just like you can’t compare one life’s work to the next. Some wins are pretty obvious—like making it to this field here tonight. Others, however, aren’t so universal. Success is not one-size fits all—there’s no one “right” way to be successful in life. Each one of us, class of 2015, are successful when we find a purpose—doing what we were created to do, and doing it well. Hug your Hydro because it reminds us to be comfortable with our own individual gifts, achievements, and successes, knowing that our lives are as individualized as our HydroFlasks.

As we take what we’ve learned here at Moanalua out into the world, we start a fresh chapter of our lives, and this time, we have the pen. We have the opportunity to take control and make deliberate choices—don’t let someone else write your life for you. The idea of not having our lives controlled by the mystical and random bell schedules here at Moanalua is a little scary—especially when it seemed like just yesterday when we were all going crazy for Silly Bands. I could give the formal definition of fear from Webster’s dictionary, but for me, true fear is that moment we’ve all experienced and dread—the sound of a Hydro crashing to the ground.

We’ve all been there—you’re in class, and you hear the sudden, sharp clang of metal meeting concrete. Fear washes over you, and maybe you frantically feel for your own Hydro just to make sure it’s still okay. The class goes quiet and then lets out a collective groan of agony over the fallen HydroFlask. For me, the worst part is having to pick it up and assess the damage. You turn it over, and there it is—a big ol’ dent.

Yet still, hug your Hydro, even when it has dents. Like our HydroFlasks, we’re all going to fall. You haven’t met the mark, you missed that deadline, you tried your best but still came up short. We’re all scared of failure, sure, but we have a responsibility to use the education we’ve been given to the best of our abilities. It’s silly to have a HydroFlask and not use it because we’re afraid of dents, and it isn’t different with our education. We must go forth with the tools and knowledge that our teachers have gifted us and reach for our goals, aspire to dream, pursue our purpose. Yes, they’ll be dents and dings along the way, but that shouldn’t keep us from exploring this great adventure called life. As Ms. Frizzle said, “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”

Graduating class of 2015, congratulations. We made it through all the ups and downs and left turns of high school, and are ready to find our own success in the next stage of life. You remember that quiz at the beginning of this speech? I told you the answer was a HydroFlask, but if you think about it, it could also be the class of 2015. Although we definitely sweated these past couple days while our Hydros stayed cool, we are also unbreakable. We are individualized. We are up for a good adventure. And we, class of 2015, can make our own lifetime guarantee to live gratefully for all Moanalua has given us.

So the next time you see your HydroFlask, remember, and hug it proudly.

Thank You.


Haley Addison is the daughter of Mickey and Betsy Addison. She was the Valedictorian speaker at the Commencement ceremony for the Moanalua High School Class of 2015. This speech is published with her permission.

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