All Phoenix graduation photos by Debra J. Groom
Valedictorian Ian Evans’ speech:
If school was a game, we won.
I would like to take a moment to welcome everyone to the class of 2014 graduation. Superintendent Belfield, Principal Molloy, Mr. Rudy and the members of the Board of Education, fellow students, parents, family and friends, we are extremely grateful that you are able to join us to celebrate this milestone in our lives.
Looking back on our journey, we can see how much we have really changed.
Entering JCB High School in September of 2010, we felt so small compared to the rest of the school. We didn’t see seniors then — we saw adults, some with full beards, and we saw ourselves still as just kids.
Yet now, here we are. We are those big bad seniors with full beards, for the guys at least, and for girls, well, some are taller. The last four years have given us time to grow and prepare for the next stage of our lives. Whether we continue on to college, join the workforce, or serve our country in the armed forces, high school has allowed us to determine what to do next in life.
Teachers and parents have been there, guiding and pushing us through it all, to make sure we are ready for what lies ahead. Without them, we would not be here today, walking across the stage, graduating from John Columbus Birdlebough High School.
Throughout the last 13 years, we have all taken away different experiences.
High school has taught me to work hard for the things I want. As Thomas Jefferson said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
If you don’t put in the effort, you can’t expect results. What you have taken away from your experiences could be completely different.
My fellow graduates, you may have learned how to work together with others, how to be a leader, or what subjects you enjoyed and excelled in. Or maybe you learned all about sports from sitting in study hall, watching SportsCenter.
Everyone will take something different out of it, but I still believe hard work to achieve goals is something we have all accomplished and can use in our future.
When I look back to this past April, a specific memory always comes to mind to prove that hard work truly pays off.
For the past five years, I have spent hours upon hours drumming and playing with both the Marching Band and Winter Drum Line. In these last five years, not once has our Winter Drum Line, or any other drum line for that matter, beaten Victor.
This year, though, I felt the need to do something special. As a senior, I wanted to go out on top. Throughout the entire season, I did everything I could, knowing it was my last season.
I pushed others, and others pushed me, knowing that the final goal was attainable.
The journey was filled with all kinds of ups and downs. After spending entire Saturdays in a gym with each other, we could feel the frustration and annoyance. Just like a sports team during a hard workout, an actor trying to memorize lines, or even just a student finding the strength to get out of bed every morning for school, we began to question if it was really worth it.
Exhausted and irritated, I knew I just wanted to go home and sleep, but there’s always that person that helps you push through. Whether it be a fellow teammate, a friend, coach, instructor or a parent, someone is there to remind you that you’re not suffering alone and that the final outcome is worth the pain.
So, just like any other activity, we pushed and saw our desired goal achieved. When championship weekend came, we knew we had to put in the work and were ready to win.
We went out and performed what we had worked so hard to make, and left everything we had and more on the floor. The hard work paid off and we ended up first in the state.
Class of 2014, it is now our time to shine. From this moment forward, we have a new beginning, a fresh start, to do with what we choose. What you do with it is up to you, but I encourage you to never give up and always work hard for what you want.
We, as a class, have worked hard to accomplish our main goal: “winning” high school. Now that we’ve achieved this, it is time to take the next step toward our next goal. For those of us who don’t know exactly what step to take next, or if you don’t have your entire life planned out; don’t worry, you are not alone.
That’s why this next step exists, to allow us to discover what we really want to do.
I remember a college discussion I had with Mr. Heffernan. He told our class that most of us would change our original major. We still need to pick that major, or college, or find that job to help begin the journey.
Not knowing what we want to do is perfectly normal; I mean, we’re only 17 and 18 years old. Up until about a week ago, we’ve had to raise our hands to go to the bathroom or to get a drink. We lived our lives dictated by a bell, by an agenda, by an announcement. And it’s what we’ve known for the last 13 years.
Now it’s time to take what we’ve learned, and use it for every stage of the future, searching and finding that passion that drives us. I just ask one thing of you, Class of 2014: when you do find that passion, stick with it and don’t settle for anything else.
I want to leave you with these anonymous words of wisdom: “I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings.
“You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”