Farewell Address

A lot of you mentioned that you enjoyed my Farewell Address from Convocation last week. I’ve decided to publish it here so that you all can enjoy it (at least the words):

 

Convocation Speech

 

Class of 2012, as one cohesive body of students, athletes, musicians, thinkers, doers and Raiders, this is one of the last times we assemble. It’s this, and in a few days, Commencement. And then we’ll be done with high school forever.

 

And you’ll miss it. Some of you guys will miss your time as Raiders a bit more than others, and that’s ok. But for each one of us, we have definitely left a mark and many memories at this school. You know, we’ve had many shared experiences over the past four years. And while my experience may not have matched all of yours, I know that we all had some moments to which each of us could relate. Let’s begin with August of 2008.

Do you remember your first band camp? I know that with those of us who started the summer before freshman year, we spent a good bit of it moving furniture and preparing for the renovation of the band room and marching in that August heat. And remember learning what horn swings were? We all looked like idiots for the first week. I was probably the worst offender. And I know we remember the first time that we had to Duck Walk, and the first time we played at the Back-To-School event at the fair grounds. Don’t forget—all of the music had to be memorized! Some of you all sadly still start Bob Marley to the left.

Then the first week of school. The Rickards campus was a lot bigger than any of our  middle schools.  I know most of us got lost that first week climbing the wrong flight of stairs, trying to make sense of that map. Our poor calf muscles. They didn’t know what hit them. We encountered some tough teachers. I know some of your hands still hurt if I mention “Greek Drama Notes” from Mrs. Taylor’s class. On the positive side, We adjusted to some new freedoms, like not having to stay in the cafeteria for lunch. We also made some great friends, and had some good memories. Life was still pretty simple.

Then sophomore year. Best Part? Thank God we weren’t freshmen. The whole cycle started over again. Band camp was a little bit better, because we actually knew what to do. That summer, the marching band was blessed with the opportunity to go to Washington DC and represent the State of Florida by marching in the Independence Day Parade. And we had a blast, didn’t we? We got to see fireworks on the National Mall, see the White House in-person, and even stop on a few elevators with Donald Trump.

During our sophomore year, we had an undefeated basketball team. State Champions. During our sophomore year, we became an A school for the first time in Rickards High School history. We had Challenge Day, and we all grew just a little bit closer. Some of us had our first taste of AP exams, and some went better than others. Sophomore year was a great year for Rickards. I know all of you remember the Rickards-Godby game that year. It was for the District win. It was 21-22 Godby. We had the ball. It was the 4th quarter. We were about 15 yards from the touchdown line. We missed the first three passes. And for that last pass, everything was silent. The band stopped playing, and people stopped hollering. We were just watching, waiting for the pass. It was a tense moment. We didn’t complete the pass, and Godby won that game. But it was a great game. We all came together in that moment, whether we were faculty, staff, IB, General, Swimmer or Wrestler. Our Raider Football team played hard, like they always do.

Then junior year rolled around. Now we were upperclassmen. Big Dogs. Varsity level. This year was full of transition, especially for us IB students. We got a new Coordinator, CAS Director, English teacher (yeah, you remember—we had some unforgettable moments, didn’t we?), and a new psychology teacher. Some of us got some cars—which led to a lot of fun, but more risks. We could finally OFFICIALLY go to Moe’s on Fridays. Remember eating Moe’s queso for the first time? Delicious. We got in a few more leadership roles in our Junior year.

I actually started a sport for the first time, and I had the opportunity to swim for Rickards. I thought I was gonna drown on the first day of swim practice. I’m sure some of you guys wondered if you would survive your first day of practice as well. There were great successes during our Junior year: State Champions in basketball again, the Rickards High School band got superiors again, and Challenge Day was a success. Some of us were officially inducted to The International Baccalaureate Program.

But there were also some sad moments last year. You remember Mrs. Field’s Class and Mrs. Simmons’ class? They would not give us those A’s! Or B’s either. There was some struggling going on. If it came between Glee, Pretty Little Liars or a test with those teachers, we just had to watch it on Hulu or Netflix later.

And we’ve now made it to this past year, Senior Year. As I’m sure you all can attest, Senior Year is the hardest. Not so much because of the workload, but because of all of the other things that go along with the year. The emotion and suspense awaiting college decisions and scholarship results. The leadership roles that we took on in FCA, NHS, RSS, MUN, and SGA, and taking charge in both the school and in the community. The expenses that needed to be paid. But through all of this, there was that nagging feeling in the back of your head reminding you that “This is it. There is no redo. After this year, it’s over.”

Senior Year was great. We had a great Homecoming Week, and I’d say the best one Rickards has seen in a few years. You remember that step show? Yeah, DYG took care of that, but all of the groups that performed did a great job. Prom was a success, in most respects. I know nearly everyone had a great time, plus I got to wear my top hat. Finally, I know that 42 of you have been waiting to say since the sixth grade: IB Done. No more CAS, EEs, IAs, IOPs or any other sort of dreaded IB-related acronym.

But is was fun. Heck, we’re finished, right? After years of suspense and anticipation, it ended. And now we’re here. We pretty much know where we’re going next year. We’ve heard back from the scholarship committees and the universities. And now it’s time to say good-bye. I love you guys. Farewell, underclassmen. Farewell, IB and your dreaded requirement for using pens for everything. Farewell foreign languages and AP classes. Farewell, trips to Starbucks and Moe’s. Farewell, Lindy’s, Pizza Quik, and Hungry Howie’s. Farewell, teachers and to the best administration ever!.

I want to leave you all with one thing. You’ve learned not only about things in the classroom and about your friends, but about yourself. By now, you know your strengths and weaknesses. Take what you’ve learned about yourself in the past four years, and strive to turn your weakest attribute into one of your greatest strengths. If you’re a bad singer, take some lessons. If you’re bad at sports, try joining a local team. If you’re a bad dancer, try to get some lessons. All of us have room to further improve. The learning never ends. Keep learning and keep improving! That is my challenge to each of us.

Rickards High School. No exceptions, no excuses. Good-bye, Class of 2012. It has been a great year!

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