So, I have the prestigious honor of being Buffalo Gap’s Class of 2016 Salutatorian, right behind my best friend Shelby as Valedictorian, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. Along with this privilege comes the task of giving a speech at graduation. But the thing is, if I said what I wanted to say, I probably would get kicked out of the ceremony and not be able to walk the stage since my speech comes before we get our diplomas, so I decided to say it on here. Without further ado, here’s my Unofficial Salutatorian speech:
Good morning Class of 2016!
It’s my honor to be this class’s salutatorian. This morning I wanted to share with you all a little bit about how I got here. Ever since elementary school, I’ve been a perfectionist. My entire life I’ve strived to get all A’s, and in fact, on my final high school transcript, every single grade is an A+ besides for my A in English 11AA. The funny thing is, looking back on my grades, yeah I’m happy I could do that, and it certainly opened up opportunities like the chance to stand on this stage and receive scholarships from Liberty, but it’s not my biggest achievement. Because what does a sheet with lots of letters and plus signs mean in the real world anyway?
The thing I want to talk to you about today is my biggest life “accomplishment,” if that’s what you want to call it. It was coming to know my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The summer after my ninth grade year, I went on a beach retreat with my youth group and heard some amazing speakers and experienced worship like I never had before. AND, I understood for the first time in my life that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Wait, so Christianity isn’t just about going to church on Sunday’s and following a bunch of rules?! Right then and there, my life changed in a way that I will never get back. I learned what it really meant to be a Christian and love the Lord. I started reading my Bible, and my behavior and values slowly changed, not by my own will or because I wanted God’s favor, but because I had a genuine desire to grow closer to my Father.
The next summer, I felt the Lord calling me to go on the international mission trip with my church to Nicaragua even though everything in me was originally telling me no. But I listened, and because of that trip, I have ever since had a passion to go into missions.
Over the next two years, God shaped me and changed me so much into the person I am today. He’s taught me to live in the moment and how to love deeply, and he has never failed to show me his everlasting love. And it’s been the most beautiful journey full of highs and lows and smiles and tears, but most of all, full of an everlasting joy that no one can take from me.
This fall I will be pursuing a global studies degree at Liberty University so I can hopefully go into the mission field full time, thanks to that time God called me to step out into the great unknown to proclaim his name to the lost. And that’s what I want to do right here, right now in my very last moments as a high school student.
If you’ve never felt the joy I’m talking about that comes from having a relationship with Jesus, please don’t waste another day. Following Christ isn’t easy in our modern world, I’m not going to lie, but it is SO worth it. My relationship with God has been the only thing that has gotten me through some of the rough patches these past few years and is what will sustain me in the years to come. If you’ve lived your whole life going to church or even staying away from the church, but have never really talked to God, try it now. Tell God what you’re really feeling. He already knows your heart and wants you to reciprocate his love. Please reach out to me or a trustworthy Christian friend or pastor if you want to give your life to Christ or just learn more about what I’m talking about. It’s the best decision you will ever make in your life, and I thank God for giving me the honor to say this to you today. Thank you.