CLASS of 2020: ’I don’t mean success as the world defines it’
Across the Emerald Coast, top high school students are giving speeches in empty auditoriums in front of cameras that will offer up a digital version of this year’s graduation.
The Daily News invited those students selected to speak at their high school graduations to send their speeches for publication. We hope you enjoy a peek at some of the area’s best and brightest students.
Emily Ammons, Crestview
Crestview High School
Congratulations, Class of 2020!
Some of us may not have expected to graduate at all, but none of us expected to graduate like this.
However, I feel as though this historic moment is quite fitting for our class. One that will surely go down in history, not only for graduating in spite of a global pandemic (short pause) cutting our senior year 9 weeks short, but also for finding success at such a young age.
And I don’t mean success as the world defines it, based solely on numbers, whether they be the ones in your bank account or on your Facebook page. I mean success as a way of life, a perspective that life really is one big adventure and we're here to live it.
American Historian David McCullough once said, “Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”
Now, if you graduated fifth grade at Northwood Elementary with this class, you'd know our class song was “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus.
If only we knew back then how much more exciting that climb would become. And that word “exciting” entails good and bad adventures along the way, both of which we embraced with an eagerness to explore the ups and downs of this life — so that when we reached this point: the peak of our childhood, we could look back and say that we not only climbed this mountain, but we got to see the world in doing so.
Together, we experienced trials as small as graded busywork to the loss of friends and family, and miracles as great as this ceremony, to getting a free day to play cards during English class.
The Class of 2020 has climbed every mountain that came its way. Some of the time it was to get a couple extra credit points in Dubose’s class, but we climbed it nonetheless. And for that, I congratulate all of you.
But, I also would like to charge you with a challenge for the future. Live an abundant life.
And this is different from living life to the fullest, taking risks that might just end up being worth it. An abundant life is one that is satisfied, complete, and more than glass half full or glass half empty, but an overflowing cup. It is one that finds joy in trial, peace in chaos, and love in every aspect of life.
And I have found John 10:10 to be very true when it comes to seeking an abundant life. In this verse, Christ says he came that we may have life and have it abundantly. Living life with Christ by my side is what has allowed me to find abundant life. His presence in the valleys, on the mountaintops, and everywhere in between makes the climb that I was talking about earlier so much more amazing, because He is there to lift you up in times of weakness and show you whose you are when you feel lost in feelings of worthlessness.
George Katzman is an amazing example of a man who has climbed the mountain of life with Christ by his side, and how that can absolutely change your life.
While laying on a hospital bed after being diagnosed with terminal cancer and retiring from his dream job, his words were, “The ministry opportunities have been so amazing. It's shocking!”
Because of Jesus, he saw opportunity in the midst of opposition, and my hope for all of you is that you also will find yourself in such a fulfilled future that even when faced with extreme opposition, you can look it in the eye and say, “There is opportunity in this.”
Before we go our separate ways, I would like to thank the many teachers and staff members here at Crestview High School that guided each and every one of us during this adventure. We all love you more than words can say.
Friends and family of our graduates, you also deserve all the love in the world for being with us during such an interesting time in our lives. Thank you.
Seniors, I hope that our unique circumstances are not remembered as wasted time, but that we ingrain these memories and relationships from high school into our hearts and minds, and never stop caring about them.
As we move forward, to college or into a career, continue to embrace the climb.
Choose to seek an abundant life. Keep seeing life as one big adventure and be present to live it.
I wish you all the best. Thank you!
If your student is a top grad who would normally be speaking at graduation, please send a copy of the prepared speech, a headshot, his or her hometown and the name of the school to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also accepting parent- or student-submitted photos celebrating your graduate if he or she attends school in Okaloosa, Walton or Santa Rosa counties. Send those pictures to email@example.com