Congratulations to Thomas Pacheco of Gardner, Mass., on being named the 2012 Valedictorian. Following is his Commencement address.
Thank you and good morning Dr. Tracy, trustees, faculty, family members, and especially the class of 2012.
After twelve long years of school, and for some of us even longer, we have finally made it through another checkpoint of our schooling career. But just as one chapter in our lives ends, another is so quick to begin. As freshmen and sophomores, we looked forward to becoming upperclassmen. As juniors to the SAT and AP tests, and as seniors to applying to colleges and graduating.
Now that we’ve been accepted into college, how long will it be before we begin looking forward to the next step? It seems that we are finally done, but in reality, college is just another four more years of school with the goal of getting somewhere else. And here lies the problem. There will always, always be another step in our future, but if that is our only focus, then the present here and now gets lost.
As a message to the future classes of Cushing: College will inevitably be here in a few years so work hard in your classes but don’t forget to enjoy your time here in high school. Cushing is truly an opportunity of a lifetime. Great classes and teachers, sports, arts, drama and all of it available to every single student. This is a time in life that happens only once. Take chances. Keep college in mind but allow yourself to enjoy all the opportunities surrounding you. Try new things and do things for yourself, not because of its appearance on a transcript.
And now to the class of 2012: We have made it to the end of our time here at Cushing and I think the best thing that we can do is to look back and truly appreciate all that has been given, and earned and won, and achieved during all the time spent on this campus. Graduations are usually about all the places we’ll go and the people we’ll meet, which are important, but I think it is time to honor the places we’ve been. Which other high school in the country has a purple penguin for a mascot, or an electronic library, or even purple sidewalks that get slippery when it rains. All of us have at least a few great memories in this place. We need to cherish them. Be honest, who could forget about all of those riveting special assemblies in the gym. The small things like burger Friday and Monday, or Thursday advisor meetings and lunch with your friends. These are the little memories that make Cushing a place that I am proud to have been a part of.
Cushing is also unique because of its diversity. Friends like Andy, Geunwoo, IK, Windy, Baron, Ryan, Austin, Bob, and Ziran have turned our high school days into a rich multicultural international experience. On top of learning how to swear in each of your languages, you have all opened our eyes to the world and cultures around us. I will always be thankful for this. Not to mention, Bob and Ziran make some pretty darn good robots and were huge parts in the first ever Cushing Robotics team and its championship.
Other memories I am sure most of us will remember are all of those long bus trips traveling with our teams, or working in the studio, or late night rehearsals. At the time, those tasks seemed boring and kind of annoying but looking back those were times spent with great friends trying to do everything we could to make the best of it. Eating lunch with Ben, Grady, Xianling, and Jordan or taking a long ride with the tennis team are some of my best memories I have had here. And I am sure the same goes for most us. And for the classes, I will always remember my science classes with Meghan, my English classes with Elsie, and my math classes with Deena and Ryan. Not to mention all my time in the day student rooms with Cam, Creighton, Alec, Shaylah and Donovan. And see here’s the thing. A lot of those names may not mean anything to you, but to me, those are the friends that made my Cushing experience so great. I know all of us have friends here that deserved to be mentioned.
Now, obviously most of us are going to remember the great dances and dining hall raves but on top of that, all the time spent in the dorms and in the library with friends or on Mountain Day and Tony Fisher Day as well as all those closed weekends. My only regret is that I wish I had realized the value of these things while they were happening. I was so worried about what tomorrow would bring that a lot was lost in the here and now. Moving forward, I think we all should live a little more in the present. Think about it this way: Four years ago at the end of fall, we four-year seniors shouldn’t have been worrying about our exams at all. The ice storm took care of everything. Of course I’m joking but I think the message is clear. We don’t know what the future will bring so focus on today and its value in our lives.
Congratulations class of 2012!