Xiangling Kong was named Valedictorian of the Class of 2013. Following his his graduation address.
Teachers, administrators, family, friends and most importantly, the graduating class, good afternoon.
It is an honor to be speaking to you on this special occasion. After one last week of classes, most of them being exams, we are finally graduating. Today, I’m not going to give you any advice, as I have none that would matter from an 18 year old. But what I can give you are some memories of what our high school years were like and some of the experiences that have changed us as productive members of society.
When I first arrived at Cushing, I admit, I was a little disappointed but now that I think about it, I was actually scared like many of us were. I really knew only one person and spent the majority of my time entranced in my own world, which is also to say I spent most of my time in my own room. I was missing out on what high school life was about. But throughout the next few years, I met people and discovered clubs and activities. There was something for everyone. Whether it was sports, music, arts, or something academic like doing research in Dr. Sponholtz’s lab, we found something that we truly liked and actually enjoyed doing after the laborious hours of school. Some of you participated in the Winter Musical and although I was not a part of it, I knew that it was a transforming experience and the results were spectacular. School taught us what we need to survive in this economy but what we do after school hours has changed us as people. And these transformations will follow us for the rest of our lives. I know that as we move on to college next year, I will carry all of these memories with me and I hope you all will as well.
And that brings me to my next order of business: colleges. We have all been accepted somewhere, and somewhere special. I mean who would waste the hundred dollars and apply to a college that they didn’t think that they would remotely be happy there? As high school comes to and end or rather it has already ended, a new chapter in our lives begins. The next four years will be unique. After living here in the middle of nowhere for the past three years, I would think that going to a city would be a unique challenge. And for those of you moving to another middle of nowhere, don’t worry; it’s still going to be a brand new experience such as observing new varieties of trees that you have never seen before in Ashburnham as you walk to school each day. And well, I am actually going to give you one small piece of advice. Enjoy the next four years of your lives and try new things. Don’t strangle yourself with a single goal. I wasted a year of my life because I was stuck in my own world. Don’t let that happen to you. Let us be the harpooners that sail to the ocean to discover the unknown and hunt white whales but let us not be lost in it as Ahab was. Let us follow the path that life has set for us and not regret the past. Let us follow the likes of Captain Bloomer, for if we don’t, we will sink like the Pequod in the turbulent seas.
Finally, like all others I have a few special acknowledgements. First, to my best friends here, Hariz, Grady, Selena, Anny and Rachael. You guys have made a world of difference to me. And to those I did not call, although I may not have known you that well, you have made a difference to the people you are connected with and that’s what’s important. Second, a big thanks to all the teachers that have taught me and advised me through my endless problems whether they were related to academics, colleges or just in the “other” category. Thirdly, I would like to thank all the parents for having us because without you we would not be here. I would especially like to thank my father because it’s his birthday today, so happy birthday to him. And lastly, thank you, my fellow classmates, without you there would be no community.
And with that, congratulations to the class of 2013!