Congratulations to Danni Wang, named this year’s Valedictorian. Below is the address she gave to her fellow 2014 classmates and the Cushing community.
“Members of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Torino, Class of 2014, faculty, family, and friends: My name is Danni Wang, and I was born and raised in Beijing. When I applied to Cushing three years ago, I read the mission statement: “We offer a demanding college preparatory curriculum, teach skills that build confidence, and instill values that endure.” However, at that time, I didn’t know what it meant or how it was ever going to connect to my life.
Attending Cushing was like a dream come true. For the first time in my life, I had almost everything I’d ever hoped for: freedom to do anything I like, travel without my parents, and a credit card. I was so excited. I thought studying at Cushing would be the beginning of a life of leisure. However, as the months of my sophomore year passed, I increasingly felt that I lacked a goal. Although I wasn’t sure what my goal was, I just knew that I had to go after something.
I realized that my excitement was a sign of immaturity, because in the pursuit of one’s goal, worry and stress are inevitable. Certainly, we’ve all taken some hard classes, and we’ve all had times when we wanted to give up. Sadly, our teachers pushed us even harder.
The fall of my junior year was like that. The massive amounts of homework and pressure took a heavy toll on me – on all of us.
Thankfully, our teachers also encouraged us. For those who have taken the class I am referring to, you will recognize the following familiar line: “It’s ok. You will be fine.” If we refused to turn in our quiz, the teacher would grab it from our hands and deliver his other customary line: “No worries. We will have another one tomorrow”. Well great…. Were those words supposed to make me feel happy? But, if it were not for experiences like those, we would never be able to see what we could do by pushing ourselves to the limit. Although my teacher’s words may seem trite, they really helped me. In fact, during my hardest time, I told myself every day not to give up and that tomorrow everything would be fine.
You may think that at Cushing, tomorrow is the same as today and yesterday. We wake up and go to breakfast. We head to classes and afternoon activities. We eat dinner and have some free time to hang out with our friends before we prepare for study hall. Then, we go to sleep, and tomorrow the routine starts all over again. I am sure the daily schedule just ran through your head like a movie clip. Yet, with each day comes something that cheers you up, something that upsets you, or something that is so special or important that you’ll never forget it. You see, something different happens in each of our lives every day. In Cushing’s diverse environment, we not only learn from our own experiences but also from those of everyone else sitting next to us.
Looking back, I realize that Cushing’s mission statement is the most precise articulation of what I, and I assume all of us, wanted to achieve: to grow intellectually and socially, to be more confident, and never to give up trying.
To our teachers, thank you for the encouragement that empowered us to pursue our goals. Thanks also for your tolerance of our mistakes that were important for our growth. Thank you for the free time you sacrificed to help us with non-academic problems. Thanks to our dorm parents for making sure that we got to bed on time and for giving us the incentive in the form of Early Lights Out not to stay up watching late night shows and movies. Thanks to our art teachers and coaches who introduced us to things that we love to do so that we can let go of our stress. Thanks to the housekeeping and maintenance staff who worked so hard to make our campus such a beautiful place to study and live. Above all, thank you for the smiles and friendly greetings. Last but not least, I would like to thank my mom and dad for trusting me to study and live twelve time zones away from home. Because of them, I didn't give up.
And because my parents are not here today and are watching the live video stream, I will speak to them directly: 爸爸妈妈，谢谢你们一直在背后鼓励我，支持我，信任我，我永远爱你们。
And now, we are about to graduate. There are so many things that we will miss: friendships, teachers, Cushing Olympics, Headmaster’s Holidays, and double cheese grilled chicken calzones from Village. And, there are things that we will no longer need to do: lights out, mandatory check-ins, study hall, and weekend permission. But now our time to leave has come, we are ready to commence the next part of our lives.
Wherever you go, remember how hard you worked, how much you grew, how ready you are for the next step, and how proud you are to be a Cushing Penguin.
Best wishes and thank you all for making my Cushing dream come true.”