Valedictorian urges class to help fellow man
The 114 graduating members of the Diboll High School Class of 2013 walked across the state Friday, May 31, at Lumberjack Stadium, receiving their diplomas.
Just last week, the seniors were honored for their $1.2 million in scholarships earned this year.
Valedictorian Shaunak “Sunny” Patel — attending Texas Tech University — and Salutatorian Zachary Hobbs — attending the University of Texas — delivered heart-felt speeches, followed by an address to the graduates from 2003 DHS grad Katrina Hines. Hines earned a degree from Texas A&M University and two master’s degrees from Prairie View A&M.
DHS Class of 2013 honor graduates, in order of rank, are Patel, Hobbs, Jessica Skipper, Hollie Cole, Lorena Rangel, Cassidy Bradley, Michaela Wagner, Shelley Maddox, Edwin Hurtado, Kelsey Reeves and Michael Gaitan.
As DISD trustees presented the students their diplomas, Maddox was recognized as the 5,000th student to earn a diploma from Diboll High School.
Before I begin, would the real Coach Bolden please stand up? Coach, I just wanted to say that I didn’t skip my workouts today; I did Insanity; umm — Max Cardio Conditioning, I know that is your favorite.
Wow. This is a wonderful crowd. Thank you all for coming today to help the class of 2013 celebrate our graduation.
I would like to begin by thanking my parents for everything they have done for me; they’ve enabled me to reach this stage in my life. Second, I’d like to thank my brother, aunt and beautiful sister-in-law for traveling 600 miles just to see me graduate. Last, but not least, I’d like to thank all of my friends that are here in attendance today.
Now, I think I speak for everyone when I say this; And that is to give the biggest thanks to the entire Diboll High School staff and faculty. Neither I nor my classmates would be standing here before you today if it were not for the faculty members at our school. It was their responsibility to mold us into the young adults that we are today; it was their responsibility to prepare us to become the future of this country; and I must say that they have done an excellent job at it.
I don’t think they get enough credit for the things they do; for all the extra hours they spend to ensure we are educated. They are our unsung heroes, so to speak. Would every single Diboll High School staff member in attendance today, please stand up? Ladies and gentlemen, let’s have a round of applause.
This is a bittersweet farewell for me. It saddens me to leave behind my friends and family, yet embark on this new and exciting journey.
Now, to my classmates. I want to say, “Congratulations, we made it.” In my younger years, I remember thinking I would never graduate; that it was so far away. But that day is today. Every one of us has the potential to become great; to fulfill our hearts’ desires and contribute to society as a whole. We live in the best time in the greatest country the world has ever known. Agriculture has the potential to feed up to 11 billion people on this planet; modern medicine has eradicated diseases like smallpox and polio; there are enough resources to ensure that every man, woman and child can have food, water and shelter; and free trade has given rise to the possibility of world peace.
Do not be fooled, though; the world is still full of problems that are equally great; they are very real; they are dangerous; and they have, the potential to consume us — if we let them. The earth is rapidly warming; entire species are nearing extinction; people are starving; new diseases are running rampant; economies are faltering; fossil fuels are depleting; and so on.
Now, the thing about problems, catastrophes, wars and calamities is that they do not account for the human element. They expect us to run; they expect us to hide; and they expect us to give up. But what they cannot account for is our ability, to rise and, defiantly, meet the challenge. History has shown us that we cannot only overcome adversity, but thrive on it.
Classmates, I am proud to say that the solution is here and it is now. And it isn’t me, it isn’t Mr. Hobbs, or Dr. Hobbs as he will soon be known. A problem of extraordinary magnitude must be met by equally extraordinary people. The solution is us. We cannot do it alone. The great philosopher Aesop once proclaimed, “United We Stand or Divided We Fall.” This holds true today. Look at our country during the 1960s in the space race. Human ingenuity knows no bounds.
We are obligated to help our fellow man; to increase the potential in his pursuit of happiness; to defend the weak and march towards the gates of hell if we must. So, I leave you, my class of 2013, asking the question, will you be a part of the solution?
I would like to begin by thanking the parents, staff, teachers, administrators, family, friends, fellow graduates, Mom, Dad, Brett, and everyone else who has made this night possible, because none of us would be here without all of you. But I am not here tonight for me. I am here for all of us. As much of a cynical and fat-headed person I am, there is no denying that this school and this community have made me who I am today. The support and ferocious passion for Diboll’s youth that I see every day in the community is something I can take with me and say this is not just mine, this is ours. This is our heart. And having said that, as I look out onto this sea of crimson tonight, two realizations come to mind. First of all, we made it. We have now made our first great step into the world, and every one of us deserves to be here tonight. The second, in a way, branches off of the first. This is it. As we sit here, twiddling our thumbs and tapping our toes in anxiety over this graduation, we begin to understand that tonight is, for the most part, the last time most of us will see each other again. So, instead of focusing on the sad bits, I’d like to reminisce on the beginnings of our time at Diboll High School.
The heat of the midday August sun begins to fade on our backs as we enter the chilly unfamiliar hallways for the first time. We are all hurriedly rushed into the gym, confused, nervous, and perhaps still a bit sleepy. No one wanted to be lectured about the newfound challenges that high school would bring. No one wanted to spend their day meeting teachers. And no one wanted to be up before noon. But nevertheless, there was not a single calm fish in the building. I think we can all remember way back to Fish Camp 2009. The first time we entered the school that we would eventually call ours as a class, and as group. I can’t see anyone out there who won’t admit to being even a bit nervous before freshman orientation. At the time, it just seemed strange. It seemed like we were finally adults ready to take on this great big world. Nothing could stop us, that is, until we realized we weren’t the big kids on campus anymore. But think about it. It was weird at the time. Until freshman year, high school seemed like some far away dream that would never actually come true. It seemed like we would keep rising in grade levels but we were never in the “cool school.” Well it finally came, and it flew by faster than any of us would have ever expected. It came and went and now we must move on to bigger and better things, right? But I thought the saying was that “you’ll never have as much fun as you did in high school”? So how can things ever be better than the most fun you’ll ever have?
The answer to this is something that most people forget when they leave high school. School is over, then you either go to college, join the military, or get a job. However, no matter how it plays out, everyone eventually settles down with their lives and wishes to go back to their high school glory days. The difference between now and then is later on; you have to work hard to make life worth all of the trouble. Think of it like this: what game is more rewarding? The one you win because it was easy, or the one you win because you give your best 100% of the time, practice until you know it is your sleep, and deserve because you are the more determined competitor? It’s obvious. The same applies to our futures. I know everyone in the graduation class can achieve anything they want if you all set your minds to it. Make yourselves better people every single day that you live and I promise you, the best times are far from over.