way into speech
By J.R. Sparke
HERINGTON — Although technology abounds in today’s society and there are several ways to communicate, Herington High valedictorian Colgan Powell encouraged her classmates and audience members to “use your brain” when she spoke Sunday afternoon during commencement exercises at the school.
She provided a bit of light-hearted humor in opening remarks by noting she had been begged or bullied to keep her address short, adding that classmate Ramsey Stramel had suggested the speech be shorter than her own stature.
And as she produced what appeared to be a multi-page document from which to read, Supt. of Schools John Thissen sprang from a nearby chair and “edited” the address to three pages. Powell responded by producing a cell phone.
“Well, if you are going to be that way, I’ll just read it from my cell phone,” she said. The device was quickly snatched from her hand by the superintendent.
“Let’s see what I have left,” Powell said, looking at the remaining pages of her address.
Powell began with the observation that when class members were born 17 or 18 years ago there was no text messaging. And although it developed slowly, texting has become global. 2.4 billion people text, which represents the number of people that would wrap around the Earth approximately 103 times if they standing with arms outstretched and fingertips touching, she said.
“How did we survive in the olden days?” Powell asked.
She then reviewed a litany of technological developments which have moved to mainstream use in recent years, including laptop computers, Facebook, GPS and many others.
Powell admitted that technological developments can be viewed as progress, but not in all cases.
Using e-mail to receive class assignments and employers checking the Facebook pages of job candidates are progressive uses of technology, she said. But using cell phones to detonate bombs, such as at the recent Boston Marathon, is not.
Powell asked classmates and audience members when and how they learn the most.
“Technology helps, but all of those technological things are just tools to use,” she said.
“Personally, I’ve learned the most, not from technology, but from teachers who really like teaching; teachers who push me to thing; from teachers who encourage questioning,” Powell said.
“Classmates, even in the midst of all the new technology, if we are going to survive and succeed in the future, where ever we go or whatever we do, we must be ready to use our brains, carefully analyze, think openly and make decent choices,” she said.
Faced with new and startling technological advances, Powell told classmates that “we can’t just say ‘whatever’.”
“If we are going to survive, thrive and succeed; we simply have to use our brains,” she said.
She said it would be easy to “blow this off.” However, she said she could think of six recent graduates from Tri-County Area high schools who are dead because they didn’t do the basics: Use their brains and make wise choices.
“Think not just about ‘me’, but about all of us. Think not just about what feels good today, but what works for the future, and make wise choices,” she concluded.
Victoria Addis confessed to being somewhat nerdy and weird when she delivered the salutatorian’s address, adding she had struggled to write a speech that would reflect her character and have her “stamp” on it.
Admitting she has a tendency to retain random facts, she shared that the Hogwarts’ motto from the Harry Potter book series is “draco dormers nunquam titillandus” translates to “never tickle a sleeping dragon”.
Addis then encouraged audience members to think of their favorite animal and then think of it with blue fur and one eye.
“They aren’t big changes, but they change how you perceive that animal,” she said. ”I love to change the
way people see things.”
Addis said that everyone has a “stamp” that makes then unique. Some people are sportsy, humorous or bubbly, while others can be sarcastic or narcissistic, or both.
“The fact of the matter is that each one of us has a quality unlike anyone else. These differences make the world go round,” she said. “These specialties make the world exciting and new.”
Addis told classmates that as they leave the place that helped mold her and them, she wanted them to remember who they are and their uniqueness. And to remember the people that helped them become the persons they are today and thank them.
She then thanked her parents, Russ and Suzy Addis, for “raising me into this quirky mess”.
Addis also thanked Paul and Janice Delise for being a “wonderful addition to our family” and to Melissa Parker to “accepting me into hers”.
She additionally thanked her best friends for appreciating her and choosing her to be their laughter and life buddies.
Addis then offered her thanks to her teachers for giving her the knowledge that has helped set some of her morals.
“For my last advice: We are just people, but it is what we do with our mortal bodies that matters,” she said. ”In the end, all we leave in life is our stamp.”
Addis encouraged classmates to find what makes them unique and find their stamp and grow off it, learn from it. Put it on your greatest pedestal.”
Several other Class of 2013 members were recognized for high honors, honors and honorable mention academic achievements.
Superintendent Thissen opened the program with remarks in which he compared life to a road trip, noting it is the unscheduled events in life and road trips that make for the adventures. He spoke about two road trips that he and his family and the ensuing adventures and misadventures.
The superintendent said the day was one of transition not only for students, but also parents.
He concluded his remarks by recalling the movie, “Saving Private Ryan.” He noted how the movie had touched his life due to the interaction of characters in scenes set many years apart.
Mark Cook, assistant principal and activities director, presented the candidates for graduation.
Board of Education members Bret Beye and Ben Meyer awarded diplomas to the candidates.
Cook then presented the graduates to the audience after having them move the tassels on their mortarboards from the right to the left.
A select vocal choir performed under the direction of instructor Anne Otte.
Processional and recessional music was played by the HHS band under the direction of instructor Kenny Roe.
Graduates formed a receiving line in commons area to greet family, friends and other well-wishers.