Photo by Barb Hockenbary Photography

JC Valedictorian and Salutatorian Share Commencement Speeches

Note from the editor; I had several people reach out to me to ask if the Murdo Coyote would publish the speeches  from the graduation ceremony on July 27. Here they are for your reading pleasure!
Dylan Iwan, Valedictorian
Well, despite the world’s best efforts, we’re all still here. I find it pretty funny that the entire point of a valedictorian speech is to be optimistic and hopeful, so of course the most cynical one in the class has to make said speech. 
2020 has been the most depressing and upsetting year since 2019. A lot of not very good things have been occurring and, unlike many, we all have the privilege of actually having a graduation ceremony and having our little after-parties and all of that. If I may, I feel as though we should all take a second to honor and applaud all of the kids nationwide who didn’t get to have the big send-off from high school that they wanted. 
While we’re giving thanks and all…I want to publicly extend gratitude to all of the families here for the graduates. Obviously, none of us got here alone, and it is worth shouting out all of the parents to the graduates. I of course am going to be shouting out my own mother, father, grandparents, and all that, and I want to pay tribute to all of the other integral relatives and friends in these graduate’s lives. 
Now I’m going to pay tribute to the graduate’s themselves. If there is one thing that I am honestly weirdly optimistic about it is the future of my classmates. I am honestly very, very optimistic about the lives of my friends.
Blaise Nelson is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. I have not known many people who are smarter and more talented than him. Like all truly brilliant people, he can be occasionally lazy and unmotivated; however, he is still one of the most intelligent and naturally gifted people I’ve ever encountered. If he puts his mind to something, he becomes the most accomplished at whatever it is.
Riley Rankin is also one of the most naturally gifted people in the world. He’s been at the top of the academic and athletic game here in Murdo this whole time. He has worked insanely hard, but you wouldn’t have guessed because it looks so effortless with him. It goes without saying that he’s one of the smartest people up here, but he’s also one of the nicest individuals when you finally convince him to speak.
Jake Dowling remains probably the funniest and most charismatic person in my life. No one in my life has made me laugh more than Jake Dowling, I think. Not only that but he is a gifted speaker and an individual that just seethes confidence. He’s the kind of friend I think everyone should have. 
Emily Jacobs is very opinionated, blunt, and she has never been afraid to speak her mind. I used to find her very frightening, compared to now where I find her only semi-frightening. She has no problem being the loudest voice in the room and offering her opinion unfiltered. Quite frankly, I find that admirable.
Lilli Moore is one of the nicest and kindest people I know. She is insanely sweet, wonderful, and funny. Also, speaking as someone who has known her since Kindergarten, she has had easily the biggest glow up over the years. 
Liz Hunt has never been afraid to take charge of situations and has always been willing to lead. She was oftentimes the person who made decisions and led the way when nobody else cared that much about what we were doing. 
Aunya Avila was the hardest worker in this class. Whether it be schoolwork or sports or anything else, she always tried her hardest and worked incessantly. I never got the feeling that Aunya ever gave half-effort; and if she did, she was excellent at hiding it. 
I’m really proud to have been a part of this class. We may have been dysfunctional, dramatic at points, and sometimes “difficult” to handle; but to be quite honest, I don’t think I’d change anything. It was an incredible honor to have been a part of the class that was either a teacher’s most beloved or most hated with no in between in sight. 
We were a coalition of kids that lived by a “work smarter, not harder” philosophy. And by that, I mean that if there was any semblance of a shortcut, we took it. Sometimes this mentality would benefit us and show off our incredible ingenuity in the face of conflict. Other times we would be ostracized and make everything much harder on ourselves: but hey that’s showbiz, baby!
Seriously, I love this class with all my heart and I firmly believe that we are truly one of the better classes to come out of Jones County High School. I have a lot of confidence in my fellow classmates. They are all unique, singular, and spectacular in their own weird ways. I honestly loved being in this class, and I’m going to miss these guys. But I know that they are all going to find their places in the world, because this class has always had the ability to succeed against insurmountable odds. I have no doubt that my classmates are all going to pull of this whole “grown up world” thing.
Riley Rankin, Salutatorian
Welcome everyone to the 2020 Jones County High School graduation ceremony. My classmates and I are glad those that are here could make it, and for those who decided to sit this one out, we completely understand. It has been quite the year so far, with so much uncertainty surrounding the world. We are excited to be here and to finally get some closure on our high school careers, something we thought we wouldn’t get. After all these years of thinking this moment couldn’t come fast enough, it just had to drag out a little longer. On a positive note, all that matters is that we are here, and we are grateful for everyone that is here to enjoy this moment with us today.
We’ve been through a lot in our years together. From tossing pony tails into Mr. MacArthur’s fish tank to eating all of Jake’s pizza rolls at 4 A.M. to surviving a virus, you could say we’ve been through a lot together. We have our ups and downs of course, but we still seem to always want to hang out with each other whenever we can. The thing I am going to miss the most is seeing everyone every day. Sounds cheesy, I know, but we grew up with each other. Plus, it was always a good time poking fun at each other throughout the school day. Congratulations guys, and thank you for everything. 
Now, I would like to thank the teachers. They’ve been there for us whenever we needed help, and I would like to especially position the spotlight on the final semester of this past school year. Students had to work for a little bit at a time out of their week, but teachers stayed on the clock day and night during quarantine. Not only did they have to make their lesson plans weekly, but they had to stay close to the computer to receive questions from their students both day and night. I actually remember sending Mrs. Daum a couple emails around 10 o’clock at night a few times. I’m thankful for all the teachers we have had, past and present, and I’m pretty positive they’re just as thankful for us.
Next, I would like to thank our parents and families. Thank you for giving us the love and support we needed throughout not only our high school careers, but just overall. We couldn’t have gotten here without you pushing us and encouraging us. Whether it was at ball games or giving us that extra kick to get out of bed in the morning, we are grateful for it. I’m going to just leave it there because I can not put into words how thankful we are for every single one of you.
To the crowd, we really appreciate the support and recognition we are being given. For those watching from home, we understand and are just as thankful for you as well.
With that all said, and looking to the future, there’s a ton of variety with this class. I hope you all find a place to call home, whether it is here or a thousand miles away. I know each one of you will be successful in whatever you end up doing in life.
To the future classes, don’t be afraid to have some fun every once in a while, but to also keep up with school. Life is a whole lot easier as a high school kid when you don’t have to worry about grades and you can focus on hanging out with your friends. I suggest staying away from mentos and coke bottles while at school, but that’s up to you.
I couldn’t have asked for a better class to get through all these years with. We had a great run, and I hope can keep in touch. Peace.

The Pioneer Review

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