Simmons Valedictorian Speech
Mary Virginia Wall Simmons’ Valedictorian Speech given on January 17, 1927; 1st and only midterm graduation and 1st time to wear caps and gowns
We, as a high school class, have reached in our course of study what comes to all through patient perseverance – the end. There is always pleasure in accomplishment, in reaching a result, and there is gratification in the thought that we have, by conscientious work, reached the close of our school course, and are now ready to take a step beyond. The good results which we expect from our study are not to be considered wholly made up of acquired knowledge. A wise and thoughtful writer says: “The education received at school and college is but a beginning, and is mainly valuable in so far as it trains us to educate ourselves after a definite plan and system.”
If our school life has given us true ideals, and a start toward a method of independent thought, it has done well and fulfilled its proper purpose. These we truly hope have been the results, and, feeling that we have been thus benefitted, our thoughts turn to you, kind friends and patrons, in heartfelt gratitude for the educational advantages with which you have favored us.
We address you as friends – friends who have watched our progress year by year, and whose words of encouragement have often spurred us on to higher endeavor and stronger effort. The mid-term class of 1927 sincerely thank you for your interest in the work of the past, as well as that shown on this occasion, and we aim and hope to become members of society worthy of the school well established and maintained by this community acting through their school board and shall always feel deeply indebted to them and their lasting benefits to us because of their wise actions.
As we look back upon our record and think of all the intercourse of the schoolroom, as classmates together, thoughts of regret rise and steal away something of the pleasure of the day. Year after year, we have learned the same lessons, overcome similar difficulties and shared the same school triumphs and pleasures. Our thoughts and interests have been one; but the day of graduation marks the first great change in our lives. The course of each of our classmates in the future will be different. Whatever rests in store for each in the future, it must surely be a life of greater activity and variety.
Wherever our lot may be cast, whether in pleasant places or among the thorns and briars of life’s pathway, we shall often think of the old schoolroom, just how each pupil looked, remember some pleasant incident, and think how short those happy schooldays were. We shall then know how to say “Our school days were the happiest of our life.”
But we must say farewell, and break the ties that have long bound us as a class. Wherever you my classmates may go, or whatever you may do may you succeed in the life of usefullness, carrying with you ever the force and buoyant spirit of our school days. Though we can never be classmates again, the class feeling of true friendship and sympathy need never cease.
But we say farewell, not only to former days and old friends, but harder than all to our dear teachers who have daily thought and worked for us to make our school routine not a task, but a thing of pleasure and profit. The teacher who understands the particular wants of all his pupils, and who does all in his power to aid each in the needed direction, is doing a great work. They guided and directed our thoughts, explained the hard places and showed us the important points of each lesson as we pursued the tiresome study. They were patient with our failures and faults. All that we have done as pupils has been due largely to the influence of our teachers.
Regret deep and lasting, fills the heart that we shall never again receive the good counsel which has been so great an incentive to our efforts in study at school as well as at home. For the influence of a good teacher is not only seen in the direct work at school but shows itself in the words and actions of the pupils, wherever they go.
But, mingled with these feelings for the past, come anticipations for the future, which still allure us on. Time speeds with flying feet, and all alike must follow. The curtain falls upon the past school-day scenes, but another and more glorious scene lies before our eyes – the morning of our manhood is breaking and before us stretches far into the distance widely diverging paths, which lead us ever onward to an unknown future.
Teacher and school companions, one and all, with a last lingering look at the setting sun of our high school days shining with a tender radiance, clothing all the scene with glorious beauty, we turn and fix our gaze upon the day just dawning.