McDonnell gives valedictorian speech

Staff Writer
Geneseo Republic
John McDonnell gives the valedictorian speech at the graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 24, 2009.

?Editor’s note: Senior Rob McDonnell gave the valedictorian’s speech at graduation on Sunday, May 24, at Orion High School. Valedictorians were Janel Cross, Jamie Harrington, Jim Hills, Tori Matzen and McDonnell. His speech is reprinted below.

My fellow classmates, this is a monumental day in our lives, the last day that we truthfully spend together as the Class of 2009—today we graduate.

After 12 long years of learning, laughing and growing through life’s challenges, we have finally passed one of the many milestones that lay ahead of us; however, as we all know, there still are more yet to be crossed.

That is what we all have gathered for here today: a celebration of the journey that we 80+ young adults will embark upon after having crossed the same threshold. 

From here on out, the paths we choose will be our own, the experiences we have will develop each of us separately, yet the memories of our past, the memories that we all shared together through the past 12 years, will always be there: the intangible force that will always bind us.

As we take our last look at the halls that housed our learning and the faculty that fostered our growth, some might get scared. Frightened at the fact that from here on out, we are essentially “all on our own.” Yet this is not true.

For the past 12 years of our lives, the seemingly endless assignments, the mundane tasks and those pestering projects that we did were not all for nothing. 

Each and everyone of those shared ordeals—the assignments, the tests, the projects—all of them have just been preparing us for the work ahead, teaching necessary life lessons of hard work, determination, passion, promptness and communication through finishing achievable goals.

These qualities are our last defense in the wide world we are about to enter, for as a wise man once told me, “They can take everything from you: your car, your house, your savings; however, the one thing they can never take from you is your education.”

Our education together began for most of us in preschool, adding others in the classes that followed.

New to the world and inexperienced in life, C.R. Hanna was a sort of testing ground where we could flap our wings in an attempt to venture forth from the nest.

Then, as we grew in experience and aptitude, we moved on to the old OMS, the bulky, three-story building where we could feel the history of the classes that preceded us.

Fortunately, we were the last class to experience both the old and new Orion Middle Schools, as the new one was built through our sixth grade year and we started seventh grade in the new building, allowing us to experience the best of both worlds.

Personally, I will always remember when the tar on the roof of the new middle school caught on fire during one of our last days of sixth grade, one of those unforgettable memories that we will always share. The new middle school was nice, having completely new classrooms and equipment to aid in our learning, yet the nostalgic feeling of the old middle school was sadly missed.

Finally, eighth grade year came, where we were the “big dogs” so to speak; the ones that were looked up to as role models for all the younger students. The year went on, only faster than the years before with the aspects of graduation and the class trip, which was enjoyable although we didn’t go to Six Flags like most of the other eighth grade classes.

With graduation over, we came to our final frontier, Orion High School, the place where each of us would have to decide what it was that we truly wanted to do with our lives.

And now, after four more years of training, each of us stands yet again at a similar beginning.

Our teachers have prepared us the most that they could, imparting valuable knowledge that we will never forget.

The path ahead of us awaits, foggy as it may be. As a representative of the best Class of 2009, I wish each of my fellow peers success on whatever road they choose to take in the life that lays ahead.