Salutatorian Savannah DeVoe: ‘We are only promised today’

SALUTATORIAN Savannah DeVoe receives her diploma from LR Principal Ted Finn. (Rivet Photo)

SALUTATORIAN Savannah DeVoe receives her diploma from LR Principal Ted Finn. (Rivet Photo)

By Savannah DeVoe


LRHS Class of 2013

On behalf of the Class of 2013, I want to welcome you all again to graduation, and start off by thanking those of you who have helped us get to this point in our lives.

To all of the underclassmen who are here today — Oh my God, this is terrifying, college is freaking me out, brace yourselves, okay? But in all seriousness, I think I can speak for the entire senior class when I say don’t wait until the last minute to explore your options. This is the only time when procrastinating is unacceptable.

To all of the faculty and our families — I apologize for forgetting to tell you to cover your ears for that last bit, you weren’t supposed to hear that. We’re all angels, cross my heart.

A simple “thank you” does not even begin to describe the amount gratitude we owe to you. You have prepared us as much as humanly possible for this next stage of our lives. Under your guidance, we have gathered the skills and tools to become responsible, well-rounded young adults. And now that the time has come for us to be adults, we should probably learn how to clean stuff and do our own laundry.

To my classmates — we’re finally here. Thirteen years of school, maybe more, maybe less, for some of you. As a class, we have accomplished so much, and set high standards for those who will follow us. Quoting Mr. Finn, “Academically, athletically and behaviorally, your class has set the bar for future classes to meet and our school is better off today because of your positive attitudes and efforts.” Adding to the list, we are one of the most musically talented classes, and the drama department will be very different next year, seeing as this year’s musical featured 27 graduating seniors. Our sports teams, our academic standings, and the atmosphere of the school itself will most definitely be feeling the impact of the departure of seniors next fall.

While getting here, we gained classmates and we lost classmates, but what matters is that today, we have reached the finish line of the first half of what is to come. And while one race has just been finished, we still have many more, never-ending ones to begin. I cannot stand in front of you today and promise a bright future for you, or a life full of happiness and success. I cannot promise you’ll find your path the moment you leave this school, or when you venture off to explore other opportunities that present themselves come September. Even if you believe you have already discovered yourself, or that you’ve planned your whole life down to the very last second, I can’t guarantee that any of it will come true. There is no one out there who can give you the answers, or who can point you in the right direction. Not even you yourself can answer the questions being asked of you.

In all honesty, I myself hope the opposite to be true. Despite my ever-growing need to be independent and do everything myself, I sometimes wish that I had someone to guide me through life so as to avoid unnecessary bumps along the way. I am afraid to make mistakes, afraid to fail, and afraid to be unimpressive or unsuccessful. I have no idea where my life will end up. I’m even deathly afraid of public speaking. But what I have neglected to realize until now — one thing I can promise to be true — is that our lives are made unique and full by those experiences and fears that we have.

Life is never going to be without surprises — sometimes good ones, sometimes less than favorable ones — and we have to take them as they come, one at a time. Know firstly that we cannot control the past — what has already happened: the failures we’ve encountered, the embarrassments we’ve suffered, and the mistakes we have made. Lucky for us, they are long gone, many already forgotten. Except for the time I accidentally tripped a teacher in the first grade when she was on crutches. That, unfortunately will stay with me for a long time. Know secondly that we cannot control our futures. For example, later in the day, I cannot promise I won’t try to push Kasey Huntress off the stage in hopes of taking her place as valedictorian. You never know.

You can interpret what I’ve said however you wish — I know some of you are thinking of how our pasts play a large part in shaping who we are in the present. But who honestly can tell me that the food stuck in your teeth from lunch wasn’t put there by accident, you were really just saving it for later?

And the future? All today is about is preparing for and celebrating the future. But do know that we’re not invincible, and we can never correctly predict what can happen to us when placed in the hands of time. I can’t even promise I’ll safely make it off the stage when I’m done with my speech.

I strongly believe that the time of greatest importance is the present. Some of you may know of Zach Sobiech, but for those who do not, Zach was an 18-year-old suffering from terminal osteosarcoma — a rare form of bone cancer. Last May, he was given only months to live. To quote Robert Brault, “Why be saddled with this thing called life expectancy? Of what relevance to an individual is such a statistic? Am I to concern myself with an allotment of days I never had and was never promised? Must I check off each day of my life as if I am subtracting from this imaginary hoard? No, on the contrary, I will add each day of my life to my treasure of days lived. And with each day, my treasure will grow, not diminish.”

Zach Sobiech was the embodiment of the idea that each day you are alive is a gift. There are others out there who are not so fortunate. Zach passed away a few short weeks ago. In his documentary, Zach said, “I thought I was invincible. I was ready for college, pretty much. And I was planning out way ahead. But it turns out that sometimes, you can’t do that.”

No one is promised a future. We are only promised today. And no matter what will happen in your future, or what has happened in your past, I want you to leave today knowing that we are living in the present. Abraham Lincoln said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” The one day we are currently facing — today — is all we can say for sure that we have. Don’t live for yesterday. Don’t live for tomorrow. Live for today.

Thank you, and I look forward to stalking you all on Facebook in 20 years.

Savannah Devoe will attend the University of Maine at Orono this fall.

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