Speech delivered together at THS Graduation by Annelise Pauroso (italics) and Marah Pauroso (regular font).
Marah: How do we bring a close to four years of our lives?
Annie: I am Annelise Pauroso.
M: And I am Marah Pauroso. To quickly clarify, yes we are twins. Now each of you have had your own individual experiences throughout high school.
A: Maybe they were good, bad, or just four years of getting by,
M: But no matter what, this evening is nothing but an accomplishment for all of us.
A: We would like to share these next few minutes with you reflecting on the years we have persevered together.
M: We thought that we would begin by explaining how we came to stand before you today.
A: Our intent for our education was never to strive for perfection, but rather for growth and understanding.
M. This process of understanding was never a simple task for either of us. For many years we both struggled. We were never placed in advanced classes but were assigned to “reading group two” or given packet B.
A: However, this never prevented us from placing ourselves in more challenging classes when given the opportunity in high school. The Dual credit and AP classes offered by our school, allowed us to define our own boundaries rather than letting others determine these boundaries for us. There are changes being questioned about both class size and the necessity of these classes in the future. All I can say is that these classes are the main reasons why we stand before all of you today. And we would hope these same opportunities would be offered to all students who want to define their own futures as well.
M: Graduates, I can guarantee all of us will face different challenges in our lifetime. For many of us, we might have already started to face these, but it’s important to remember that we, yes, WE, are the ones that construct our own futures.
A: As we construct our own futures, how do we determine success?
M: Is it determined by the degrees we pursue?
A: Is it determined by whether we go to college or not?
M: Is it determined by the cars, clothes or houses we own?
M. Today it’s easy to judge success based on the money in our pockets and the things we own, but we are forgetting that success is broader than this. It comes from the experiences and relationships we form throughout our lives.
A: In keeping this idea in the back of our minds, we will speak to you now about one of the most important concepts we’ve learned — the practice of gratitude.
M: The concept of gratitude is something we constantly hear throughout our life.
A: We are taught as children to say please and thank you.
M: If you ever had Mrs. Hendricks or Mrs. Williams as a teacher, then you’ve shared a good thing in class.
A: We have holidays dedicated to giving appreciation to our mothers, fathers, and teachers. We even have a whole day dedicated to giving thanks.
M: All of these are meant to teach and encourage gratitude in our lives. However, how many times a day do you truly list the things you’re grateful for?
A: Not just saying thank you to someone when they hold open a door, but taking the time to be grateful.
M: I cannot stress enough how this attitude can truly alter your mood and your overall outlook on life. I personally set aside time each day to recognize at least one thing that I’m grateful for. I have written down positive comments I hear or jokes that make me laugh, that remind me of how wonderful life can be and how grateful I am for this life. This might appear cheesy on the surface, but I have become a more positive person because of this.
A: The message we are trying to convey is that gratitude, as simple as it may sound, has the ability to enhance all of our outlooks on life. On a final note, we are grateful to have been able to share this brief time with you, filled with unsolicited advice, but advice we should all be reminded of.
M: In the words of Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one precious wild life?”
Together: Thank you for listening!