Rebecca Roth, Valedictorian Speech
The following post was the speech given by Miss Rebecca Roth, New Covenant School Valedictorian for the the class of 2016. Please read and enjoy! It is well worth your time!
Imagine with me. It is the first month of our senior year. We have a new English teacher, Mr. Wilkes. We know next to nothing about this guy except that he seems very serious, and he is supposed to teach us how to write in preparation for college. It seems to be just a dull Friday morning in English class with our minds already on the weekend. We are all hanging around the classroom waiting for class to start and chatting about how Mr. Canney keeps shaving his beard. Mr. Wilkes instructs us to sit down. He then orders us to stand up. We have no idea what is going on, and we look at one another to see if we all share in the same confusion - we do. We notice Mr. Wilkes peeking nonchalantly out the door of his classroom into the hall several times. He then gestures at us to follow him. We cautiously get up and trail after him into the hall. All of a sudden, he turns the corner, sprints down the hall, and is gone. We stand there with wide eyes and open mouths, paralyzed. The search begins. Ben and Brian wander downstairs to look in the gym. Jill and Adri run to the school office to ask Mrs. Lopez if she has seen him. Rebekah, Michelann, and I just check the lost and found. We can’t find Mr. Wilkes anywhere. Discouraged, we admit defeat and slowly return to the classroom. There stands Mr. Wilkes with a satisfied look on his face. He remarks casually, “Confused? That’s what it’s like for your reader when you don’t use transitions in your writing.” Mr. Wilkes, your short demonstration gave our class such a great visual for the importance of transitions and showed us how much faster you can run than CJ.
As you can see, transitions are important in all aspects of our lives. How is that for a transition, Mr. Wilkes? Class of 2016, we are on the verge of the biggest transition of our lives. We are going from high school to college, from teenager to adult, and for some of us, we are going from Christian education to public education, or even to a job. We must ask ourselves, “What are we taking with us as we transition from this Christian education?”
Academically, a classical education has equipped us with many skills. Our grammar years gave us the building blocks for knowledge. Do y’all remember the song we memorized of the important dates in history? Next, the logic years dramatically increased our ability to think critically. We read original documents written by some of the great thinkers throughout history. Mr. Canney helped us enter into conversations with these revolutionary thinkers on a daily basis through the Socratic method of discussion. Class was always full of such great experiences. We debated C. S. Lewis’ ideas about the fundamentals of Christianity. We marveled at Tolkien’s subcreation of Middle Earth as a reflection of God’s handiwork. We did sarcastic impressions of Charles Finney’s dramatic revival preaching. When we discussed these ideas, arguing was not only allowed but also encouraged. Finally, how could we forget our rhetoric years that taught us how to present our arguments and ideas in a clear and concise manner? Writing countless essays and ten page research papers on boring topics like social media was not always fun. There were days when, just to get through these papers, we had to drop everything for a Starbucks run and get the biggest coffee possible. The development of our academic abilities, which we often suffered through and occasionally enjoyed, has paved the way to success in college, jobs, and our very lives.
Spiritually, our education has shaped our worldview into a Biblical one. A Biblical worldview is a framework of beliefs through which we as Christians interpret the world. C. S. Lewis points this out when he says, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” We also learned that God is the source of all never-changing Truth. As we encounter new ideas and values, we will be able to see these ideas through the lens of scripture. A strong, Biblical worldview is essential in today’s culture to avoid being swayed to and fro by whatever is popular and widely accepted. We see choices about college and careers with the understanding that God has given each of us distinctive gifts. We then need to respond to God by using those gifts to serve others and Him. We are working out our callings. Our Biblical worldview will guide us through the decisions we make - from what major to chose or whether or not we should just binge-watch The Office over and over and over again.
We now face significant transitions, yet the ultimate transition is that of Christ’s - from death to life. His sacrifice on the cross has made it possible for us also to transition from death to life through faith in Him. This is the Gospel that we have learned, memorized, discussed, processed, and embraced as our own during our time here. In my favorite scripture passage, Romans 8, we find God’s promises in the words of Paul, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all… We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because of these promises and the fact that He has given us His righteousness, we can move forward in life knowing whose we are and where we belong. Lewis perfectly articulates this when he says, “I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” We were made for another world. Through this knowledge that we have more in store for us than what happens in this world, we receive two gifts as we transition. First, it takes off the pressure to succeed in every aspect of life. Christ is sufficient. Second, it gives us the freedom to try new things, the freedom to fail at others, and the freedom to know that our best is enough. Christ truly is sufficient.
To our teachers, our parents, our families, and the congregation of New Covenant Church, thank you for these transitional gifts. To my classmates, we are ready to transition. Be encouraged by the words of one of my favorite bands, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper. This is a war you’ve already won. So no matter what comes my way, I’ll stay the course.” Stay the course, classmates, stay the course for Christ is sufficient.