Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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June 7, 2014

CHS Valedictorian, Salutatorian addresses

Caraline Means and MaKenzie Lee addressed the Corsicana High School Class of 2014 Friday, delivering their commencement addresses, which we share for you below.

Caraline Means, valedictorian

I have tried to plan this speech out for the past year. I have written it, and rewritten it, and rewritten it again, but every time I would write a new speech, I couldn’t help but think as I read it to myself that something was missing. And finally, I realized that there was no way I could possibly write a speech that fully captured and reflected my journey through high school and the lessons I learned along the way until I experienced every last moment of it. I literally didn’t write this speech until the night before I had to turn it in. And that night while I was sitting down to write it, that's when it hit me... That's when I realized how much every single moment matters. The person I am right now is not the same person who was attempting to write this speech a year ago, or a month ago, or a week ago, or even the day before I wrote it. And the person I am right now is not going to be the same person I will be a year from now, or a month from now, or a week from now, or even tomorrow. Every single thing you experience, every person you encounter, every sight you see, every word you hear, every emotion you feel, has an impact on you. And as we're constantly experiencing, encountering, seeing, hearing, and feeling, we're constantly and subconsciously evolving into the people that we are going to be. So, all I want to do is point this out: everything you experience from here on out is going to lead you to become who you eventually become.
With that being said, I want to encourage you to experience new things, meet new people, see new sights, hear new sounds, and put yourself in the position to feel new emotions. This is your life. Do what you want with it! And although you don't have everything figured out right now, because that's just impossible, you have an idea of who you want to be someday. Everybody has a dream. Chase it! Go out and figure out what exactly it is that's going to help you grow into the person you want to be, and stick with it. But never, ever, ever forget where you come from or the person you are at this very moment, because you will always have that person somewhere inside of you. Once you throw your cap in the air tonight, all of your past experiences aren't just going to disappear. Everything that has sculpted you into who you are right now is still going to contribute to who you become. Nothing ends, nothing starts over. It's all a continuation. It's all a cycle of experiencing, encountering, seeing, hearing, feeling, evolving, and growing. No matter what you experience in the future and who you become, one thing will always remain true for every single one of us: we will always be the Class of 2014 and we will always bleed blue. These four years of high school have put us in the position that we are in right now- the position to go on and experience great things, encounter great people, see great sights, hear great sounds, and just feel great, and every single person on this floor should be proud to be able to say that they are a Corsicana Tiger.
And with that being said, I believe a bit of gratitude is definitely in order. While I cannot possibly thank everybody who has helped me get to this point, (as if a meager shout-out would be a sufficient show of my appreciation anyway), please know that if you played any role at all in contributing to the Caraline that is before you right now, you hold a special place in my heart, and I'm going to try to cover as many people as I can regardless.
Thank you to the teachers who have molded me into the student that I am today: To those of you who recognized and helped cultivate my love of learning at an early age. To those of you who have gone out of your way to see that I succeeded in whatever you were assisting me in. To those of you who were not only a teacher, but also a friend, and guided me as I confided in you. To those of you who taught me life lessons along with the classroom lessons, and have shown me unwavering support despite how crazy my ever-changing life goals may have seemed.
Thank you to my family who has molded me into the young lady that I am today: Mom, you basically went through high school a second time after accounting for all of the projects with which you helped me, material you helped me review, and all-nighters you pulled by my side to make sure that I wouldn't fall asleep studying. I can honestly say that I would not be giving this speech without your aid through the years. Through watching and receiving your selfless acts of love, I have learned to use my God-given gifts to serve others, which has directed me to the career path I have chosen to go down. Daddy, you have always been there to remind me of what really matters. Our many impromptu conversations regarding the big picture in life will not only remain some of my fondest memories, but also my most important lessons learned, and I am so thankful that I have been blessed with you as my tutor. Andey, I couldn't have asked for a better big brother and role model. You always know exactly what to say, and I know I will always be able to rely on you to calm me down, make me laugh, be brutally honest, or just remind me that you're there for me. Your words will always be my favorite words. Conner, your enthusiasm for the little things in life has always been so refreshing to me. While I was busy stressing out about something, I could always count on you to burst through my door and interrupt my train of thought to tell me what chapter you were at in a book, show me a new drawing, or give me one of your newest creations. It was always a pleasure to stop and look at life from your perspective. Evie, thank you for being whatever I needed, whenever I needed it. You've been so much more than my cousin — you've been my sister, my partner in crime, my advisor, my jester, my rock, and my best friend.
Above all, thank you to the Man upstairs. It was only through God's love and guidance that I have received this accolade, and I give all of the glory to Him.
Finally, thank you to my classmates. Thank you for contributing to who I am, and allowing me to contribute to who you are. I know that we can all honestly be proud of the champions that we have become together. I have one last thing to say to you, and although it may be the typical final salute you often hear in speeches of this sort, I genuinely mean this from the bottom of my heart: congratulations, CHS Class of 2014. We did it.

MaKenzie Lee, Salutatorian

Good evening students, parents, friends, loved ones, administrators and faculty. Although I may be a bit biased, tonight we are celebrating the graduation of Corsicana High School’s finest, the class of 2014. It is of great honor to stand before you tonight as the Salutatorian. Before I recite this somewhat traditional speech, I would like to give my fellow classmates a little insight behind my personal drive and determination as a student athlete and as someone who holds many leadership roles and responsibilities. In general, many people would not place “salutatorian” and “student athlete” in the same category. After researching, I discovered that the last African American Salutatorian was in my mom’s graduating class of 1982. Through countless attempts of her sharing many never ending stories of how the class of 1982 was the best at everything, I used this as my platform to be the next African American to graduate at the top of my class, and guess what? I DID IT! Although this has not been a very small feat, I want to emphasize that perhaps this is the most significant and life-altering achievement that I claim to this day.
As I sat down to prepare for this speech, many childhood memories came to mind and to be quite honest, it occurred to me that my journey ends here, but a new one will soon begin.  I thought about the time I walked into Mrs. Diane Hitt’s kindergarten class and remembered how I was so excited to finally start school, yet my parents were crying and I could not quite figure out why. The next thing I thought about was 6th grade — Drane Intermediate and boy was I terrified; however, I remember Mrs. Tracy Jordan making math fun. This anxious feeling returned when I became a freshman and with the blink of an eye, we are all seniors and now graduates. My most recent memories over the last four years of my life are cheer camp, pep rallies, Homecoming Week, volleyball and basketball playoffs with the Krush Krew and the huge crowd who supported those events. I remember Senior Night, team dinners, the many stresses of prom, finishing first place at the district track meet in the 4x100 relay, and PowderPuff football. All of these memories will forever hold a special place in my heart.  
Mr. O’Neil, I would like to personally thank you for being one of many who paved the way and made this journey possible for me. You demonstrate the qualities of a true leader by relating to each of your students in a special way and you have a desire to teach and inspire those around you. I thank God for blessing me with such a supportive group of people that I would not be where I am today without them in my life. I would also like to thank the Superintendent of the school district, Dr. Diane Frost, the school board members, the counselors, and the many educators who have always instilled a never-ending desire to learn within me, my coaches, my community, my church, and (I saved the best for last) my amazing parents and family members. Mom, Dad, the reason I am standing here today is all because of you. It is because of your guidance, support, encouragement, love, and expertise that I have accomplished so much within this time period of my life. You embody success at its best. Mom, I have always wondered how you managed to stay calm amidst my breakdowns of how I was going to get through this or that.  Your soothing tone of voice always seemed to alleviate some stress from my long list of things to do.  I remember the many nights you stayed up with me, encouraging me every step of the way not to give up. Dad, you are, by far, my biggest supporter in all that I do. There was not a time that I would look among the crowd and I did not see your smiling face cheering me on, whether it was a volleyball game, track meet, football game, or an academic event. I will always and forever be “Daddy’s little girl.” You both have sacrificed so much for Mariah and I and I would just like to say thank you. As your daughter, I vow to be the best I can be in hopes that all that I do is pleasing upon your eye. Mariah, despite normal sibling rivalries, we have gotten so much closer over the years. You are one of the few who kept me sane and never failed at placing a smile on my face during my times of struggle. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do without your lame jokes that somehow make me laugh, once I leave for A&M. I love you so much!
Now to my classmates, I want to thank you as well. Thank you for presenting me with so many memories, I truly cherish each and every one of you. Tonight’s graduation is more than just liberation from high school; it is a celebration of all, both good and bad, the amazing teachers, the friends lost and gained, and most importantly, a celebration of the future that awaits us all. This milestone marks the first of many new endeavors. As we begin this exciting and terrifying chapter of life, we must remember that we are not alone. We will always have each other, but most importantly, we have God, the granter of the gift that we will use to change society. I now challenge each of you. Instead of following the path of past generations and graduating classes, I challenge you all to make your own path. Do your best and be the best in your new journey of life. Remember along the way; be sure to impact someone’s life just as you have impacted mine. I will never forget all the friendships I have made with my teammates, teachers and administrators, and most importantly, all of you sitting before me.  
In closing, stated from the famous words of Maya Angelou, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
We are a family and we are the Class of 2014.  
Thank You

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