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South High Graduation Speech

“You just put a message in a bottle and threw the bottle out to sea. What is the message?” This question was presented to me in one of my college applications. At first I searched for a meaningful quote by Gandhi and then I thought of a great line from a Dave Matthew’s song but I realized that wouldn’t be me or even my own words. So, I sat back, envisioned myself on the seashore and the message came to me, I wrote: “Let me stay on this island just a little while longer.” 


My first instinct had been to write what I thought the admissions board wanted me to write about. But how did I really know what they wanted? Over the last four years many of us have tried to distinguish ourselves from fellow students but, the pressure can be suffocating–keeping up good grades, doing well on APs, scoring high on the SATs, staying involved with clubs, and starting on sports teams. There will always be one person who did more. So, I decided to answer the question honestly instead of creating a message I believed they wanted to hear.


I explained, if I could stay on the island just a little longer, I could relax, take a break from worrying about getting the approval of a college board or anyone for that matter. On the island I could dare to be myself—take a stroll along the sandy beach, dig a hole in the sand or lie down allowing the sun’s rays to warm me.


I know that I’m not likely to find myself stranded on a deserted island any time soon but, why not take what I would do on that island and apply it to my life right now? Don’t get me wrong, I believe hard work and dedication are important but, I also think we have to be true to ourselves. We should not obsess about doing what we think others want us to do. I’ve begun to apply this deserted island lesson to my life this year and it has made senior year my favorite year at Great Neck South. 


The end is where we begin. This was selected as the theme for our graduation. I didn’t get to use the Dave Matthews’ lyric in my college essay but I think it is relevant to our graduation theme. Dave Matthews sings that “the future is no place to place your better days.” As we end our high school career today, the time is now to start living our message in a bottle. For me that means working hard and remaining dedicated while also making sure to do what I enjoy. I challenge you to think about YOUR message. What words would you place in that bottle?  Once you find them, put them into action. Don’t wait for the future because today is the future.