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123 South Webb Road
Grand Island, NE 68802
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Sarah Koubek's Class of 2016 Graduation Speech

The following is the speech Sarah Koubek gave to her fellow members of the Grand Island Senior High graduates of the Class of 2016:

President of the Board of Education, Bonnie Hinkle; Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Winter; Principal, Jeff Gilbertson; faculty; parents; family; friends; and the Grand Island Senior High Class of 2016 ...

When I am done here giving this speech, yes, I am starting my speech by already talking about the ending, we are all going to stand in line and wait an extra two hours after the 18 years we have already spent waiting for this day. All to get a piece of paper and a handshake. It seems like scam, right? I mean, we spent year after year doing endless amounts of homework, studying, pulling our hair out over tests, and all for a piece of paper? Except tomorrow morning, we are going to wake up with a graduation cake hangover, and the first thing on our minds will be our future.

It might seem like kind of an anticlimax. I mean, a majority of what we've spent our adolescence doing is preparing for this. For the day we "become adults" whatever that's supposed to mean. The end of almost every sentence that we are told goes something like "you'll need to know this in the future", "you need to pass this test to graduate so that you can have a successful future".

The piece of paper tells us that we've done everything right up to this point. We did what we were told to do. We passed the tests, we completed the homework. So where's the successful future we were promised? I mean, I can't really think too far ahead of all the graduation cake I'm going to eat after this, but I'm pretty sure my distant future involves sleeping past noon every day this summer.

Eventually we will go off to college, or move out of the house, or get a job, or get married etc. Which seems pretty great, and whatnot, but it also seems like a terrifying amount of responsibility considering just last week I had to ask for a bathroom pass. I know more about the quadratic formula than how to file taxes or buy a house. And I'm pretty sure there's not a catchy jingle to go with the latter two.

Most of the studying we did throughout high school was for the tests. Sure, you can tell me all about how interesting the mitochondria is, but in reality, we sat in class and listened to a lecture to fill out C on a scantron and move on with our lives.

Now, we move onto a different kind of test. As John Green puts it,

"The test will measure whether you are an informed, engaged, and productive citizen of the world, and it will take place in schools and bars and hospitals and dorm rooms and in places of worship. You will be tested on first dates, in job interviews, while watching football, and while scrolling through your Twitter feed. The test will judge your ability to think about things other than celebrity marriages, whether you'll be easily persuaded by empty political rhetoric, and whether you'll be able to place your life and your community in a broader context. The test will last your entire life, and it will be comprised of the millions of decisions that, when taken together, will make your life yours. And everything, everything, will be on it."
The piece of paper you get today symbolizes all of the preparation you have done for the test of life. Sure, the quadratic formula and cell diagram are important, but a lot more goes into that diploma. We have learned how to problem solve, how to innovate, how to be disciplined enough to wear a lanyard around our necks every day, how to work with other people and how to be a good friend. Those things may not be accounted for in our GPA, but they will help us on the test to come.

From stage lights to Friday night lights, we've played our hearts out and supported each other through our successes and our failures. We've worn purple and we've been gold. Not to mention, we've endured 10 summits, which is quite the record for only being 18 years old.
Tomorrow morning we are going to wake up with a piece of paper. But we are also going to have the memories, the experiences and the knowledge that we've gained from our time here at senior high. We are going to do great things.

Gavin Degraw once said, "Part of where I'm going is knowing where I'm coming from". We will move out, we will become doctors or lawyers or NFL players or singers on The Voice. We will become husbands and wives and parents. But we will always be Islanders. And even though we may no longer wear purple, we will continue to be gold.

Congratulations Class of 2016.


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