2023 Valedictory and Salutatory Addresses

Mae-Ying Stock-Bordnick, Class of 2023 Valedictorian

"Good evening, everyone. I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who supported our class throughout our high school careers, whether that be family, friends, faculty and staff, or anyone else who lent a helping hand over these past few years. We could not have done this without all the support you have shown us. 

I was encouraged to center my speech around the future. As someone who doesn't know the course of my own future, I wondered, “How am I supposed to tell other people about their futures when I’m still working out my present?” So, I took to the internet, hoping to find an inkling of inspiration, some words of wisdom, anything really, and an idea that came up a lot was “Be Yourself.” Just be yourself, and everything will work out. But, what does this phrase really mean? It might seem obvious. You see this phrase and others like it all around on TV, social media, in novels, plays, etc., etc., but this seemingly simple phrase contains nuances that should be noted. At first glance, it seems to represent the idea of “feeling confident in yourself and not changing your values to conform to negative societal norms”. On a deeper level, however, it seems to carry this idea of stagnancy. That wanting to change who you are is something unnecessary because it means that you’re not being “true to yourself”, whatever that means. But change doesn't necessarily mean change for the worse. Therefore, I think a better idea to emphasize is flexibility. 

As Ella mentioned, the past few years, especially for our class, have been full of change. From creating a new mascot to the entire pandemic, our class has faced a lot of change in a few, short years, and I think that we’ve risen to the challenges thrown our way beautifully. However, being flexible means more than just being good at adapting to change. It means listening to other people, and trying to understand their side, even when you don’t agree with them, or even like them. It means finding a balance between respecting other views and standing firm in your own values. To be flexible means to bend, not to break. It doesn’t mean that you have to change yourself completely, or that you even need to change at all. It just means that when change comes, you’ll be ready to face it and come out as a better person because of it. We’ve just received our diplomas. A whole lot of change is about to come our way, and we too must change in order to not only confront these new experiences, but to grow and to thrive from them.

So, don’t just be yourself. Be better than yourself. Be kinder than you think you are. Work harder than you think you can. Be flexible. Believe in the best of yourself and watch it become reality. We saw what happened when we embraced the Phoenix mascot, creating a legacy we’re proud to leave behind, and I know we can do it again, and again, and again, no matter what comes our way, blazing a trail ever brighter as we create the future that we want to see. Thank you all for your time, and I wish you all the best of luck."

Ella Chevis, Class of 2023 Salutatorian

"Good evening everyone! Before I begin my reflection on the past years, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone present today. Without the support and encouragement from parents, teachers, family and friends, our class would not be standing here today as unified and as strong as we are. Though this is a time of embracing newfound independence, it is just as important to recognize the efforts of our loved ones and all that they do for us. We may be proud, but let us not forget to be thankful. 

Traditionally, it is the job of the salutatorian to give a speech looking back at their class and how they have grown over the years. However, for me personally, sometimes I find it difficult to look back. Not just because of the terrible haircut I may or may not have had, but because I’ve grown and changed along with our class so much that I find it somewhat difficult to recognize the girl I see in the past as me. I’ve been at Ursuline since third grade, and to say there have been many changes over the years is a bit of an understatement. I’m sure everyone knows what I mean when I say that our class is no stranger to drastic changes. 

When my mother first suggested that my two sisters and I transfer to Ursuline, I promptly began to throw a fit. I cried on the top of the stairs for probably an hour because I was petrified, terrified of such a huge change in my relatively problem-free second grade life. But as I began coming to school here, I realized that it totally wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Everyone was friendly and inviting and completely willing to enter the Squinkie and Littlest Pet Shop trading business with me. We were entrepreneurs at a very young age. I remained at Ursuline from third grade all the way until seventh grade, where it came time for me to choose a high school. I visited other local schools, but ultimately decided to stay at Ursuline, because it was the place I felt most comfortable and welcome at. Ironically, my attempt at avoiding any opportunities for change placed me in the environment of never-ending fluctuation that is this class.

As the years have gone by, all of us have had to deal with big changes. However, we have learned that sitting on the stairs and throwing fits gets us nowhere. Instead of holding onto things of the past that cannot and should not be held on to, we have embraced and come to love the changes that have occurred in our lives. Whether it be changing up your appearance, making new friends, moving, or, as I’m sure we are all collectively thinking, changing mascots, the class of 2023 always actively avoids sitting still. 

And there you have it. All of us made it through five years of high school, but we didn’t just survive: we flourished and changed and grew, and our ability to embrace change is something that I believe everyone should strive to keep. Our determination and ability to come together as well, despite our many differences, is what allows us to succeed in many of our endeavors. One thing in particular that comes to my mind is the tradition of Rally: we all went from being nervous eighth graders who were happy just participating to seniors winning everything we possibly could and having a great time while doing it.  While it definitely is not the only example of our growth and unity, I find it to be one that illustrates these qualities very well. I am so proud of our class for making it this far and I know we are going to go on to do great things in the future. Go lions, go phoenix, go class of 2023! It’s been an honor to grow up with you all. Thank you!