Polk County High School 2011 salutatorian gives speech

Published 6:45 pm Thursday, June 14, 2012

Editor’s note: Polk County High School 2012 salutatorian Cole Pellatt gave the following speech at the school’s graduation ceremony held Friday, June 8.
So here we are.
High school is over.
Never again will we come up that same old driveway and enter those same old doors as students of Polk County High School. Never again will we hear someone ask, “How was school today?” not knowing that we don’t care how it was, we were just happy to get out of there alive each day.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but everyone did face some rough patches at one point or another.
Like our slightly under par senior prank or how my friends still harass me about holding the “unofficial” school record for accidentally scoring the most goals against my own soccer team this past season. But I know now that that good-natured teasing is something I will always remember fondly. Because if you stop and think about it, all of what you have experienced in life, the good and the bad, are what make you who you are today.
Without all the high points and without all the embarrassing moments, you would not be the person you are. Class of 2012, you might not be sitting in those seats waiting to hear your names announced as graduates of Polk County High School.
Yes, we did all face some rough times in high school, but that’s just part of growing up and facing each of our own impending adulthoods. We are all standing at the starting line of the rest of our lives, some of us perched in the blocks ready to take off, others still tightening our laces, taking our time, making sure we take in all of the childhood we have left. It’s not much, and what’s already passed has gone more quickly than we ever imagined it would. I feel like I’ve been in a daze since high school started. The time has flown by so quickly.
Whenever I look back to my freshman yearbook, I can hardly believe the little boy with a mop of bushy hair, who waited way too long to start shaving his face, has grown into the man who stands before you today. We’ve all developed as people more in these past four years than at any other point in our lives. We’ve had tastes of independence that have been tiny samples of how much responsibility the rest of our lives will demand of us. But we’ve also seen how the futures each of us face will be rewarding, fulfilling and the most fun any of us has ever experienced.
All these people here supporting us in this first major step in our lives will always support us just as strongly as they do today. The school that stands there behind us, will forever stand behind us as a testament to the great things we have already accomplished, and to how well it has prepared us to face all the other great challenges life will throw at us.
And just as the class of 2012 now prepares to stand together one last time to face this one last hurdle, we will each find new groups of people who will also stand together with us to face the rest of life’s challenges. For some of us, those groups may be mostly made up of the same people who stand together today.
But we cannot expect to linger in this moment. Life is always progressing and changing; we must do the same. We must always carry onward.
We cannot choose to idle here, at the brink of discovering ourselves and the potential each and every one of us has to be great. To do so would be to ignore the dedication and work that those people, this school and these classmates, these friends, have put into preparing us to go out and make the best of ourselves. Polk County High School has challenged you to push yourself to discover what it is that drives you, what it is that makes you happy, what it is that you were meant to be a part of, and to make yourself part of it. Warm up is over.
We must now become our own guides to our futures. Each of us is about to begin our life’s journey. One of my favorite authors once wrote, “The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow if I can.”
Class of 2012, follow your road. Dare to dream about what’s just over the next hill, but only if dreaming makes you march with that much more determination. Experience the road and embrace the challenges it offers. Look behind you every once in a while, but march ever forward.
When the road you’re on no longer feels right to you, find another road or make your own. You have been given the tools you need. Now comes the time to use those tools to become the people you all have the potential to be.
From now on, you are the masters of your own fates. The rest of your lives is up to you.

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