Polk County High School’s valedictorian speech from Alessandra Akers

Published 10:02 pm Monday, June 10, 2013

Alessandra Akers gives her valedictorian address. (photo by Leah Justice)

Alessandra Akers gives her valedictorian address. (photo by Leah Justice)

I used to believe that my life was a course that was already set. That fate had paved a path for me before I even knew that paths existed, and I was simply supposed to follow. But lately, I seem to have lost sight of that belief.

At this time, three days ago, I was on my way back from freshman orientation. I spent two days signing up for classes and learning about the place that would be my home for the next four years.  I spent two days starting my life half a state away before my life here had even come to a close.

At this moment, I am a freshman at Chapel Hill and I am also a senior standing on this stage, saying goodbye to my high school, to my classmates, to my community.

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It’s a strange feeling, but if I have learned anything in the past four years, it’s that life isn’t predetermined.

The way I see it, life is a collage of little pieces – places and people and moments in time – some overlapping, some a few steps away.  And every little piece of the collage tells a story – one that has its own beginning, and inevitably, its own end.

Unfortunately, we are rarely allowed to spend enough time in each of these fragments of our lives: so often, we must leave one place while pieces of our hearts remain there. I will not hesitate to say that Polk County High School is a piece of my life that I am reluctant to leave behind.

I believe that most people can agree that there is something intangibly special about Polk County. That for such a small, rural community, we make a huge impact on the lives of people around us. And I am so proud that I will be representing this place for the rest of my life.

As much as I will miss what I have experienced here, I know how important it is to move on. To step onto my next piece of life with eager eyes and open palms and to find my place. Just like I know that the people sitting around me will.

I think one of the most vital lessons we can learn is to find a way to morph the world around us to fit comfortably on our shoulders. To make the place in each situation you encounter that was meant for you, and for you alone, whether that be right here or in a completely new community.

I firmly believe that once you are where you are meant to be, your decisions and your actions will begin to form your next piece to the collage. And your life will be created as you go, one unique piece at a time, the next step forming as you prepare to leave the current one. All the endings will connect to the new beginnings.

In T.S. Eliot’s words, words that will always be wiser than mine, “The end is where we start from.”

Congratulations Class of 2013.