As typical teenagers, we have all been guilty of saying the phrase “I can’t wait to get out of this town” far too many times. There is truth to this statement, though. I know many of us can’t wait to explore, not only what is outside of Franklin, but who we are beyond our hometown. Wanting this for ourselves doesn’t mean that we don’t love or appreciate this town, because how could we not? Simpson County, for some of us, has been our home for almost 2 decades now. It has provided us much more than just an address; for some of us, it’s where we’ve won a district championship, spent numerous Friday nights under the lights, made life-long friends, experienced rich traditions that one day, we will miss. It’s where we got our first job, or our first boyfriend or girlfriend, and even our first heartbreak. It’s given us our friends and family that we fall back onto in the tough times or celebrate with in the best times. And now, it gives us an opportunity... it’s time to move forward, no matter how unclear or scary our futures may be.
As we march forward let’s not forget who got us here or where we came from. Because no matter your feelings for me, your classmates, or this town, rather you hate it or you want to come back, it’s undeniable that you are the person sitting in those chairs today because of this town and because of each other. So I urge you to be grateful. Be grateful for the good and for the bad. May the good build your confidence and the bad teach you valuable lessons.
This past year has been nothing short of disappointing. We missed our true first day of senior year, we missed homecoming, we missed each other, and worst of all we lost loved ones. If the pandemic has taught you anything, I hope it has taught you to be grateful to be alive. Be grateful to have each other, and even be grateful for the things and people that challenge you. I know that if we do this, if we are grateful for our accomplishments and our failures, that when we return in 5, 10, 15 years for class reunions, that we will have become bigger than our hometown. Class of 2021, I’m so proud of you and proud to see what a great support system you have in these stands. To all of those who have helped us along the way, thank you. We appreciate you being here today and as we celebrate this momentous occasion.