speech written and delivered at the 2017 Commencement by Xiangge (Coco) Zhao '17.
Dear students, faculty, staff, and family members:
Good morning, my name is Coco Zhao. Thank you all for coming to the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2017. We appreciate your participation.
Today, I am here, on behalf of my class, to speak to you visitors about our class character and to speak to you my classmates about how we can achieve our future goals by remembering our past together.
A few weeks ago, my friend Lula said: “This is your last essay of high school.” I nodded and told her that I wanted to make this as good as I can. But when I started to write this speech, I lost all my ideas. My class, 22 of us, never stops arguing: we are a class of unique individuals who believe strongly in our perspectives, so when we gather and share our opinions, things often heat up. But one thing we can agree on is that we are all ready. While we are achieving our goals, no matter what they are -- going off to the right colleges, starting new relationships, or just hanging in there -- most of us are eager to leave this space, and start a new journey right at this moment.
“It’s ok. We will keep in touch.” I have heard this comment a lot. As a person who graduated from a middle school, who said the same thing but hasn’t seen most of her friends for four years, I doubt it. Maybe you are tired of the classes; maybe you want to escape from the community you see every day and meet new people. But don’t forget HERE, because there will never be the same place as here, not before, nor in the future.
I am not holding on to yesterday, to make you all cry or become bored. Before I move on, there is just one moment I would like to share with all of you.
The second to the last day of September, do you still remember? Mountain Day, the most traditional tradition of SBS’s history, all the seniors woke up… I don’t know how everyone else managed without sleeping, I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m., and prayed that “God, please help me wake up tomorrow morning,” and I slept. The next day, when I was still in my pajamas, I rushed down to reception, not expecting everyone would be there, or that I would be one of the earliest people there. And I was wrong, everyone, or almost everyone was there: warriors, waiting to attack once the signal was given. “Coco is here.” “Ok, who else is not here?”
As a class, we have met many difficulties together, but at the same time, those bumps made us stronger, and more united. For me, it is one of the memories I will never forget, and I believe all of you will cherish what unified our class.
I know you are waiting for me to describe how crazily my classmates ran around the hallways to wake up the poor underclassmen, but if I continue, the ceremony will not end on time.
My dear classmates, what I want to do is not only call up your memories, but I want to tell you that there are many things you can throw away during your journey, and there are many important pieces you just should not get rid of. Each one of us must have some special memories from here; I wasn't expecting to have any fun at an all-girls school, but I am telling you, I have: having great weekend brunch specials (Thank you Jeff), playing sports with all kinds of girls that made the teams unique, and teasing each other in the Senior Asian Squad.
And my class, the group of people that I love, I won’t deny the statement “your class is quite combative,” I admit this point, because we argue, we care: we care about the progress to make our life better in school, we care about how to make sure other people see us as seniors, we care about ourselves. All of you are sitting here now, but I don’t know how many of you are thinking about stepping away from the school and exploring the world. Here, I quote the credo from my middle school: 饮水思源, which means while you are drinking the water, never forget where the water source is. We are all travellers, but one day, we will all return to the same point. Thus, it is my plea, and I hope the next time we meet again, we won’t forget who we are and what we will always have in this place.
Congratulations, Class of 2017, in this long journey ahead, I hope you all will look up, and enjoy the life you have.