Co-Valedictorians Vincent Cericola and Richard Daker had a lot to say to their fellow graduates Thursday evening at Evergreen Park Community High School's 2011 Graduation. Both tying for the coveted academic spot, the school chose not to have a salutatorian, but instead, have two valedictorians. Also, read Senior class co-president Rachel Sinon's final farewell to the EPCHS Class of 2011.
Vincent: Good evening parents, staff, and fellow students. As it may have become apparent, we are going to be doing things a little differently. Due to our unique situation as co-valedictorians, we decided to give a joint speech in the spirit of things. And just to clear the air right now, both of us are completely fine with sharing this speech. I mean, it’s not like this is a competition. Right?
Richard: Since we’ve got everybody here, we would’ve like to address one: many people have an annoying tendency to “accidentally” call us the other person’s name. For example, people quite frequently come up to me and say, “Hey Vince, what’s goin on?” *stare*
Vincent: They came to me and say “Hey Rich can you help me with my homework?” *stare*
Richard: We are two completely different people,ok? It makes no sense to us that this ever happens. I mean, just look at our high school careers. For example, I was involved in soccer all four years, I was inducted
Into the National Honor Society, I was on the Conference Champion Scholastic Bowl Team, I was part of the Future Business Leaders of America, and I was a State Mathletes, surely, completely unique Evergreen Park High School resume.
Vincent: As for me, I played soccer for four years, I am a National Honor Society member, my fellow Scholastic Bowl teammates and I won the Conference Championship this year, I competed as a Future Business Leader of America, and I am a repeated Mathlete State Qualifier; most definitely a distinctive set of high school activities.
Richard: So you see, everyone, we are two entirely different people.
Vincent: Yeah, there’s no reason why we should be confused for each other. Regardless, neither of us would who we are today if it were not for the distinctive educational experience that we have received here at Evergreen Park Community High School. Here at Evergreen, students have the opportunity to take a wide variety of possible high school memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Despite these fond memories, I think we can speak for most, if not all, of the graduates when we say we are glad to be done with high school.
Richard: An I know we can also speak for many when we say that we will miss this. We have had a great four years here at Evergreen; we have all accomplished things that we deemed impossible entering freshman year.
Vincent: We have had state athletes and state Mathletes and various other successes. These successes would not have been possible if it were not for the hard work and dedication of the participants and the valuable guidance and support of the faculty and staff.
Richard: We are the Class of 2011, a very special class. Our senior class has gone to great lengths to improve the school’s overall reputation, for a school is ultimately judged by the performance of its students. Some have gone so far as to call our class the best in the school’s recent history. Just sayin’.
Vincent: As we move forward, we must realize the uniqueness of our current situation. For the first time in our lives, furthering our education has become optional. At this point, we can legally decide our next step in life. Whether it be to purse higher education, to join the American workforce, to serve our country, or to choose a different path, we have the ability to decide for ourselves.
Richard: In choosing our direction, we must consider not only the turn, but also the road ahead. In making decisions, we must keep in mind our goals and values as well as the well as the long term effects of our actions. But we can stand here and give you advice for another 2 minutes, but nobody wants that. We haven’t really experienced the “real world” yet, but Vince and I have each come up with one thing that has worked for us so far.
Vincent: My best advice to be a “chameleon”. Adapt to your surroundings and use them to your advantage. Surround yourself with things that make you work harder. I know it doesn’t sound like something that anyone would want to do, but if you aim to improve yourself, there are not many better opportunities to do so than adapting to difficult situations. Your success should only be dependent upon yourself. And you really don’t know the extent to which you can accomplish until you put yourself into situations that force you to push your limits. Pushing my limits and adapting to the new environment has proved to be a valuable way for more to improve. This year I wanted to see exactly how I would do when my abilities were stressed to their limits. I chose a schedule consisting entirely of Advanced Placement and Honors classes to see if I could rise to the occasion. It wasn’t easy, but I was able to adapt to the larger workload and I still found time for my friends and family. I discovered that I could adapt to even the seemingly most difficult class load and still be successful. The point is, if you make yourself work harder for what you want, you will find that you can adapt and do things you wouldn’t think possible before. Ask any athlete what they do make themselves better. They force themselves to adapt and improve themselves. And you can apply that principle to essentially any aspect of life. The better you can cope with hard work, the faster you can improve. This gives credence to the phrase: “No pain, no gain.”
Richard: And my number one piece of advice for all of you is this: sometimes in life, you’ve got to be a little cocky. Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t mean going through life thinking you’re better than other people. I just mean a certain sense of confidence can go a long way. For example, this was the first year our school had a chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America, a nationally recognized business association for high school students. On the way to our first and only competition , we were very unsure of what to expect; other schools had a lot of experience that we didn’t have, and we were honestly going in feeling a little unprepared. As we pulled up to the competition, I turned to my team and said something along the lines of, “We may not know what we’re getting ourselves into here, but let’s just be cocky about it. Let’s ride through the day with pure cockiness and let’s win.” And everyone on our team placed in their respective competitions. We even had two second place winners: Mary Claire Coleman in Hospitality Management and Erin Graf in Impromptu Speaking, an area that she didn’t even know she would compete in. The point of all this is that confidence in yourself can get you far. The great Woodrow Wilson once said, “Self-confidence gives you the freedom to make mistakes and cope with failure without feeling that your world has come to an end…” This quote really embodies why confidence is important: it lets you bounce back after hard times and gives you a sense of hope that you can improve things. As someone who once scored 100% on an overconfidence survey, I can confidently say that confidence will be a valuable quality as you move forward in life.
Vincent: By now we have kept everyone waiting long enough, so we’ll wrap it up.
Richard: I’d like to thank my family, for always supporting me and giving me the confidence I needed to succeed.
Vincent: I would also like to thank my parents and the rest of my family for always being there for me and for giving me all the tools, both physical and mental, that got me here tonight. We would also like to thank the fantastic staff of Evergreen Park High School for a wonderful experience and for the useful knowledge and skills that they have given us.
Richard: We want to also thank all those who contributed to making out high school careers so memorable.
Vincent: And to our fellow 2011 graduates, congratulations!
Richard: We did it.
Rachel Sinon, Senior Class President Speech
Good evening, my name is Rachel Sinon and as the Senior Class Co-President, it is my distinct honor and privilege to take this first opportunity to welcome everyone to the Evergreen Park High School Class of 2011 Commencement Ceremony. Our class would like to thank the administration and school board, as well as the faculty and staff for their help and encouragement these past four years. They have shaped us into the young men and women you see here today. Additionally, I must recognize the continuous love and support given to each of us by our family and friends. What we achieve and the people we become are directly correlated to those who have helped us out along the way. Tonight, we celebrate the culmination of 4 years of hard work. We remember, however, that one important member of our senior class is absent. On May 6th of last year, the Evergreen Park community experienced an unthinkable heartbreak. We lost a member of our class, Danielle Sellers, in a tragic car accident. This year has been a difficult one for the class of 2011, and we have missed her every step of the way. We remember Danielle for her beautiful smile and for being a friend to us all. She taught us to find joy in everything and to live life to the fullest. She will remain in our hearts forever as her tree will remain in the courtyard. Today we keep our guardian angel, Danielle, in our thoughts and memories as a member of the class of 2011. *At this time, I would like to call up Danielle’s parent to the dais to accept her Honorary Diploma on behalf of Danielle.* Even in the wake of tragedy, our senior class has shown their immeasurable strength. With the love and support of each other, our families, our friends, the teachers, and the staff, I have no doubt in my mind that we will succeed in our future endeavors. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this momentous evening, and welcome to the graduation of the Evergreen Park High School Class of 2011.