St. Joseph Valedictorian: Experiences shared can never change

Matthew J. Cenci is the St. Joseph High School Valedictorian for the Class of 2016.
Matthew J. Cenci is the St. Joseph High School Valedictorian for the Class of 2016.

Good morning Msgr Powers, Mr. Herbst, Dr. Fitzgerald, Dr. Keane, Mrs. DiBuono, Mr. Butler, Mr. Dempsey, Fr. Novajosky, Mrs. Anderson, Mrs. Piatak, teachers, faculty, friends and family, and the class of 2016.

I’ve always questioned the long winded “Good Mornings” that open every speech here at St. Joe’s, although I’ve come to realize that it is one of our many traditions here, and serves a purpose. We welcome the administration because they run the school, and won’t let me graduate if I don’t welcome them personally. We welcome the students because without us there would be no graduation, or at least it would be a very short one. Lastly, we welcome our teachers, friends and family because they are the ones who have taught and supported us throughout these last four

One of the first things my parents taught me is your basic manners, such as saying please and thank you. Saying thank you has just become an instinctual response for me at this point. I’ll thank people for small things like when someone gives me a potato chip at lunch or picks up my pen after I drop it. We thank people for minor gestures, not because of the importance of their actions but because of the kindness the action shows. We thank people for nearly anything, and yet there have been countless home cooked meals, rides to school, dollars spent, and lost hours that I’ve allowed to go thankless. So, speaking for our entire class, I want to thank our parents and family for the support they’ve offered us, and constant sacrifices that we take for granted.

Today isn’t the day where we instantly transform from children into adults. (Or at least from high school students into whatever you would call college students). Instead, that transition has come gradually over the last four years. I say gradually because there’s really no specific days that I can pick out where anything changed drastically. In fact, aside from a few events, most school days are pretty uneventful. But, to paraphrase Mr. Mayo, while it may seem like we do nothing each day, we are in fact doing something.

It’s human nature to reduce our daily lives into nothings. We fall into a routine. We get up, we go to school, we go to class, see our friends, go to practice or clubs, and then we go home.

We do this every day for four years and nothing really stands out anymore. It’s easy to forget the significance of these events. The friendships we have today weren’t made in a specific moment.

Instead they developed naturally, growing stronger with each conversation we shared, or each challenge we overcame together. I never felt that it was worth it to come home and say “hey mom, I talked with people in study hall today.” Yet, somehow these conversations have culminated into the strong friendships that I now have.

We rarely acknowledge the small events that make up our lives. We celebrate the championship game and ignore the practices. We might be tempted to celebrate our graduation and forget about the 724 days of school that have lead up to this moment. In reality, today is just a milestone to celebrate the day by day moments that have defined our high school experience.

Today is one of the rare days where we can collectively look back on these moments. As a class, we’ve won championships in football, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, cheerleading, even bowling. We’ve also had seasons where the only win felt like a championship, such as in field hockey and volleyball. We’ve grown both physically and mentally. Along the way we acquired an education and developed skills that will help us throughout our lives.

I wish I could say that everything we’ve developed here at St. Joe’s will last us the rest of our lives, but we’ll continue to change day by day and probably not even notice it. Some of our friendships will fade, replaced with new ones. We’ll continue to gain new knowledge, building on the old. We’re going to face new challenges and obstacles, and we’ll have both successes and failures. At some point we’re going to look back on college in the same way we look back on high school now.

C.S Lewis said, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when we look back nothing is the same. Maybe in a year, maybe in four years, we’re going to look back and say “wow, I’ve changed since high school.” Yet, no matter how much we change, the experiences that we’ve shared here at St. Joe’s can never change. As we grow and time distances us from St. Joe’s, the minor stresses and disappointments will be forgotten. Our memories will shift into nostalgia, allowing us to laugh at our mistakes and relive our favorite moments for the rest of our

Thank you, and congratulations to the class of 2016.

Now I’d like to ask the class of 2016 to stand, and join me in saying our graduation pledges.