The salutatorian has been counting down the days, weeks and hours.
Courtney Leonard, during her salutatorian speech on Friday evening, said that during her time in the district she has seen it change and watched many a friend come and go.
“It’s those friends that have been with you for so long that you build such a strong bond with that make such an occasion like this bittersweet,” she said. “We count down as soon as we enter high school how many years we have left until we can get out of what we call such a horrible place.
“Then when our senior year comes along, we start counting the months, then weeks and, lastly, the last couple of days we have left.
“Even though we can’t wait for it to be over, I can’t help but feel sad and a bit scared.”
It’s obvious just by her voice that these last weeks have been emotional.
“Some days would get so stressful, and I couldn’t be happier to say I only had a couple more weeks or days left in this place,” she said.
Other days, she would not want her high school years to end.
“But I knew I had to face it. One day I would have to graduate and move on, because life goes on,” she said.
Leaving home behind
For Courtney, facing the future means leaving the comfort and familiarity of Skidmore-Tynan ISD and facing the big city.
“There have been times when I’ve questioned going to the University of Texas,” she said. “Mainly because of the burden it’s going to put on my parents.
“They told me they didn’t care how hard it’s going to be, because they want their little girl to achieve the best education she can.
“I hope one day I can raise my child exactly like they raised me.”
It is this support that she will miss.
“As much as all of us can’t wait to get out in the real world and live on our own with no rules, inside we really are pretty scared to not have such an amazing backbone supporting us along the way,” she said.
Words from the
Amber Hughlett, in her valedictory address, said that she wasn’t going to offer advice.
“Instead of giving you advice, or telling you what to do, I am going to tell you the things I have picked up along this awful, difficult, amazing, incredible, fascinating, adventure we call high school,” she said. “The first thing that I picked up within the first few days of athletics came from Coach (Joseph) Grimes, and that is, ‘Don’t think — know.’”
She admits that this advice seemed questionable at first.
“I was puzzled. How in the world can you know something without ever thinking about it?” she questioned herself. “When making a decision, I should commit to it fully, never do anything halfheartedly.”
Lessons of family
From her family she learned to chase her dreams and to never be satisfied with mediocrity.
“In life, I will face many victories and many defeats,” she said. “In the past four years, I have realized that no matter how independent I want to be, it is always important to have people behind me, guiding me every step of the way.”
Life she said, is about experiences.
“Experience whatever you decide to do after today fully, with an open mind and an open heart,” she said. “These four years have been the best of our lives to date, but I challenge you to make your next four years even better.”