A class full of heroes: Ghidotti valedictorian spins tale of high school adventures | TheUnion.com

A class full of heroes: Ghidotti valedictorian spins tale of high school adventures

Brighten Drake
Ghidotti Early College High School

Editor’s note: Graduation season has begun, and The Union will run photos and text from planned student speeches from many of the high schools in the area. The first is from Wednesday night’s Ghidotti Early High School graduation.

Hello Everyone, I am honored to able to address you today. But this speech is not about me. In fact, it is not much of a graduation speech at all, it is more of a story. A story with an important journey and a beautiful coming-of-age subplot to keep your emotional side satiated.

Let me take you through a classic hero’s journey to explain. As observed throughout literature, the hero’s journey begins and ends in the hero’s ordinary world, but the quest passes through an unfamiliar, or peculiar, world.

In this case, that “peculiar world” is high school, but it’s not quite like any other high school. This school trades football games for movie nights and teenage boy bands for Star Wars Kazoo Tributes.

The heroes of our story, a group of wide-eyed, skittish 14 year olds, start their journey standing in front of the bell tower that you see behind me. Too intimidated to face upperclassmen in the cafe and too afraid of getting lost to venture out for their first period class, these students flock together and find safety in numbers. It is here that our heroes begin to connect and lean on one another.

They continue to lean on each other as they begin to face adversity in the form of spontaneous assessments of learning and MLA formatting. It is a good thing too, since our heroes will need all the help they can get if they are going to make it back to the land from whence they came.

As our heroes struggle along their way they start to pick up a few tricks. They figure out what vending machines have the best snacks and they learn that they can distract a certain English teacher by getting on the topic of flyfishing.

Some of them can even sign into the tutoring center without having to look up their Sierra College ID number every time. As our heroes learn more about this peculiar world, they begin to rise through the ranks. They become Sierra College tutors and leaders of dance committee. They learn that making friends with Sierra College students is actually not as terrifying as they once thought.

But it is when these heroes are at their highest that they face the biggest threats. SAT’s, college essays, and senior internships threaten to stop our heroes right where they stand.

As the plot thickens, they face their darkest hour, when crisis is at hand. Just as it seems all hope is lost when faced with a college rejection, when it seems like they can’t get out of bed, or make it through the week without a red slip, they escape the jaws of imminent senioritis and snatch the treasure!

The treasure … is a piece of paper. But anyone who has been in Mrs. Mason’s English class knows that a piece of paper can symbolize so much more.

As our heroes end their journey, they return to the ordinary bell tower where it all started four years ago. But they are not the same characters that embarked on their journey as skittish 14-year-olds. Our heroes are wiser, more confident, and more aware of who they are.

Yes, some would boast of a triumphant end for our heroes. But this is not the end. It is merely the beginning of act two. An exciting sequel is awaiting all of our heroes and it is up to them to decide where to take it.

Some will follow this call to the big screen, some to the computer screen. Some to sunscreen, which is what we really need right now.

No matter what adventure these heroes pursue, and what trials they face, they will triumph. I can say this confidently because I know these heroes, and am proud to say that I’ve spent the last four years fighting battles right alongside them. Ahem … just in case any of you guys out there still think I’ve been describing Harry Potter, this is where you realize the heroes are the senior class and its all sentimental, blah, blah.

So parents, friends, teachers, and mentors, please give yourself a pat on the back. We’ve made it! There is no stopping us now!

And heroes, it is our time, so don’t let anything hold you back. It is time to go forth, and conquer!

Brighten Drake is the 2018 valedictorian at Ghidotti Early College High School.

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