Top Two Seniors deliver praise to teachers, fellow students

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Portageville Salutatorian speaks of staying on the right track as you continue on past graduation during graduation exercises last Thursday at the Vic Reaves Athletic field. - Scott Seal photo

Below are the speeches as delivered by Salutatorian Haylie Hammack, and Valedictorian Cassidy Hughes.

Good evening everyone. The purpose of my speech is to welcome each of you tonight to our commencement ceremony. The hope of each of you listening tonight is that this speech will be brief. I will try to do both things well.

First of all, our senior class would like to welcome the Portageville school administration, teachers, school board, students, parents, and guests. Thank you all so much for being here this evening to mark this significant moment with our class,

the class of 2019. You have all had a profound impact on each of us students graduating today.

The noted humorist Will Rogers, not Mr. Rogers, ... once said, "Even if you're on

the right track if you don't move you will get run over."

I'd like to talk, briefly, about that track.

There are 50? of us here tonight getting ready to make our first walk across the stage to accept a diploma that signifies an end. This first walk is one spur on our track. It isn't our end destination, it's just the first part of our trip.

All of our efforts up to now have been with a goal in mind ...this night. And whether we choose the track that leads us to a college campus, a workplace, a military base or making a home, we are challenged to keep moving forward.

Look at tonight's achievement .. it took 13 long years to get here. We had a lot of help along the way, of course, but we walked in the doors each day, we listened to the lectures, we took the tests. Our diploma says we did it, our diploma shows we can succeed, our diploma is not just a participation award, and it is a trophy. We stayed on the track and we moved.

The next part of our journey may be right on time, it may be delayed, it may be detoured, but what is certain, with God's will, is that our choice of track determines our destination. Our ticket has been validated tonight, we have the right to move on. We have been equipped with the skills we need to pursue the path we choose and we know in our heal is that we have been loved and valued.

We, the Portageville graduating class of2019, are not all going the same way. This is where we say goodbye or see you later. However, we did all get here together.

We have this common bond now that will always define us as classmates. Our yearbook will show it, our memories will relive it, our future selves with a laugh and cry about it and it belongs only to us. I will forever cherish the fun memories that we have made throughout our years at PHS from cheering the boys on in the Dawg Pound, to winning the annual dodgeball (and tug-a-war) tournament every year and making the most of our senior trip to the ZOO.

So, on a personal note, please let me thank my classmates, my teachers, my principals, and my family for always pushing me to be my best and never giving up on me. My mom, dad, and brother Kolton are the spikes that hold the rails firm on my track, they make my ride smooth and help me at all the twists and turns. I am blessed with a big family support system and I know each of you have a family that you love and want to thank as well.

I began with a quote from Will Rogers so let me close with one from Mr. Rogers,

"Often when you find you're at the end of something, you're just at the beginning of something else."

This is our beginning, and it is a beautiful day in OUR neighborhood.

Good evening everyone and welcome to the graduation ceremony for the class of 2019. First and foremost, I'd like to thank God. I thank him for all that he has done for me and all that he has blessed me with. He has never failed me nor has he left my side no matter what I have faced. Through him, I have found my strength. Because of him, I have the courage to stand up in front of all of you tonight and speak. Next, I would like to thank a few different groups of people in my life.

I would like to thank my mom, dad, and brother. Thank all of you for always supporting me in everything that I do, always encouraging me to do my very best,

and for inspiring me to be the very best person I can possibly be. When life brought me down, y'all were always there to pick me back up. Y'all have made me who I am. I don't know what I'd do without y'all. I love each of you with all of my heart.

Thanks to all of the teachers I have had over the course of my life. Each of you has made an impact on me and are a huge part of the reason why I'm standing here today. I couldn't have made it without each of you. I know that your work often goes unappreciated and that sometimes you may feel as though you're not exactly the best teacher out there, but I promise that each of you is even if we don't show or tell you often. You have all been there for our class,

supported us, and did your best to help us succeed. Those are all qualities of great teachers, qualities that all of you have had. Thank you for help shaping me into the person who stands here today, ready to take on college because of all you've taught me.

Portageville Valedictorian Cassidy Hughes encourages her classmates to be M.A.D., always Make a Difference in last Thursday's commencement exercises. - Scott Seal photo!

To my class, thank you for giving me memories to last a lifetime. Thanks for the friendships I'll never forget that I hope last forever. I may not have been close to every one of you but I still love and care about each of you and your futures.

There's also a handful of people that aren't here today but have made a huge impact on my life and I am eternally grateful for that and the time I had with them. To my aunt Carla, I love you and wish you could see me today! I miss you!

To my Uncle Ed, I can feel you smiling down on me tonight! Uncle Junior, I miss you. I wish you were all still here with us but I know you are in a much better place!

For as long as I can remember, I have always looked forward to the day of graduation. I couldn't wait until I finished having to do seven hours worth of homework nearly every night and finally move on to the next chapter of my life.

The years of anticipation for this event led me to believe that I would be excited for that final day of high school. Instead, I spent last week mostly worried about finals and being reminded by Hannah Lerma every five seconds about our lasts of high school. It would be our last time walking that certain part of the hallway, our last time listening to Mr. Davidson try to motivate some of us to get some work done or listening to some of his Spotify playlists, and our last time begging Ms. Brands for the bonus.

It would be our last time trying to make at least some sense of some of the math problems that Mrs. Lynda gave us, our last time hearing Mrs. Heather reminds us to get our work out or begging her to do the most difficult parts of our projects. It would be our last time begging Mr. Norman to put our grades in or begging him to let us leave just a tad bit earlier even though he never budged, and even our last time just walking to lunch or pulling out of the parking lot.

Even as I was being reminded of all of these last moments, nothing really hit me that it was the last day until it was almost time for that final bell to ring at 3:10. Just like that, "it was all over. At that moment I realized that it was my last time seeing all of these "people" together every day, the last time listening to

Connor sing or rap on the way to the elementary school, the last time being able to hear Selinah and "Dasmine's booming laughter throughout the rooms, the last time" hearing all the boys complain about their t-charts in Coach Red's class, and the last time having to watch Lerma apply what seems to be an endless supply of lipgloss. Nothing would ever be like this again and I realized that again while writing this.

When I first sat down to write this speech, I wanted to be short and to the point for the first time in my life, but it's obvious that it's not exactly going to go that way. Right, Mr. Davidson? I had no clue what I would even say for the longest until I had a talk with my pastor, Brother Lovall, on Sunday who told me to go M.A.D. when I give my speech. For those of you who don't know, M.A.D stands for Make a Difference. Immediately, I knew that was the perfect message that I wanted to give to the class of 2019 so thanks to my pastor for the brilliant idea as well as inspiring me to step out of my comfort zone.

Each and every person here is unique and special in their own way.

Everyone has their own talents and passions that make them who they are.

Along with all of this, each individual was created with a purpose. It doesn't matter who you are, you have a purpose. Some may feel like they have close to nothing while others may seem to have nearly everything. However, you don't need everything the world has to offer to be able to have a purpose or to be happy.

One of my favorite scriptures, Jeremiah 29:11, states, "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." God is intentional with his plans and knows exactly what he's doing. He does everything for a reason and makes no accidents. Everyone here has a purpose. Everyone here has a plan.

Possessions won't always matter anyway, it's the people who stick by your side, care for you, encourage you, and love you that matter. Focus on the right things, the things that truly matter in life and you'll go far. I pray that if you don't already know what your purpose or plan in life is, that you find it and chase after it. It may be difficult, but you won't regret it in the long run.

I pray that each of you always remembers the importance of being kind to one another. For being kind is one of the many ways that you can make a difference and impact the world. Many of you have heard the quote, "Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." So many times we don't actually realize the truth in that sentence. There's a good chance that every person you come in contact with may be going through something. Sometimes, that can cause people to act differently. You never know what is going on in someone else's mind so treat them with kindness. Doing harm won't get you anywhere except across the street or that's the truth in high school at least. After all, I'm sure each of you would want someone to treat you kindly whether you be going through something or not. Be kind. Smile at each person you pass. Make sure to give out compliments when possible. Do your best to make at least one person smile each day, it won't only make them happier, but it will make you feel better on the inside too. You'll never feel bad for being kind.

Lastly, I pray that you all remember your roots, where you came from, and all the people in each of your lives that helped you get to this very moment. Take the time to thank those people that have made a difference in your life whether they be school faculty, family, peers, or someone you hardly even know. Go thank them and then go out there and do the same for someone else. Go M.A.D., go make a difference, because I promise that each and every one of you are capable of that and far greater things than you could ever imagine. In whatever career path you choose or wherever life takes you, Make a Difference!

I wish all of the class of 2019 the very best and I pray blessings over each of you. I can't wait to see what the future holds for all of you. I love you all!

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