Valedictorians kept their remarks short and to the point Sunday during Hastings High School’s graduation ceremony.

Principal Thomas Szlanda introduced the five valedictorians of the 2019 graduating class: Kalim Dumas, Lilliany Kingsley,  Jefferson Mai, Thomas O’Connell and Davis Turpen.

Dumas set the tone for the succinct speeches. He said most valedictorians use their speeches to make a point or be inspiring. He said the world is too complicated to be rationalized through a speech.

“We’re all just individuals trying to get through life,” he said. “We just need to support each other and stick by each other through life.”

Kingsley said that the school’s valedictorians were selected based on academics, but there would be others chosen to take the stage if another metric was used, such as life hardships.

“I’m in no way wiser than my classmates,” she said.

Kingsley quoted a portion of a speech from Theodore Roosevelt about taking risks and doing your best.

To her, the main thing she took away from the speech was that people will make mistakes, but trying your hardest is what counts.

“I used to care an unhealthy amount of what others think of me,” she said. “At the end of the day, I’m going to fail sometimes. But I want to be the kind of person who takes risks.”

Mai said his speech was to fulfill a promise made to his parents two years ago that he would speak at graduation if selected as valedictorian.

He also thanked his close friends for being there over the last four years.

“I will probably never see 90% of you guys again but I wish you the best in your lives to come,” he said.

O’Connell said his mother convinced him to give a speech.

“She also told me to not embarrass her,” he said. “I think I succeeded in doing just that though.”

He thanked the class for being accepting of him as a junior coming into the senior class. He thanked all the parents and family members who helped make graduation possible, and credited his fellow graduates for the hard work needed to make it.

“We made it,” he said. “We’re done. We should be proud of ourselves.”


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