By Mark Viti, Valedictorian, CCHS Class of 2020
First off, I want us all to take the time to thank the family and friends who made this moment possible. From our parents helping with kindergarten reading assignments to our siblings driving us to practice, our families have supported our growth and achievement. We also must take a moment to celebrate the teachers, administrators, and staff who guided us to be both better students and people. They’ve worked extremely hard to make our goals possible, and their dedication to our learning should motivate us to become the best we can be in the years to come. Please take the time to reach out to your teachers, and thank them for the profound impact they had in all of our lives.
And now, having shown gratitude to those who supported our success, we come to the Class of 2020.
Like many of you, I recently returned to the high school to drop off my Chromebook and some textbooks. Sitting in the drop off line, I couldn’t help but relive many of my sweetest high school memories. I once again looked upon the student lot with its empty white spots we used to fill with both cars and excited chatter. My eyes wandered through the windows of the cafeteria and past the tables we would share before the first bell as timid underclassmen. I saw the main hall and stairs, now silent save for the memory of laughter. I watched as the cars of my classmates inched forward towards dropoff, just in the same way they used to inch forward in the lunch line. The weight of nostalgia was almost like wearing my backpack again.
It seemed impossible that joy could be found in those dismal circumstances. And yet, in the heart of such melancholy, something miraculous happened. A few sorrowful eyes met again for the first time in months. A few cautious waves and smiles ran through the line. Soon, genuine laughter was spreading.
It seems to me like there is nothing more contagious than positivity. As I sat in my car, I realized I had experienced another miracle during my time at Clarke. As many of you know, I transferred to the High School freshman year. I thought it was going to be impossible to make friends and fit in. However, I was received with what can only be described as a miraculous outpouring of kindness and compassion. I truly cannot thank you all enough for the miracle you all performed for me.
Reminiscing about our time in high school, I started thinking of all the other miracles we’ve already made happen; all of the odds we’ve already beat. At one point, we’ve all thought something was impossible. Remember trying to pass all those SOLs? Getting IB diplomas? What about winning District Championships? Getting jobs? What about winning state titles or applying to college or even graduating? Think about the most challenging obstacle you’ve faced. Remember how we thought some miracle would have to save us; how we pleaded for a snow day to save us from a hard test? Then remember how we probably were not saved, how we had to face our monsters head on.
But in the end, we’ve all made it, because here’s the secret: miracles don’t happen by chance. Hours of studying, of practice, of hard work enabled us to persevere. We haven’t been lucky all these years to get to this point: we’ve made it happen. Impossible is what we do; we work our own miracles. So hold onto the memories of the hard falls, the late nights, and the grueling practices. Cherish those impossible challenges as they are: the markers of our success.
Driving off from the high school that last time, I was smiling, knowing just how lucky I was to have been a part of a group of miracle workers. The good news is we are not finished. That’s the thing about miracles, they overcome the impossible.
We may be six feet apart or separated by hundreds of miles, but we will always make extraordinary things happen. 2020 may be a terrible year to some, but to us, it’s just another chance to show off our incredible powers.
Good luck Class of 2020! You will be successful in all your endeavors.