Graduation Speech: Prime Time


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The age of reality TV has arrived. There's a different show on every night of the week. And I hate to admit it, but once you get started on a series, it becomes pretty addictive. They should have a disclaimer when they roll the credits or something. Now don't deny it, I know you've all fallen into the trap, too. You promise yourself you're only going to watch for ten minutes to see what all the craze is about, and 45 minutes later you're still watching, but wondering why you just wasted your time. That happened to me when "Married By America" came out. I honestly think that was one of the worst reality shows yet! I didn't watch it religiously, but there were a few episodes that I got suckered into. So which show is your favorite? Let's take a look at our TV Guide. ...


It's Monday night. You just got home from practice and finished dinner. It's 8:00, so... naturally you turn on the TV to channel 5, because it's time for "Fear Factor." We all could have been on an episode of "Fear Factor." Four years ago we entered these halls as fearful freshmen. What were we afraid of? The typical rumors: getting stuffed in a trash can or taped to the flagpole, or maybe getting lost in this huge campus, which we could now find our way around blindfolded. From watching "Fear Factor," we've learned that eating maggots and sheep eyeballs on a pizza won't kill you. Apparently, living off of cafeteria food for four years won't kill you either. We've been fearful of finals and failing our CE's, but we made it. All of us here tonight have conquered those fears. Hey, we may not walk away with $50,000, but hopefully a diploma will get us where we want to go.


So it's Tuesday night and you just finished your homework. You need to relax, so you flip the TV on to channel 13 just in time to catch "American Idol." You listen to the music and wait for your favorite budding rock star to perform. When the show is over, you cast your vote along with 24 million other Americans who want their own voice to be heard. Now there's a lesson here for all of us, Grads. It would seem that the American population gets more excited about voting after watching an hour of "American Idol" than they do about voting for President.

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So when you decide to run for President - as I know some of you will - don't waste your time and money campaigning for a year. Just work on one song, call yourself the American Idol and go on TV the night of elections to perform it. I know you'll get the votes!


On Wednesday nights at 9:00 you could catch the latest episode of "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette." While none of us walk around school handing out roses, essentially the same process occurs three times each year: at Homecoming, at Tolo and at Prom. Rather than choosing your soul mate, you tend to end up "winning" a date to the dance. But I think it's easier that way - there's a little less pressure, no annulments and typically no diamonds are involved.


Now any random night you could turn on MTV and see someone somewhere living their everyday life with a camera following them around: "Road Rules," "Real World," "True Life," "The Osbournes" and "Punked" among them. Well that might have been intriguing when we were freshmen and sophomores, but we don't need it anymore! Just gather around the Senior Lot during sixth period, and it provides generally the same effect - the excitement and the drama that we all get lured into. Sometimes we even have exciting twists or surprise endings!


Most of us probably weren't on national television recently, but we have been facing reality for 720 days among the halls of Douthitt High. I'm sure if we would have just hired a camera crew, we could have had our own show. America would have loved to see our class in action!


Our Freshmen year we won "Most Spirited Class" in the school. We've won the Food Drive, Penny Wars and numerous class competitions. For three years in a row, we've failed to successfully put together a class party. (But we have figured out how to get our parents motivated to put together an all-night graduation party for us.) We stood in the stands at Douthitt Memorial Stadium cheering our hearts out, only to watch our football team lose the Homecoming game - our freshmen, sophomore, junior - and senior year. (But they'll always be number one in our hearts.)


Many of us have experienced standing in the wrong place at the wrong time when one of our great mascots has flown overhead. I'm sure America would get a rise out of that one! But we weren't embarrassed; we were simply showing our school spirit-that we are true seagulls.


Yes, we've definitely shared some memories in this place - happy and sad, good and bad. But most importantly we made it. We survived, which brings me to one last show.


We'll call it Survivor: Douthitt High-style. If you were being sent off to a desert island and could only bring one thing with you, what would it be? Probably not your history book or a calculator, and definitely not a #2 pencil. (There better not be scantrons on that island!) Our whole class is a tribe. In September 1999 there were 659 of us thrown onto the island of Douthitt High. The cuts have been made and the tests have been taken. We are the ones that have passed. We are the only ones still standing. There are 307 of us here tonight. We've survived the WASL and SAT's, Planning Team and even CE's. I'm sure we can all agree that that's enough to prove we're ready to move on. It's time to graduate and get off this island.


But what we do and where we go from here is up to us. There are no more counselors to help us figure out our schedules, and no more teachers to remind us of deadlines. Some of us will travel far and some will stay local. Some of us will go off to college, some will head straight into the workforce or the armed forces and others will stay home. Who knows...one of us just might become the next Joe Millionaire, so stay tuned.


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