New Smyrna Beach High School Salutatorian Drew Walker challenges his fellow classmates to 'go further and find a way to thrive'

2011 Cudas graduation

2011 NSB High School Salutatorian Drew WalkerNSBNews.net video by multimedia editor Sera Frederick / Salutatorian Drew Walker addresses his classmates during the graduation ceremony Saturday at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach. A copy of his speech is attached.

DAYTONA BEACH -- Nice guys don't always finish last. Sometimes they finish second. Such is the case with Salutatorian Drew Walker who encouraged his classmates to endure as they face the realities of a 21st-century world with an entrenched economy where those planning to attend college will have to deal with higher tuition rates and decreasing financial aid.

Walker, the No. 2 student overall in academic achievement in the class of 400, reminded them of their "journey dotted with defining moments" from pre-school through high school -- the "first car" on the 16th birthday, the "first gray hair" with the SAT tests.

"Some of us came from New Smyrna, some from Edgewater, some from Samsula or Oak Hill," he said, but on this day, all of them will enter the real world in the face of adversity with the entrenched recession.

For those choosing to immediately furthering their education, the adversity includes shrinking state and federal aid and increases in tuition. But he affectionately pointed out that in the past, the collective class has shown its characteristic apathy to those who put up walls: "So what?"

Every graduating class has challenges.

"How did the class of 1980 adapt to the highest unemployment rate since the 1930s?" he asked, adding for that matter how did the graduating classes of the Great Depression deal with adversity?

Walker answered, "They did as humans always do... they found a way to survive."

He continued, "It is from failure and setbacks that we learn to measure ourselves in order to guage the distance we must travel to satisfy our need for self improvement."

"It is from failure and setbacks that we learn to measure ourselves in order to guage the distance we must travel to satisfy our need for self improvement."

Walker added, their will be failure and success along the way, with true success building from the lessons learned from failing and the ability to achieve goals.

Walker implored his classmates to go beyond the humdrum of existence: "Let us as a graduating class go further and find a way to thrive."

"Let us as a graduating class go further and find a way to thrive."

NSBNews.net, also known as VolusiaNews.net, provides Volusia County 24 / 7 Internet newspaper coverage, 100% free with breaking news, news of record and investigative reports from New Smyrna Beach, FL, for a 21st-century digital world.

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via HeadlineSurfer.com. Florida's first around-the-clock newspaper was launched April 7, 2008, in New Smyrna Beach, initially as NSBNews.net and VolusiaNews.net. Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Headline Surfer® Publisher Henry Frederick, is recognized as one of Florida's top award-winning cops & courts reporters, who has received more awards for such coverage than any other reporter working in Central Florida. He's the top journalist in the Florida Press Club two years running with seven journalism awards for 15 breaking news and investigative stories, three blogs and top internet site. He's the only reporter to win awards for coverage of the Trayvon Martin slaying as well as the subsequent George Zimmerman murder trial acquittal in Sanford. He's also won state, regional and national journalism awards for his coverage of cops and courts fear 8 1/2 years at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, where he witnessed and reported on the execution of serial killer Aileen Wuornos and covered the civil trial brought by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt's widow to keep his autopsy files sealed. Before that before he covered cops & courts for Gannett Suburban Newspapers / The Journal News in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York, where he won a highly-coveted Associated Press Award for breaking news. Before launching the 24/7 internet newspaper in 2008, he was an award-winning city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette, in his native Massachusetts for two years, winning a national investigative award on municipal corruption. The first of Frederick's three books, for which he has secured publishing rights, is called "Creepy Ass Cracker" (840 pages, Xlibris), which will hit bookstores in September. His second book, "Wrestling ReWind," is expected to be published in January 2015. The third book is not yet titled.
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