New Smyrna Beach High Valedictorian Alexandria Spradlin to classmates: 'Life is your personal journey'

 

Headline Surfer video and photos by Sera Frederick / Alexandria Spradlin, valedictorian of the 2012 graduating class of New Smyrna Beach High School, addresses her classmates during commencement ceremonies Saturday at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, which you can watch by clicking the video. 

New Smyrna Beach High School Class of 2012 Valedictorian Alexandria Spradlin told her classmates the time has come for them to begin their journeys through life and not to cede decisions on where they're going to others. Here is the full text of her speech:

Good evening faculty members, honored guests, friends, families, and classmates of the Class of 2012! Before I begin, I have a confession to make. It’s been my goal since the seventh grade to be the one to give this speech. But in those past six years, I never once considered what I’d actually say when this moment arrived. I just assumed the words would come to me and be as elegant and inspiring as expected. But when it came time to start writing, I hit a wall.

What could I say? That we are the future? That we can handle whatever comes next? Should I reminisce on our shared experiences? Do a little name-dropping and lapse into a series of nostalgic anecdotes?

Everything I tried fell flat and I eventually realized there was really only one thought I wanted to express.

NSBHS Principal Jim Tager with Valedictorian Alexandria SpradlinNSBHS Valedictorian Alexandria Spradlin walks off the stage at the Ocean Center with her diploma with Principal Jim Tager shown behind her. Her classmates cheer her on in the inset photo.

The people who guided us as we grew up, family, friends, and teachers held us to certain standards and expectations. They expected us to pass in school. They expected us to excel in sports or look a certain way. Whether we rose to meet these expectations, or rebelled against them, they shaped who we were.

Well, now they expect us to start working or go to college. But we can no longer afford to give others power over our decisions. Not when they now have such far-reaching implications.

Only 35% of Florida college entrants will graduate in four years with their bachelor’s degree and only 60% within six years. The rest leave with crippling debt and nothing to show for it. This is the case throughout the country and it’s not because any of us are incapable.

I think the reason so many young graduates don’t finish, is that they rush into postsecondary education to please others, not to meet their own goals. It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Tonight is our first step.

Alexandria SpradlinOnly 35% of Florida college entrants will graduate in four years with their bachelor’s degree and only 60% within six years. The rest leave with crippling debt and nothing to show for it. This is the case throughout the country and it’s not because any of us are incapable. I think the reason so many young graduates don’t finish, is that they rush into postsecondary education to please others, not to meet their own goals. It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Tonight is our first step.

If you have no idea what to do tomorrow, let alone with the rest of your life, it’s okay. Life is your personal journey. Take your time. Relax. Enjoy the ride.

Don’t make a decision because it is expected of you or because the government will reward the people we love for our choices. Make a decision because it is right for you.

If now is the right time for you to backpack in Europe for a few months or run across America for charity - do it. Make it a part of your life’s road without regret.

Alexandria SpradlinAlexandria Spradlin strikes a pose and why not? After all, she is the valedictorian of the 2012 class at New Smyrna Beach High School.

Forget what’s expected of you by others. This is your own personal road and you get to choose where to stop for sightseeing.

Thank you so much for everything you have given to me and to one another – your friendship, support, and love. Without these things, none of us would be here tonight, and for them, I am truly grateful. I wish you all the best.

 

Forget what’s expected of you by others. This is your own personal road and you get to choose where to stop for sightseeing. Thank you so much for everything you have given to me and to one another – your friendship, support, and love. Without these things, none of us would be here tonight, and for them, I am truly grateful. I wish you all the best.

 

 

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet in Daytona Beach, Florida, via HeadlineSurfer.com. Specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with dozens of journalism-industry awards. Frederick is enrolled online at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL where he's pursuing an MA in New Media/Journalism (degree in March 2018). Frederick earned his BA in Political Science/Public Admin. (concentration in Writing) from Central Connecticut State University, 1984, where he recieved the President's Citation for "academic excellence & outstanding campus/community service." Prior to myriad duties as publisher/award-winning journalist of Headline Surfer, 2008-present; Frederick was city hall reporter for the Palatka Daily News, 2007-'08; city editor of the Taunton (MA) Daily Gazette, 2005-2006; cops & courts/legal affairs writer for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, 1996-'04; and cops & courts for the Rockland (NY) Journal-News/Gannett Suburban Newspapers, 1989-'96.