PLATTSBURGH - Though the graduating students of Peru High School have faced many brick walls in their high school careers, they were reminded each challenge has presented its own reward and ability to shape their futures.
The 2009 graduating class of Peru High School filled the State University of New York at Plattsburgh Field House June 27 as they prepared to embark on the next chapter in their lives.
Valedictorian Alice Robinson said when deciding what she would say in her speech, she drew inspiration from the late author Randy Pausch, who wrote the book "The Last Lecture." Pausch, she explained, was dying of pancreatic cancer, and toward the end of his life tried to teach others how to cope with difficulties which he called "brick walls."
"Brick walls are not there to keep us out," Robinson said, quoting from Pausch's words. "The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it bad enough."
"Throughout our four years at Peru High School, we seniors have had to scale many brick walls to reach this day," Robinson said. "No matter how high our obstacles have been, everyone sitting in front of me has risen to the occasion. We have used our own abilities, creating our own climbing paths. Some have relied on physical and mental strengths, some have depended on friends, while others have cleverly used resources surrounding them."
The greatest brick wall of their high school career - graduation - has brought the members of the graduating class to a point where each must choose a new path, complete with its own set of new brick walls, said Robinson.
"No matter how difficult it is to get up that next wall, I know each and everyone here can make it, whether its college, the military, or work," she said. "Always remember this view from the top. Look around you now, take in this moment. You can see not only what you have conquered, but also what is in front of you."
As each student moves forward, each can take with them the wisdom they've accumulated over the last four years of high school, said salutatorian Abby Roberts. And, though they've learned a great deal, she said, there is much more to be learned and much more to be experienced outside the walls of Peru High School.
"I know that I am intimidated by starting college in the fall and saying goodbye to my comfortable and familiar school and small tight-knit community," said Roberts, "but I also realize that I can turn this change into a spectacular chance to lead my future in the direction I would like it to go."
Regardless of what direction each student chooses, Roberts reminded her fellow graduates "every single day we make decisions that affect our lives."
"Right now, at this very moment, we are all deciding our futures," said Roberts. "Take this opportunity to listen, learn, and grow. Listen to your parents, teachers, and friends. Learn from your mistakes and from listening to others. Grow by learning from your past and use it to shape your future."