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West Orange Times & Observer Friday, May 20, 2022 1 month ago

Olympia High School: Valedictorian's speech

I hope that the companions you have today may stay with you forever and that you may continuously form inspiring and comforting friendships in college and beyond.

During the 1860 presidential election, many believed Republican presidential nominee William H. Seward would become America’s 16th president. However, the tables turned quickly when Abraham Lincoln won that title over Seward. The intense competition between the two during elections and the unexpected outcome fostered hatred and anger within Seward, and probably Lincoln, too. However, acknowledging Seward’s abilities in enhancing the nation, Lincoln appointed Seward as Secretary of State. During Lincoln’s presidency, Seward conspired to control Lincoln and gain power over him. Despite this, Lincoln showed unconditional kindness and hospitality toward Seward. Soon enough, a loyal, close friendship and companionship formed between the two, improving the nation together as a team.

Just like Lincoln and Seward, we all have developed this kind of relationship throughout our life. Our family, friends, teachers and mentors have given us a companionship of support, love, loyalty and comfort. This companionship has helped us to overcome the tedious and stressful school years and made them enjoyable. As we explore life beyond high school, I encourage you all to form trusting, comforting relationships. Find life-lasting companions that will encourage and motivate you during your lowest and hardest times. Reach a hand out to those who despise you. Aim to spread kindness and service to everyone — just like Lincoln did to Seward.

Now, I would like to take the time to thank my companions in life. Thank you to Mr. Perrotti for helping me successfully start my journey in Olympia. Thank you to Principal Gorberg and the administration team for forming Olympia into a supportive, successful school. Thank you to my teachers for welcoming and assisting me throughout the year, and to all the other teachers that lead my peers to success. Thank you to my friends for the supportive and comforting companionship. Thank you to my mentors for guiding me through my hardest times. And finally, thank you to my family. Thank you to Ms. Eliza and Mr. HK for pouring so much love into my family. Thank you to my brother, Joel, for your sweet and encouraging words. Thank you to my dad for working so hard and cherishing me more and more each day. Thank you to my mom for being my best friend and showing me what it’s like to love and support someone unconditionally. 

I encourage all of you to express your gratitude to your companions in life. I hope that the companions you have today may stay with you forever and that you may continuously form inspiring and comforting friendships in college and beyond. Congratulations to all of you. Thank you.

— Joanne Lee 

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