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Episode 90: Inspiring Words from the Class of 2021

It is with great pride that we honor and congratulate the Jordan School District Class of 2021. The graduates have demonstrated strength and perseverance in what has been a challenging and unprecedented year.

On this episode of the Supercast, we hear from some members of the Class of 2021 who truly are an inspiration to all.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. I'm very proud to honor and congratulate the Jordan School District Class of 2021. The graduates have demonstrated strength and perseverance in what has been a challenging and unprecedented year. On this episode of the Supercast, we hear from some members of the Class of 2021, who truly are an inspiration to all.We're here at West Jordan High School with Eliani and she's speaking at graduation. And I would love to hear some of your speech. Now I have to say I was in the office and someone said you have to meet Eli. So I've already spoken with you a little bit about everything that's going on with you. You have some exciting things happening in association with graduation.

Student:
Yeah. A lot of awards that I'm going to be winning soon. Well, but my biggest award would be speaking at graduation.

Anthony Godfrey:
So speaking at graduation is your biggest award. That's pretty cool.

Student:
My biggest accomplishment that I've ever done.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, it's an exciting day. And like I told you the other day, I'm excited to be there. I get to speak with you, but mine is going to be pretty short and a lot less interesting than yours, that's for sure. Let's hear part of it.

Student:
Being a teenager has its challenges such as controlling emotions and impulses. But with these challenges come great rewards like having big dreams you can make and your own independent positions. Tomorrow, we wake up as adults and it's your choice to do what's best. Adulthood is a world of responsibility and work, transforming from a teenager to an adult. Might be challenging if you are here graduating today, I know you could make it in the future.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that last line. If you're here, graduating today, I know you can make it in the future. You've come this far so you can keep going. What does it mean for you to keep going? What's next for you?

Student:
Well, for me, I want to continue my education and pursue an Associate's Degree in graphic design. I feel like a lot of people doubt themselves in the beginning and say, "Hey, I can't do this". I know I can't during the beginning of the school year, we were struggling to keep things going online. And in-person, a lot of kids struggle with that and they are here graduating in a couple of days. I know that they can make it in the future because they've been going through all this beforehand.

Anthony Godfrey:
What would you say to students who are worried about whether they're going to graduate next year or worried about starting high school next year? What would you say to them?

Student:
Something I would say is that it might be challenging at first, but even if I did it with having a disability, you can do it as well. And honestly, just have fun. Don't take it seriously. Take your grades seriously, of course, but live life a little. I would say go to dances now that the pandemics kind of over. Go to dances, hanging out with your friends late at night, just get a boyfriend. Honestly, just live life. High school is serious at times, but you need to live life. Yeah. Just live life.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think you're right. There are achievements in a high school and you want to make sure that you're having a good blend of hard work and good fun.

Student:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's a pleasure meeting you again. I can't wait to share a stage with you and I can't wait to see where you go from here. You have great things ahead of you.

Student:
Thank you.

Student:
I like to tell you my story. It all started my first year of high school. It wasn't the place for me. I failed many classes got into bad friend groups that pressured me into doing things that were detrimental to my health and well-being. It felt like everyone gave up on me and I was giving up on myself. My life was on track to get me where I wanted to be ever since I came to Valley. My whole world changed for the better. I've made so many awesome friends and my grades improved immensely. The positive atmosphere at Valley and the unconditional love and support from the faculty and staff helped me achieve my goals. Malaria once said, "It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do for which we are accountable." Valley teachers focus on putting the accountability in the student's hands, which helped me have confidence in making decisions about my future.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm speaking now with Rebecca Kelly, who's speaking at Valley High School's graduation. Rebecca tell me, Valley High School sounds like was exactly the right school for you.

Student:
It definitely was. Like I said, in my speech, I failed many classes and I got into bad friend groups. Yeah, it wasn't the place for me and I didn't fit in. I always sat in the back with no one and I didn't really have many friends. But ever since I came to Valley, my whole thing changed. I'm captain of the year book and like chief editor, and that's helped me get outside of my comfort zone a little bit. And I've made so many more friends.

Anthony Godfrey:
You're both captain and chief?

Student:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's pretty exciting. Tell me about some of the students and teachers you met at Valley that made a difference in your life.

Student:
I don't know. They always tell me to keep on working hard and you'll achieve a lot of things. I've never really been told that before in my life. So hearing that from someone, and hearing it over and over again, it made me feel like it more that I was going to achieve a lot of things.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think overcoming the challenges that you have and now not just graduating from Valley, but speaking at Valley High. How does that feel right now in this moment?

Student:
I'm freaking out a little bit. I got tummy tickles already.

Anthony Godfrey:
The tummy tickles can be a good thing. And I think these are good tummy tickles telling you that great things are happening for you.

Student:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
So the Class of 2021 at Valley High School, how would you like them to be remembered?

Student:
Just how far they've come and how much they've accomplished over the past year and a half. And not just through the COVID year, but before that too, with the struggles in their lives and what they've overcome. So many great things and that they are going to be doing great in the future.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do you have any words of encouragement for those who may be listening and might be struggling with fitting in at school or accomplishing what they want to?

Student:
I always kept on telling myself, don't be afraid to be you. I was not myself trying to just fit in, but me being me, it helped me grow.

Anthony Godfrey:
Some great advice that you can use the rest of your life. Great things are ahead. Thank you for talking with me.

We're here. Mountain Ridge High School, talking with Alexander Hill about speaking at graduation. Alexander, let's hear some of your speech.

Student:
We only have two subjects to speak on, reflection and relationships. We've all been traveling a similar path, but we're about to split 570 different ways. Before that happens, take a moment to reflect on what you have learned here at Mountain Ridge High School. I for one have learned from Mr. Arthur that the solution is far less important than the process. From Mrs. Robertson that everything in life has a deeper meaning if we can find it. And from Ms. Porter that we should each add to the tool belt, trying new things that improve our lives. And from Ms. Barrett, that when we are learning history, we are only learning about ourself. And that's just the beginning. Each and every teacher has made an impact on our lives that perhaps will never be fully recognized. What have you learned here? What principles will you take with you throughout the rest of your life?

Now relationships, not the lovey-dovey because I'm not too good at those, but the relationships with your friends and family. We were in the truck one day, so I stopped by the cemetery and took a look around at the rows of graves. I noticed that not one headstone had engraved "Here lies an honor roll recipient, 13 consecutive times." There's not a single one that mentioned if they were student body officers or club presidents, their AP test scores or 1600 meter time. No, rather those headstones are all about relationships, about friends and family and the love that connects them. About the love that those people gave and the love that those people received. As we navigated the next parts of our lives. Remember, it's all about the relationships we have.

Anthony Godfrey:
How does it feel to be at this point?

Student:
I never thought I'd get here. Seeing my siblings get here, seeing my friends get here, but here we are.

Anthony Godfrey:
It always feels like it happens to somebody else, right?

Student:
Yeah. It's usually a little scary, but mostly excitement to just go to the next chapter of our lives.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what is that next chapter for you?

Student:
For me, it's a little bit of everything. I'm at UVU right now, and then I'm going to military training starting in September. I'll be there for nine months. And then I'm going on a two-year church mission.

Anthony Godfrey:
Let's talk about elementary and middle school. Tell me a favorite memory from elementary or middle school that prepared you as well, because it's a 13 year process really to get you to graduation.

Student:
That's true. So I went to both Daybreak Elementary and Butterfield Canyon. And I have great memories of both, but I remember Ms. Nixon, my teacher in Daybreak, who's now a principal at Herriman Elementary. We played "Kick the Trash Can" and we would go out on the field and play that each day. And it was a hardcore intense game and there would sometimes be hard feelings, but that was a highlight of my fifth grade experience and I got pretty good.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, I run into Ms. Nixon now and then, so I'm going to have to talk with her about your Kick the Trash Can skills. It's funny, the things that stick and the experiences that stay with us. What advice do you have for anyone who may be starting high school and maybe he's a little nervous about that or is a junior concerned about graduation or graduating with the grades they'd like to see next year?

Student:
Yeah, I think the biggest thing is get involved. You can focus all day on your grades but you will walk out of high school with great grades, but you won't walk out with the soft skills that you need to be a successful person. And a lot of the soft skills I've gained have been through the different parts of been involved with choir and with DECCA, FPLA and with service. I'm serving on the Youth Council, so we get as involved as possible. You'll meet new people and you'll gain new skills. It'll take your life far.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, thanks a lot for taking the time. I know it's a busy, exciting week and I wish you the best going forward.

Student:
Thank you. Appreciate it.

Break:
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Anthony Godfrey:
I'm in the alumni room at Bingham High School with Jackson Wheeler.  Jackson, how does it feel to be graduating?

Student:
It's kind of surreal. Like I was saying earlier, I first started my freshman year here and we came in and we celebrated a State Championship that we had won. And now I'm a senior and I'm graduating at this crazy. I'm starting out the same way I ended it. The time goes by quickly. The days go by slowly, sometimes the nights when you're up late doing homework or having a good time with friends and all of that. But it's a big milestone.

Anthony Godfrey:
How does it feel? Looking back?

Student:
It's hard to put into words exactly what it means as far as this big milestone, because you know, it's the epitome of high school, right? Every student looks forward to the day they graduate and now it's here. And the culmination of these last four years, well, not even four years. The last 13 years of work, right. You've been working since you first started school and you know, here you are, and we're celebrating your education. It's more than anything I could describe and being fortunate enough to speak. I think just being able to embody Bingham High School students. I'm very grateful and very fortunate to have that opportunity.

Anthony Godfrey:
How would you like the class of 2021 at Bingham High School to be remembered this specific class?

Student:
I want to be remembered in a way that's different than any other high school class has been remembered, not just in the sense of we're graduating, but we're different. The time has changed, right? We live in a different world, different technology, but the things that we went through as far as being in school and establishing ourselves and who we are. I focus a lot on tradition, especially because the school is built on tradition. It's very historic. And then coming in a year later and having everything taken away and trying to figure out who we were right in between identifying who we are to having COVID hit us the way that it did and being students, specifically our class, because, you know, we had come in, everything was taken away and we had to relearn who we were, right. We're individuals that persist and no matter what, we're going to adapt. That's what makes Miners successful is we're going to get the job done, regardless of the circumstances or whatever.

Anthony Godfrey:
I like the idea of relearning who you are but at the same time growing and becoming even more. And that's really what we hope that your educational experience, like you said, all 13 years are all about. I'd love to hear part of your speech.

Student:
Absolutely. So the part that I thought about reading to you is the conclusion of my speech and the entirety of my speech.I kind of wrote down as a metaphor of a pencil. So the whole speech encompasses high school as a pencil. And there's different references and in jokes in here and there that you know, help capture what I felt high school really was. So I'll read this last part here. This is the beginning of the conclusion, and I'll go with this. Sitting here in this final moment ,we will end our chapter as changed characters, better because of the tools that we were equipped with. Henry Bergson once said "To exist is to change to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly." But before we jump into the journey ahead of us, we have to take time to reflect on this moment. Right now we are Miners through and through, for the rest of our lives a part of our hearts will always bleed blue. Although this chapter for the Senior Class of 2021 is closing, we will never outlive the knowledge we can gain from a pencil. First, everything you do will leave a mark, whether for good or bad, however, you always hold the ability to correct your mistakes as you erase. Yellow paint and an eraser only goes so far. It's what's on the inside that counts. Life will throw challenges at you, but the best pencils go through the most painful sharpening. Lastly, to be the very best you can be, allow yourself to be guided by the hands that hold you. All you have to do to infinitely impact your future is pick up the pencil and when life feels dull and pointless, just remember, sharpen your pencil.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me.

Student:
Absolutely. No, thank you. I'm grateful for this opportunity to be here, to embody what the inside 2021 class represents.

Herriman High Student:
At the beginning of senior year, coming back to school was strange. The lack of closure from the year prior echoed in our footsteps. Disappointment and absence of motivation was palpable throughout the last two years. Our classes navigated the waters that no class has had to endure before from trying to meet new people through a mask to Orange Chicken Thursday being the weekly highlight. Events have definitely been unknown. We trudged on, finding ourselves here today. Our senior year, while different, remained intact. We cheer as loud as we could throw our masks. During the first football game in the nation, we celebrated homecoming with a concert on our football field and watched our own students kill it. On that stage, we raised $50,640 to take care of children with rare diseases. During Hearts of Gold, we took home the coveted Spirit Bowl Trophy, all thanks to one of our own student's incredible dance moves. These memories will become the stories that we tell our kids and grandkids and who have we become. I figured that no one could explain this better than you, incredible Mustang student body!

Anthony Godfrey:
We are here with Clara Fowler from Herriman High School. You're speaking at graduation. How does that feel?

Student:
It's a little nerve wracking, but it's exciting. I actually really liked public speaking so I think it will be a really fun opportunity.

Anthony Godfrey:
What's it been like to be Senior Class President during a COVID year?

Student:
It's definitely been a challenge. I've really had to focus on unifying my class and on trying to find little pockets of hope all throughout the year. We've had to change our homecoming. We had a homecoming concert instead of a homecoming dance, and that was a different and fun tradition that we were able to introduce. But I think overall, it's definitely been trying to keep morale up, try to find ways to keep kids involved and in touch with what's happening at school.

Anthony Godfrey:
From your speech I can tell. And I've known throughout the year that you've accomplished a lot as a student body, despite the pandemic. How would you like the Class of 2021 at Herriman High School?

Student:
I think I'd like our class to be remembered as being the class that overcame this pandemic. And I think that our class graduating signifies the resilience and the strength that we've developed throughout this pandemic and throughout quarantine. We've had to overcome a lot of challenges from emotional challenges to figuring out how to graduate amidst people dying, in amidst people that we love going through a lot of difficulty. And I think it really highlights the resilience and strength of our class.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for talking with us. Thanks for having me good luck with whatever is next for you. I'm sure it's big things.

Student:
I'm excited.

Anthony Godfrey:
It feels big right now.

Student:
It does feel looming.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here at Riverton High School with Isabel Emery. Let's start with hearing some of your graduation speech.

Student:
Okay. The title of my speech is Planning Spontaneity. Be spontaneous. This piece of advice has always gone over my head a bit. So what exactly does it mean to be spontaneous? To be spontaneous is to act on instincts which are not controlled by outside forces. To me this means, do not plan or at the very least try not to plan so much. This is another hard idea for me to grasp because it seems like nothing will go right if I do not plan everything. But I have found through experience, if we avoid over-planning, we aren't disappointed when something goes wrong, and instead, enjoy the accidents that come. This leads us to a better place than we previously planned. President Dwight D Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States said, "Plans are worthless. Planning is everything." To me, Eisenhower is saying it is important to think about the journey we want to take so we can plan ahead, but we don't want to make firm plans because we will always have to deviate from what we originally thought.

Anthony Godfrey:
That speech was outstanding. And it really, it speaks, I'm sure, to all of the seniors who are graduating, because there's so much that they're expected to plan. And I think knowing what you want to do and knowing what your path is is great, but it's also great to be, as you say, spontaneous, and be open to ideas that come your way. Lots of my days are planned. My days are planned down to the 15 minute mark, but it's great when I get a spontaneous moment in there. So I think you've really hit on something. How does it feel to be graduating right now?

Student:
I've never liked growing up, so it's been kind of hard to accept graduating. And I also feel it's been a bit harder because I didn't get a full three years at the school and I didn't get to experience everything that usually happens, but I did get to experience some things that were different than maybe some other seniors have in the past, which I think is cool.

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of your favorite memories from elementary or middle school, because it takes 13 years to get you to graduation.

Student:
I remember in fifth grade, I loved my fifth grade teacher, Miss Baron.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. What about it inspired you?

Student:
She told me I could change the world and I will always remember that because I had never had someone tell me that. Even if it's small, it's important to feel like you can make difference in the world,, even if it's in just people's lives. And she saw that in me and everyone in my class and to this day, she is one of my favorite teachers because she made class so fun, and also it was important even if it was just the fifth grade.

Anthony Godfrey:
You can change the world. And I'm excited she got that message through to a fifth grader. Thanks for spending time with us. I know that it's an exciting and busy week. So I appreciate you sitting down and chatting with us for a bit and best of luck on everything. I'm sure you're going to find a great path for yourself.

Student:
Thank you.

Copper Hills student:
Without Copper Hills, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I know, just three years ago I couldn't imagine giving a speech at graduation. But enough about me because funny enough for the valedictorian, I hate talking about myself. When I first told my friends and family, they tried to rationalize how I got here for having both parents drop out of school. I guess they felt like they had to come up with a reason. Some of them said it was because I learned from their choices. Most of them applauded my resolve and my love for education. But to tell you the truth, I'm only here on the stage because of all of you. I really do mean all of you.  Without my parents.,I wouldn't even be here on the stage. Without my teachers, I wouldn't have done well in school. And without my friends, I wouldn't have enjoyed high school as much as I did. And without every parent here in this audience, I wouldn't have those friends. Every action, big and small put me up on this stage. Our spheres of influence are so interconnected and now we're all graduating. It's our turn to make a new beginning for ourselves. So our dreams and what we want to do, we do when we leave the stadium today. We'll do that with the help of those around us.

Anthony Godfrey:
Jose Rodriguez-Lira. That was a great speech. Very compelling story. How proud are your parents?

Student:
I would say that they're really proud.  love them so much. And I know that even if sometimes they don't show it, especially my dad, he's a lot more calm and collected. I just know that they're really proud of all the time.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, they have good reason to be obviously their sacrifices have paid off and your sacrifices have paid off. How does that feel to be at this stage of things?

Student:
It feels really good because I know that when I look back on all the sacrifices they've made, sometimes I've really adored my parents for everything they've done. But at the same time, I wish that they could have had the opportunities that I have. But looking back, looking at this moment right now, I think that it all just makes it a little bit better just to know that there was a reason for all of it happening and that it all turned out.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. So what are your plans next?

Student:
'm going to be going to the University of Utah. I'm not quite sure what I want to major in, but I know that I want to do something in the social sciences area.

Anthony Godfrey:
What would you say is your favorite class?

Student:
My favorite class, I would have to say that it was European history. That class was really the beginning of me getting out of my shell. I explicitly remember getting into that class and not wanting to ask a single question being too nervous to. But then, because of all the clubs I joined, because I was willing to put myself out there, I remember raising my hand a little bit more and more each day in that class. And I just adored all the concepts in there, in the way that that history has impacted the facts of today's life.

Anthony Godfrey:
What would you say to those who are just starting off in high school?

Student:
I would, it sounds a little cliche, but I really would say to join as many things as you can. I think people don't take advantage of all the really great programs that every single school has from the diverse set of classes that we have from clubs to just talking to new people. I really promise you that as long as you are willing to put yourself out there and talk and make new experiences, high school will be worth it for you and you'll love it.

Anthony Godfrey:
You have a lot of wisdom for someone just graduating from high school and you're well beyond where I was when I graduated. So I know great things are ahead for you. Thanks for spending time with us. And I wish you all the best in the future.

Student:
Yeah. Thank you so much. It was such a pleasure.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us on the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see how [inaudible].

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