The Niagara-Wheatfield High School graduation was held June 23 at Artpark. Last week, the Tribune featured the valedictorian's speech. Today, we offer the salutatorian's speech.
by Meghan Gonyey
I would like to welcome everyone to the graduation of the Class of 2011. I would first like to thank our Superintendent, Mr. Militello, our administrators, and all of the teachers and staff at Niagara-Wheatfield. I would also like to promise you all that I will make this speech as painless as possible.
It is hard to imagine that just four years ago we entered high school young and naïve, not thinking about what the future held for us. And now, we're sitting here with our future in front of us, becoming what we make of it. A few months from now, we will be making decisions without the influence from our parents that we have become so accustomed to. I can say firsthand that the past four years of high school haven't been a breeze. For most, but not all, it took a lot of hard work and dedication. Between SATs and all of the Regents' exams we were forced to take, it seemed like high school was never going to end. But finally, as we sit here we must remember who helped us through our journey in high school, and that for me, is my family.
I would first like to thank my parents, who have always motivated me to get high grades and not settle for failure. They were always there to encourage me to do the right things inside and outside of school. Even though it led to some frustration, I know that what they taught me will allow me to become the best person I can be. I would also like to thank my sisters Ali and Olivia, who have been there to support me through the good and the bad, no matter how many fights we got into or how many disagreements we had, I know that you will always be there for me, and that is truly a special thing.
I cannot forget my grandparents who have been there for me more than anyone. All four of them have been there unconditionally to love and support me throughout the sports that I played and the accomplishments I have achieved. I must also mention that you were all there to give me what my parents wouldn't, and were always on my side no matter what, which was always helpful.
I couldn't get through this speech without, of course, thanking all of my friends. (You know who you are). We've had so many crazy times together over the past four years and there are moments we have shared that I will never forget. You all have taught me valuable lessons, most importantly, being, how to have a good time.
Many of you are aware that my family and I have endured some hard times over the past year and a half. When my younger sister Olivia was diagnosed with cancer, we all feared the worst. It was extremely hard to find the light in all of the darkness surrounding us, but eventually my family and I learned to cope with the change in our lives. I learned an endless amount of lessons from the ordeal that we faced.
From January of 2010 to this very day, I have grown up much faster than many others and been able to look at life from a different perspective. I learned that the future is not assured and that everything you have today can be gone tomorrow in the blink of an eye. I want everyone to walk out of here tonight remembering to live life to your greatest potential and live with no regrets because, after all, we cannot predict what tomorrow will bring.
As we move on to college, it is important to focus on our goals that we wish to achieve and to not look back, because we have one life to live and we must make the most of it. While there will be ups and downs, we must remember that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
The most important lesson I learned while dealing with the illness of my sister was that kindness is the greatest thing a person can give. The outpouring of love shown from friends, family, teachers, and people who we didn't even know was so overwhelming. The feelings my family and I experienced from all of the love and kindness was one of the greatest feelings a person could ever experience. I know that I will try my best to help others feel the way that I did. I also hope that all of you will try to go out of your way, even if it is the smallest act of kindness, to make someone else feel special and important.
Life is a journey that is full of unexpected twists and turns and whether you are forced to deal with a paper cut, or are forced to look death in the face as my sister did, I truly believe that God will not give you more than he knows you can handle.
I would like to end with a quote that I believe to be true. Albert Einstein once said, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
With that, I would like to thank everyone and wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors.