Lauren Taylor’s Story

Good evening Pastor Monroe, Mr. Berry, faculty and staff, friends and family, and, of course, my fellow classmates. I would like to first thank you all for coming and for everyone who had a part in making this graduation happen for us. On behalf of my entire class, we are so thankful for the ability to attend a formal graduation ceremony celebrating our accomplishments.

              To my parents:

My parents have been there for me every step of the way, supporting me, pushing me to my limits, and cheering me on. They were there for every tear shed and stressful moment, but also for the laughs and fun times. They have had a major part in shaping me into the person I am today not only academically, but spiritually as well. They know how hard I have worked for this moment, and I know how much harder they have worked to raise me and to provide me with numerous opportunities that have led me to this moment in life. So, thank you mom and dad for everything you both have ever done for me and for helping me become the person I am today. I love you both so much and I wouldn’t trade you guys for anything or anyone in the world.

To my teachers:

              I would also like to thank every teacher and administrator that I have encountered throughout my years here at Florence Christian. I came to this school in 7th grade and had no idea how much of an impact the people here would have on my life. Thank you all for not only teaching me the required academic material, but for always genuinely caring how I was doing inside and outside of the classroom. I have grown so close to my teachers here and you all inspire me every day. So, thank you for being such great teachers and figureheads to look up to.

    To my class:

              I would like to give an extra special shout out and thank you to all of my classmates. Each and every one of you have had an important impact on my life. You guys were one of the biggest reasons why I fell in love with this school to begin with. You welcomed me in in 7th grade and I have had the privilege of getting to know you all and forming bonds with every graduate sitting before me. I truly believe that our class is one of the most academically inclined classes to ever graduate from FCS. I know how hard each of you worked for your high grades and GPA’s and I would like to congratulate each of you for your accomplishments made here in high school. You guys have challenged me and pushed me to work harder than ever before. Our class has also formed such a close bond to each other. We are truly a family and have been rocks for each other to lean on all these years. We love each other and I know that even as we go our separate ways, we will always remember one another and will always be here as a support system when needed.

I would like to especially thank my closest friends; you know who you are. I have had many of my greatest memories with you guys. Thank you for making high school so great and helping me to survive every class taken together. There have been many ups and downs throughout our years here together, but no matter what, we were always there for each other in the classroom and in the real world, as well.

When asked to write this speech, I started researching tips and tricks on how to write a valedictorian speech in hopes of finding that perfect inspiration. After much deliberation on the topic, it finally hit me. I wanted to make my speech personal with my class but still give a message and tell our story to everyone attending this graduation ceremony. So, I decided to write a letter.

Dear class of 2020,

Many of us have known each other all of our lives, going all the way back to elementary school. I myself, with a couple other girls from All Saints’, came here in middle school, which is a time of great change to, yes, our personalities, but mainly our appearances. I, for one, am very thankful that those middle school trends and looks were just a phase that we eventually grew out of. Then we entered the big leagues, or what felt like the “big leagues” at the time.

Freshman year we officially entered high school. Even though most of us already attended FCS before this, it still felt like a major change and upgrade in status. This year many of us encountered the math course known as geometry, and let me tell you, we would not have survived that class if it wasn’t for Mr. Berry being such a great teacher. So, thank you Mr. Berry. I’m sure you remember that year teaching us very well; I know I do. We also took classes like speech and music appreciation, which was fun at times and kind of nerve racking at others. One of my fondest memories of freshman year though, was the first day of class in Mrs. Bohler’s English class. I actually got in trouble for talking and being too loud, and Mrs. Bohler moved me to the front right seat of the classroom. Yes, that entire year I was the only one with an assigned seat which I wasn’t happy about at first. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why that was one of my favorite memories. Well, little did Mrs. Bohler and I know that moving me to the front and away from my friend group at the time was also moving me slightly out of my comfort zone. This move forced me to branch out and talk to different people. I made some very important friends that year as a result of me being too talkative in the classroom, friends that I have truly been able to count on these past four years. I told you this little story to speak a bigger picture. God still has our best interests at heart and can make any bad situation a moment you wouldn’t change for the world because of the blessings that follow.

Sophomore year was honestly a breeze. I don’t remember much about sophomore year besides not really having any difficult classes, besides Chemistry, of course. Thank you, Mrs. Stone, for getting us through that. It was kind of an odd year because we were still considered underclassmen, but we felt a sense of power because the freshman looked up to us and we started forming friendships with the upperclassmen. I think the highlight of this year was designing our class rings and preparing for the following year.

Junior year was definitely the hardest year we encountered as a class. Every class we took seemed to be immensely tougher. We also started taking online college courses from Florence Darlington Tech which definitely weren’t walks in the park. I had many of my favorite experiences in Mr. Miles math classes, though. Although the material was hard at times, Mr. Miles made it bearable. I could never thank you enough, Mr. Miles, for being such a great teacher and ending every class with a devotion and your famous saying, “Live for the eternal more than the temporal.” Even though it might’ve seemed like we were half-asleep most of the time because your class was so early in the morning, know that we were always listening and looking up to you. I know that we will never forget your humor, corny jokes, deep devotions, and especially your famous saying. Many exciting things happened junior year, as well, including junior ring ceremony, fruit and cookie dough sales, the many adventures in Mrs. McAllister’s class like making “Scarlet Letters,” attending prom, and going around the school giving gifts and singing songs on Valentine’s Day. Let’s not forget how our football boys also won the State Championship this year (and beat Trinity Byrnes).

Finally, we made it to our senior year. This was the year everything had been building up to. This was the year we had been waiting for. Now, let’s be honest, this one’s hard to talk about. Yes, it was filled with many great memories. We had senior pictures, homecoming, special senior classes, some sports seasons, and each other, but right when everything was building up to its peak, it ended. It ended when we least expected it to. Senior sports seasons went unfinished, the spring play was cancelled, prom was no more, and classes became online. Believe me, taking calculus class online felt almost impossible. I know some of you can relate to that. But even as we were mourning our senior year losses, we were really just missing our friends and teachers and memories with them that we had dreamed about making for the longest time. Yes, we had Zoom, FaceTime, and various social media platforms, but nothing can compare to sitting in a real classroom surrounded by your classmates. I missed you guys. We have been hit with a huge reality check. I believe that this was God telling us to slow down and count our blessings.

We have been blessed with many years attending this awesome school together. During this time of quarantine, I hope you all have reconnected with your families and maybe some long lost friends, but I especially hope that you have reconnected with God. I hope you have spent some extra time in His Word and have even talked to Him through prayer. I hope you have done some self-reflecting and have realized that not everything is promised. We are not promised tomorrow just as we weren’t promised the ending of our senior year. This is why we should live every day that God blesses us with to the fullest and with no regrets. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. Instead of focusing on what could have been, we need to start looking to the future. Go talk to that person, apply for that job, and go to that college. Look at each opportunity as an open door meant for you to walk through. Take a couple risks and chances but do it all for God’s glory. Each of you has a bright, God-planned future ahead of you, so don’t waste it. Live your life for the betterment of this world, but especially for His kingdom.

So, as we go our separate ways after tonight, I wish you all the best of luck. I know that you are all capable of great things, and I can’t wait to see all the things you will accomplish in your futures. Know that I love you guys and will miss seeing your faces every day in the classroom.

I will close with this:

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Sincerely Your Valedictorian,

Lauren Taylor