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Excerpted from Leaders High School’s valedictorian speech

Good morning class of 2018!

I’m so proud to stand before you today and celebrate this incredible milestone with you all. When I look at each one of you individually, I see all of the trials and ordeals you have overcome to prepare to cross the stage today. No one makes it here alone.

When I first arrived at Leaders, I was an individual who was deeply insecure, wary of the practices an Outward Bound school offered. Coming here from a school where detentions were handed out more frequently than words of encouragement, I didn’t know how to trust teachers.

To my surprise, I found a community of teachers, students, and staff that were so lovely and kind that even I, in my deep teen angst, could not keep my front up for very long. I cannot count the number of times that a teacher has stayed after school with me for hours to help me with my work, has made time to listen to me, or has inspired me to be a more understanding and empathetic person.

Congratulations Class of 2018!

Like I said, no one makes it here alone. I know that the next few months or years of your life may hold uncertainty or anxiety, but I am confident that all of you have honed the skills to seek out whatever resources you need to be successful.

I wish you all the best of luck in all your endeavors. I urge you to have courage and determination in your approach to problems. No one is more qualified to attack them than you are. With the right mindset, you are absolutely unstoppable.

Find your community. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and offer it to others when you can. Remember that even when you are faced with a task so daunting that it seems impossible, there is always more in you than you know.

Thank you all! Congratulations to the class of 2018! Go vegan!

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