Amelia Grace Jarell is the valedictorian for the Kennett High Class of 2020. She delivered her speech remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Grace, who will head to Brown University in the fall, had her speech air Friday night on Valley Vision (Channel 1301) and on the Kennett High YouTube station on the internet.
Here is Grace's speech:
"Well, guys, we made it. Our I’s have been dotted, our T’s have been crossed, and our Scantron sheets have been filled.
"You made it, whether you’ve checked into PowerSchool every day, or you lost your password freshman year and haven’t gotten around to asking for it yet. Yes, you’ve been meaning to send Mrs. (Cheryl) Furtado an email, but it can wait until tomorrow, right?
"I think that this year is the prime example of just how quickly time flies — it’s such a good example, in fact, that you’ll probably catch yourself using it 20 years or so down the line when your kids ask are we there yet? for the third time in four minutes. Looking in your rearview mirror, you’ll tell them the story of your senior year, a story that they will have heard countless times over. A story of how you, too, asked are we there yet? every single day for three and a half years until one Friday the 13th, when everything changed and you realized how much you wanted to stay right where you were.
"Granted, time doesn’t always fly in quarantine, as we know all too well. Those excruciating three seconds between saying goodbye to your teacher on a Google Meets call and actually clicking the “hang up” button are apparently when time decides to stand still.
"But when we look back at the last day that we all walked out of our high school together, at the weeks upon weeks that have gone by since we’ve looked each other in the eye, it seems as though two and a half months have just disappeared.
"Seniors, when Mr. (Ron) Danforth let you leave the parking lot for the last time, did you know that you’d never rush out to your car again? Teachers, when the bell rang that Friday, did you realize you were saying goodbye? Parents, when your children threw their bags down that afternoon, did you know you’d be stuck with them for an eternity? My point is, none of us were prepared for any of this.
"One day, life was normal, and the next, we were thrust into a new, social-distancing, mask-wearing, toilet-paper-hoarding reality. So what I’ve gleaned from all of this is that our time is limited.
"Not in a morbid way — this isn’t that kind of speech — but in a way that should make us appreciate the time that we have right now. We never know when our world is going to be flipped upside-down, and that is why we must take advantage of the present. Don’t wait for tomorrow, or next Monday, or “when you grow up,” whatever that means. If you have a goal, a dream, or just an email you haven’t got around to sending, my message to you is achieve it. Follow it. Send it.”