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Valedictorian Speech: Liz Wegman

by Liz Wegman, SHS Class of 2016

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to convey a message to the class of 2016, not to bid farewell”. As we break through the doors of Sandwich High School with our diplomas, and in just three months, move on to our respective colleges, universities, workforces, and so on, I ask you to remember this one piece of advice from your captain, friend, teammate, class treasurer and amazingly candid and hilarious peer, Mira Elizabeth Wegman. It’s not to savor how unique you are or to remain grateful of your childhood on Cape Cod, even though these are important tidbits to retain. It’s this: to speak. Pope Francis has said “to dialogue means to be able to listen, to put ourselves in someone else’s place, to build bridges”. We will soon learn that a life of silence will not mollify the calamities of this world.

I therefore urge you to find your voice, but do not speak for yourself, speak for others. If we live only to preserve our own self-interests, ignoring the consequences our words may conjure for the next generation, then we have failed our responsibilities as citizens of the United States. In the classroom, we have dissected classics such as The Scarlet Letter and 1984, but now it is time to apply these lessons, nay warnings, to society. Oppression exists at every level and it is our duty to restore equality. And whenever someone tries to trick you into submission by claiming “well, life is unfair,” do ask that person if American freedom was the result of our ancestors’s excuses.

Blind obedience to apathy and injustice will not protect us from the truth. Thus, at the next game, tell your friends to recycle their plastic bottles, for that court, field, or track will be loved by the next generation of athletes. Question your professor if he/she forces one simplified mindset of beliefs upon you. And, for the sake of humanity, if someone praises the Kardashians, do please point out the obvious.

My favorite engraving on the Thomas Jefferson Memorial reads: “Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind . . . We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” Likewise, we must carry on this Brobdingnagian message in our hearts and minds. After all, breakthroughs begin by opening up a dialogue.

With all of this in mind, I would like to dole a few thanks. God and Jesus, thank you for your everlasting love. Lea and Peter Sorgi, Donald Franke, Mary Alice Moynahan, and Bud Schermerhorn, as well as Dr. Booras and Dr. Canfield, thank you for enlightening me and showing me how to think. And Quaker Meeting House sidewalk, thank you for keeping me off the streets during my runs.

Most importantly, to Mom, Dad, and my siblings James and Jen; I cannot express in words my love and gratitude for you. Just know that you will always be the eternal springs of my aspirations.

Finally, to my grade, understand that although your voice can be a powerful weapon, it can be an even greater vessel of peace and progress. Speak wisely. And so, at last, I leave you with this modified quote from a familiar captain- “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Sandwich High School class of 2016. Its new mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no class has gone before”. Thank you and God bless you all!

Thanks to Sandwich Community Television, you can watch the graduation here: