Sydney Baxter's Senior Address Speech

“Hello, and welcome to a day of celebration for the class of 2019. Looking back,we thought this day would never come, and for most of us, we did not turn this moment into a reality until this morning. Although we practiced for countless hours and rehearsed many times, we still sit in our seats with butterflies in our stomachs--mainly because we don’t want to be the one that trips on stage. So, without further ado, congratulations class of 2019! Thomas Edison once said, ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.’ As direct as Edison was, he definitely wasn’t wrong, and I felt this quote was most appropriate for the class of 2019. The three keywords that are most important to Edison’s quote that I would like to emphasize and acknowledge are opportunity, overalls, and work. We have been given opportunities to try, which have given us our ability to graduate, overalls, which have inspired our hard work and dedication, and lastly, work ethic, which will create career success for each person of the class of 2019.

Opportunity: the first word of Edison’s quote. It can be defined as “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something” (Merriam Webster). Yes, English department, there is an in-text citation in my speech--I was taught correctly. I, like Edison, am a true believer that opportunity is offered to everyone. For example, in elementary school, we were given opportunities to choose our outfit for the day, pick the library book we wanted to read, or to act accordingly in order to be chosen as a TERRIFIC kid; however, most importantly, each day we were given the opportunity to try. We were asked to try to read words, solve problems, and complete the Physical Fitness tasks like sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups. Moving forward in our lives, we were given opportunities throughout high school that have continued to shape the young adults we are becoming. Wearing make up for the first time, starting Varsity for a CHS athletic team, or even finding your “corner” in the parking lot -- and yes, there are specific corners--we have learned how to tackle challenges that we, as individuals, would not have known how to take on otherwise. Because of the willingness to try that was taught in the elementary school and the character development that was built in middle school and into high school, I believe each of us will have great opportunities offered to us in the future. College acceptances, job promotions, or even winning the lottery (and remember who you went to class with), we each will be given amazing opportunities in life. The question we should each ask ourselves, however, is if we will be the one to miss the opportunity because it is “dressed in overalls and looks like hard work”?

The next point of Edison’s quote that I will acknowledge is his choice of the word overalls. For years, overalls on men have signified hard work, particularly on the farm and in other blue collar industries. The men and women of the class of 2019 who wear the overalls and work in blue collar fields plan to be future welders, carpenters, linemen, and railroad workers; they will all work hard--and probably make more money than most of us. While these men and women will work various jobs doing laborious work, I truly believe that those in overalls are not the only hard workers. Those who decide to enter white collar fields will be required to work just as hard. Those who select office jobs will work diligently to develop new businesses, design and build aircrafts, or even cure cancer. My point is that there are many students at the Chillicothe High School who will be occupied in both blue and white collar jobs, but I am confident that each of us will what hard work with or without the overalls. So, again, I present you with a question: will you be afraid to wear the overalls --literally or metaphorically-- in order to accomplish your goals?

The last point I want to acknowledge in Edison’s quote is the keyword work. After high school, some will immediately enter the workforce, but most will attend a college or university. For those of us who choose to further our education, we will eventually end up at work. Adults often tell us that we “shouldn’t wish our life away” and that we should “enjoy high school because the real world isn’t as fun.” However, the class of 2019 is not shy of the future; in fact, we are ready to embrace it. Not only am I excited for myself, but I want to see where the class of 2019 is going. I am ready to see what we become, how many times each of us will switch our majors, and where in the world we will end up. We will work as doctors, lawyers, pastors, contractors, plumbers, office assistants, and teachers, and I can assure each person in this room that we won’t just be good, we will be exceptional. Edison uses the word work to describe the motivation needed in order to accomplish goals, and I believe that the students in the class of 2019 have the drive to work for what we want.

Again, I present you with wise words: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I am confident that this class will use our opportunities to try. I know that we are capable of taking monumental steps in the future. I believe that those who wear overalls work hard, but no harder than those who those who do not. Finally, I am positive that we are not afraid to work toward our goals. So again, congratulations to the class of 2019. I hope each of us take the opportunity, choose to wear the overalls, and work for everything we want. Thank you.”