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The Speech I Never Gave

This is the Speech I never gave, but let me give you some backstory first:

Last June 13th, I married the love of my life and missed my school’s graduation. With that, I also lost the opportunity to give speeches about my former students. That was my first eighth grade class that graduated. In place of being there, I decided to write them individual letters, offering anecdotes and advice for the future.

Following an idea I had last July where I posted letters I wrote my graduating class, I wrote two speeches for this year’s graduation – neither of which I actually gave.

The first one is to a student who saw marked growth over her three years in Middle School. She wasn’t the most innately talented student, but she made up for with her superior work ethic. It’s intangible that can’t be taught.

Photo courtesy for Benoit Van Lesberghe

Photo courtesy for Benoit Van Lesberghe

I once taught a student who was timid and afraid. She was constantly doubting herself, constantly thinking her work wasn’t good enough. Even when she would schedule an appointment, she would cry when I was the one who made a mistake grading her work.

My, how you’ve grown into the confident, poised young woman who now aspires to be a published author herself.

Writing is an arduous, tedious process. As much as it is about generating an idea, it’s more the crafting, editing, and revising that produces something worth reading. Requisite, though, is the dedication to keep writing even when those corrosive thoughts call for you to quit.

I can confidently say, Antonea, that your work is good enough, you have the heart to see the process through, and I cannot wait to one day read your manuscript drafts. You certainly are prepared for whatever you will be asked to do in high school English.

Before I start crying, congratulations, congratulations, congratulations, for you – to whom I am awarding T-D’s middle school English award today – have earned it through your tireless effort to improving both as a student of English and as a writer.

And I know your best work lies ahead.

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The Speech I Never Gave


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