Our Destini graduated from high school last week and in honor of her success, I’d like to embarrass her a bit by sharing a story with the world.
Five years ago this August I picked up my phone to find an Alaska State Trooper on the other end. He explained to me that my daughter, my sweet one, my smart one, my good child…My Destini…had gotten into some trouble with the law. Nothing I’ll explain here, but suffice to say it was not much more than minor thirteen year old mischief. It wasn’t the act that disturbed me, so much as that a police officer was the one telling me about it and I saw it as the possible trail down the rabbit hole of doom so many teenagers fall easily in to.
We’d been sending our older kids in to Soldotna, twelve miles to the north of our home in Kasilof and until that time, had not really seen an option. For some reason, our eyes were closed to the possibilities and our children suffered the consequences.
After the trooper call, we knew what we would do. We’d send her to school in Ninilchik.
Oh, for the love of it all…not NINILCHIK!
She was devastated. She was forlorn. She was downright pissed.
Ninilchik was a hick town. Ninilchik was small and boring. Ninilchik was in the middle of nowhere!…or so she whined.
And we sent her anyway. Because sometimes as a parent, you grit your teeth and do what you know is right whether they hate you for it or not.
And sometimes…it pays off. Watch her Salutatorian speech below to see the results!
Destini’s Salutatorian speech:
“Five years ago, I would never have seen myself in this position. Fresh out of my rebellious stage, and brand new to this town, I was sure sending me here was a punishment. I’ll admit, Ninilchik was the last place I wanted to be. But looking back, it was the best possible decision. Had it not been for the people of this school and community, I firmly believe I wouldn’t be standing here, giving this speech, and holding this title. You have all helped me become the person I am today, and I don’t know where I’d be without each and every one of you. Robert Frost said home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. I didn’t grow up here. My family has not been here for generations. I’ve been to a lot of different schools in my life, but this is home. Within these walls, I’ve learned my most important life lessons, and done more growing up in five years than I did the thirteen years before.
But enough about the past; this is it. I’ve never been one for endings, of good books, or good friendships, so this is not going to be about ending a chapter in our lives. This will be about the amazing beginning of one. For leaving here today will not be the epilogue to your life story, but the prologue. The last 18 years have led to this moment and, together, no matter what happens when we leave here today, we’ll be ready for anything: to take on life, to take on love, to take on possibility and responsibility. Today, our lives begin. This evening, we realize all of our dreams are possible. We leave here with success at our fingertips, a blank slate, and the opportunity to be anything.
A great man once said, “One voice can change a room”. Be that voice. Understand that this is where it all starts. For the rest of our lives, we will be questioned. Don’t let yourself be the answer to these questions. Research says only 67% of high school students in Alaska actually graduate. Well, class, we’ve already beat the odds. Continue to stand out, dream big, question everything, and remember that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. Congratulations, Class of 2012.”