Salutatorian’s Address – Shiva Teerdhala

720 days, 4 years, and tens of thousands of steps around the Plano East Pond later were finally here. In the ceremony that symbolizes the culmination of 13 years of school. I am honored to welcome our amazing teachers, hard-working administrators, and loving families to celebrate the terrific accomplishments of our one-of-a-kind senior class. I’d also like to give a special thank you to the organizers of this year’s graduation. Because we thankfully have the afternoon slot and avoided having to wake up early on our last official day as seniors. Although I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a problem since all of us have mastered the art of waking up progressively later each day, yet still driving to school fast enough to get to Africa three minutes before the bell. I could start by rattling off a list of our accomplishments from state-level musicians to international science fair winners. But that would take far too long. Our senior class is exceptional not because of our academic and extracurricular accomplishments, but because of our immense perseverance and dedication to hard work. Today is a celebration of those qualities which we all possess. None of us would be here today without them. All of us are in the continuous pursuit of the elusive thing that people call success. Our parents, teachers, and friends constantly tell us to be successful. But what does that mean? Does it mean having a family? Does it mean winning awards and accolades? Or does it mean earning a six-figure salary? These are all classic ideals that represent success, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the only ways to achieve it. Success is different for every person. It doesn’t have any definition. Success is whatever you want it to be. It means accomplishing our goals and working hard toward our objectives. As we follow our dreams and gain fulfillment in life, we become our own definition of success. Future generations will look to us as they too strive to reach that eternal goal. As we move on to the next phase of our lives, we will be faced with novelty. New cities, new teachers, new friends, and new challenges. Entering the unknown can be daunting. And we will face immense roadblocks on the path that leads to success. Indeed we will struggle like we never have before, fail at things we thought we were good at, fall down in defeat and be afraid to stand up again for fear of falling. Achieving success is not going to be easy. But you should never stop fighting. Because if you have if you enter the game afraid that you’ll lose, you’ll never win. It can be especially tempting to compare ourselves to others and find despair when we look at their victories. We all question ourselves and wonder,
‘why am I the only one who fails?’ Thoughts like this are self-destructive. We all have our own strengths and the next few years will be a time of self-discovery when we look inside ourselves and find what our strengths are. Always be positive and take joy in your own victories and successes instead of constantly looking at others. So after every failure stand back up, dust yourself off, and get ready to keep pushing. Even if you don’t believe in yourself, the rest of us have got your back. Take a second and look around you. Left and right and the rows in front of you and behind you. These are the people we’ve grown up with We met some in kindergarten, others in middle school. Some of us have only become close friends over the last few years our Plano East. Regardless of when we met though, we’re all bound by one common thing: we are part of the Plano East Panther family. The sense of community that comes with being a Plano East student is truly remarkable. And it’s going to be one of the things we miss most about high school. It’s hard to believe that this phase in our journey is coming to an end. No more band and orchestra trips, no more fake duck stickers and random places, and no more lunchtime visits to Taco Bell. When you really stop and take a second to think about it, it’s almost impossible to comprehend. People often say that high school can be seen as the best four years of one’s life. But it’s only been the best four years of our life up to this point. The future may be mysterious and unknown, but it’s going to be an unknown filled with success for the Plano East class of 2019. All good things in life have to come to an end, but they’re often followed by something much better. High school is no exception. It’s just one of life’s many phases. The friendships we’ve made, the bonds we’ve forged, will last a lifetime. Even if high school has to come to an end, Know that we can always depend on each other, because distance is not enough to stop the Plano East family. Thank you, and let’s hear it for the class of 2019.

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