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May 19, 2014

St. John's Prep Class of 2014 valedictorian speaks to peers

Transcript of Alec McNiff's speech at the 'Prep

Someone once told me this would be the last time I see all of my graduating class in the same room. I wish there was some way I could remember this moment forever. That being said, I’ll move onto my speech, but first, let me take a selfie. Thanks, I'll toss that up on Instagram later. It's alec_mcniff. I repeat, alec_mcniff. Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines commencement as the time when something begins. This is not the end. Although today marks the end of our high school careers, it is also the beginning of the rest of our lives. High school is over. Rather than mourn on our last day as high school students, let us celebrate these past four years and all of our success. As we embark on this new chapter, we now have a responsibility to use our education and talents for the good of society. The future is in your hands. Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime. Always take the road less traveled by and don’t be afraid of change. There is no predicting our many future accomplishments.

If you haven’t fallen asleep yet, you may have noticed that so far, this speech has just been one big cliché, including the selfie. No one likes an overused cliché; however, during the writing process of this speech, the idea of clichés stuck in my head.

About two weeks into my freshman year, flooded with free time and growing tired of endlessly playing hacky-sack with my boys Chase, Kaneb, and Vinny-La, I decided to join chorus. You can imagine my surprise when, on my first day in Mr. Hamill’s Ryken classroom, I looked directly to my right and saw Pat Connaughton. Everyone knew that Pat was the best athlete at the Prep, a Notre Dame commit who had received attention from some of the best baseball and basketball programs in the country. What people didn’t know was that not only was Pat the best athlete on the field, but he was also the loudest singer in the auditorium. Pat was the epitome of originality and uniqueness at the Prep, the antithesis of cliché.

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