• Hattie Slayton

    Hattie Slayton's Valedictory Address

    This moment is upon us, fellow classmates. The one where we gather ourselves just before spreading into the world and leaving this place. Since I was young, I have been drawn to the image of dandelions as they bring some of the first splashes of yellow in the long-awaited spring and pure joy and potential when they go to seed. I also remember each year plucking one from the ground, lifting it to my lips, blowing the fluffy clouds of seeds into the air, and making a wish as they floated away in all different directions. 

         As I reflect on the growth that has taken place within us here, and the potential we possess, I think of dandelions. Now, on this day of commencement, we may pause to consider how we began from tender beginnings four years ago and since have risen and grown into a beautiful, blossoming flower. But after today, as we leave this place behind, we will disperse like the fluffy clouds of seeds ready to be blown and scattered from our familiar stem and roots and challenged to make our own. 

         Each one of us sits here now on the cusp of a life filled with possibility. You are all poised and equipped with everything necessary to move forward with life. Isn't it amazing how a seed as small as an acorn can grow into a mighty oak with a root system as vast as its expansive and ever-reaching canopy? No matter how small or insignificant you may think you seem, each one of you holds immense potential right inside of you, and we are all ready to tackle the next steps in our lives.

         Our class united four years ago, and since, we have learned many lessons both in and outside of the classroom while growing alongside one another. Some of us make up the stemp and center others together, some are leaves, isolated yet incredibly important to the vitality and growth of the larger plant, and others are the bright and shiny petals welcoming onlookers. It is our diverse strengthts and abilities, talents and interests that make our collective whole all the better. 

         We have been rooted in the community and culture of George Stevens Academy and the surrounding community for quite some time. The knowledge and experience gained here have grounded us, taught us, and provided the basis for the immeasurable growth that has taken place. With the support of a rich and nourishing community, we have had the chance to grow and develop freely and fully. But now, we must leave behind the strong roots of the GSA community to create new ones. From here, we have learned the value of being rooted, anchored, and connected to our community, and as we travel and float to new places, we will each carry a piece of this place to influence wherever we go. 

         As we venture out into the world, some of us will travel far, and others will remain here in Blue Hill. Next year, some people will be fishing in the bay, others attending college across the country, some building homes, starting a job, traveling the world, or attending college right here in Maine. Some of us already know where to plant our roots, while others will float and drift wiht the currents of life in search of a new beginning. I encourage each one of you to let the wind take you places whether near or far as you grow as a person.

         Each one of us now has the opportunity to grow into ourselves, making unique contributions to our communities, families, and the world. It is time to break away from the familiar and find our own way to make a difference with newly found agency in our lives. I challenge you all to surround yourselves by the people who see your vibrant and daring green leaves rooted with pesky and strong roots as tonic as opposed to a weed. Seek out those that respect you for who you are and cultivate your strength so that you can realize your dreams. Trust not those who try to uproot you, for you are a dandelion, with strong roots and always resilient. 

         Today, I make these wishes for you all. I wish that you all might find happiness in adventure and discovery of yourselves and the world in which you live. And if you allow the wind to carry you, may you be carried to places that nourish the potential of you and encourage you to grow and flourish. 

         In fact, I have a dandelion here with me now, and I would like everyone in the audience to make a wish with me for the graduates of the Class of 2019 as I blow and scatter these seeds. I'll paus so we can make this wish together.

         Here goes. 

         Thank you.