Thank you all for joining us today on this incredible occasion.
I like to win.
You see, I’ve always been a competitive person, always comparing my skills to those of others.
Crossroads coaxed me out of my comfort zone as they encouraged my peers and me to cultivate our own interests and abilities.
At Crossroads, there is no model of “perfection” to strive for, only the enhancement of our own knowledge and empathy.
We are all along a spectrum of passions, each equally pursuing them the best we can.
Our journey at Crossroads has been about: embracing our quirks and differences, understanding the power and importance of uniqueness.
In no other place can an AP Lit teacher discuss passionately the racial undertones of Invisible Man one day, whip and dab with his senior class for a lip sync performance the next day, and openly converse about sexual assault on college campuses in advisory that same afternoon.
This concept of everyone being special in their own way came as a shock to me.
There were moments throughout 6th and 7th grade when I wondered, “What does Crossroads provide that should overpower my desire for football stadiums and a million dollar amphitheater?”
My family told me to give it time and attempted to explain the many reasons I went to this 200-student, inner-city school.
You see, at 12 years old, I actually didn’t choose my school. My family loved Crossroads and knew it was the best place for me.
It was not until around freshman year that I had a moment of clarity, thinking, “I get it now.”
I came into high school thinking it was all going to be a competition.
Let us all understand. I was a 12-year-old dweeb. I thought I knew a lot, and I didn’t know much.
Ninth grade opened my eyes.
My sister, being an amazingly kind older sibling was in the Junior class, she allowed me to hang out with her and her friends.
My parents can vouch for me when I say that the opportunity to hang out with 17 year-olds practically brought tears of excitement to my eyes.
I now not only have my sister, but an entire network of friends that offer extensive and unique advice about their experiences post-Crossroads.
Of course, high school also brought a level of knowledge of the world to my mind that allowed me to more clearly understand issues within society and Crossroads’ unique approach to tackling these issues.
There was no one event that pointed me in the direction of reverence for my school, but the daily interactions with my teachers that enlightened me.
It is an odd feeling when you realize your teachers know you way more than originally planned. It may be weird, but it’s also an indication that they care.
Soon enough, that weird feeling begins to turn into comfort and motivation.
Boom. I began to understand why it is so easy to be yourself here.
Why it has been so easy for ME to be MYSELF.
It’s going to be so difficult for me to leave a community in which I am so comfortable.
But I can confidently say,
Crossroads, you have succeeded in your mission upon me. I see what is valuable in life, and I understand the importance of passion and confidence always paired with a sprinkle of humility and humor.
It is so difficult to appreciate what Crossroads has done for us as we graduate, when, while we were here, like any other group of high school students, we prayed for the final bell to ring.
So, before I pass the microphone, I would like to offer a drop of advice. Current students, take advantage of your time, and make an attempt to “get it”.
Go explore Forest Park next door, make lunch traditions with your friends (shout out to Taco Bell Tuesday and the Breakfast Club), play basketball at lunch without worrying about the pit stains you’ll deal with for the rest of the day.
Try as many new and seemingly weird things as you can without a worry of what is considered ‘cool.’ There’s no such thing at this school.
As for my fellow graduates, I recommend you do the same.
Be smart and good in your endeavors, and take a piece of Crossroads wherever you go. It will happen without you even knowing.
Thank you to my amazing friends, loving family, and invaluable teachers. You’re all the reasons we are up on this stage today.
And here are some good vibes to get you through the day. *gives good vibes*.