Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Memorable Graduation

At the end of my sophomore year in high school, I was inspired by a graduation speech made by a young lady.  She must have been one of the valedictorians.  I never cared much for the valedictorians speeches before, but this speech left me speechless.

I've never seen a graduation quite like this one.  I'll never forget it...


A picture I took that day
Friday June 3, 2005


My cousin Roel and I were enjoying the view as we sat on the stands at the school's outdoor stadium.

Thousands of family members and friends surrounded the handsomely green field on which the graduates were seated on.  In their hands, they held cameras, flower leis, posters, and colorful balloons... everything they needed to help celebrate this moment.

Beyond the green field and the school buildings, I could see the houses of the town and the mountains in the far distance.  I could even see the mountain where my dad would take me and my siblings hiking as kids.

Soothing melodies filled the air as the school band orchestrated the celebration music.  I thought about my younger brother, who was playing with them.  My cousin Roel and I wished that he was sitting next to us - the three of us called ourselves "The Three Musketeers" - but we also admired my younger brother's love for the band and his well-polished clarient.

Once in a while a balloon would escape its owner's hand and fly eagerly up towards the clouds.  I would point at it and the two of us would lightheartedly giggle at the balloon owner's misfortune.

The day was transforming into night as the sunset colors took over the sky.

I looked down at the high school graduates, who were organized neatly in rows.  They proudly wore magical-looking green robes and had exclusive graduation caps atop their heads.  They were young, brave soldiers uncertain about the future yet determined to step into it.

Four graduates stood up from their seats and headed over to the microphone stand; they must have been the valedictorians.   I noticed immediately that they were young woman; their gowns were shorter and they each had long hair and wore brightly white sandals. 

I have never cared much for valedictorian speeches but I payed attention anyways as they began to speak.  Humor filled the first girl's speech and I felt the crowd rumble with laughter.  Nervousness filled the second girl's speech and she became earthquake-shaky in her delivery.  The third girl took the stand and I anxiously waited to see how she would do. 

Would she be nervous, especially after hearing how nervous the second girl was?

The third girl began to speak and - whoa! - her voice instantly demanded the attention from everyone in the stadium.  Her words flowed into the crowd with a power that would make anyone stop and listen.  Her speech grabbed my attention, touched my heart, and took my breath away.  I looked my cousin in the eyes and smiled.  He smiled back at me.  He must have been thinking the same thing that I was thinking.

"Wow, she's amazing."

I listened carefully as the third girl concluded her speech.

Then I smiled and thought to myself...

"I'm proud of you sister."


My sister was one of the valedictorians at her high school graduation. 
I never cared much for the valedictorian speeches before but this one...

This one was special.  Now I always look forward to hearing the valedictorian speeches when I attend commencement ceremonies. 

I was so inspired by my sister that I drew this picture and gave it to her.  My dad helped me and used oil pastels to draw the mountains and the sunset.  I used the M&M characters as the graduates, because my sister's favorite candy is M&Ms. 

This is still one of my favorite drawings, because it always reminds me of that special day.

"M&M Graduation
Colored pencil and oil pastels on paper
June 2005

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JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

Nice story. Very inspiring. and your admiration to your sister is heartfelt.

Have a great weekend!


Justin said...

This reminds me of the strong emotion at my own graduation and those of my siblings (who are older than me). I remember very well the sense of pride I felt when I heard there names echoing throughout the stands.

and i love the drawing! :)

Anonymous said...

Very cool, Justy. I can see why this would be a special day and remain in your memory forever.

The picture is too cool! I'll bet she keeps it in a special place!

Peace <#

SpiritMountainGuy said...

Thanks for sharing your story and memories! Awesome! - V

Justin said...

feeling proud of someone is what I meant

Sean said...

proud moment, great story. that drawing is such a sweet gesture.

^travis said...

i'm curious why you used M&M's as the characters...

Craig said...

Lovely story... it's good that your sister is a source of pride and inspiration for you, as I am sure you are to her.

Mitch Block said...

What a beautiful tribute to your sister, and I love the drawing. It's been my dream to meet the M&M characters (well, not really, but great and funny drawing anyway).

the island guy said...

@ JJ Roa Rodriguez
Thanks Jj. Yeah, there was no limit to my admiration for her when I was growing up. She was very much my super role model :)
She was greater than superman... still is actually haha

@ Justin
It's nice to see you use the word "pride" in your comment. Your name reminds me of my name haha.

@ Jay M.
Thanks for commenting Jay. I always look forward to your comments. I gave it to her but the frame broke a year later and I've kept it in my art binder ever since for safe keeping. Now that I think about it, I should reframe it and give it back to her for Christmas :)

@ SpiritMountainGuy
You're welcome :)

@ Sean
That drawing was the best way I could think of to show her how much she inspired me. I really worked hard on it haha... I stayed up late sometimes to work on it (I like the peacefulness of the night when everyone's in bed).

@ ^travis
Thanks for reminding me that I should explain why I used the M&M's characters. It's because my sister's favorite candy is M&Ms.

@ Craig
She's always been my role model. I wanted to be everything she was growing up. She was smart, beautiful, and people always seem to like her.

@ Mitch Block
I'm glad you see the comedy in the drawing :)