- Cullman, Alabama


July 20, 2011

Pitts' valedictorian speech at Hanceville High School

CULLMAN — By Halee Pitts


Hanceville High School

Good morning! Okay, so, how am I supposed to start this thing? Oh yeah! Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to celebrate the unification and matrimony of… Wait! That’s how you begin a wedding. Sorry. Oh! I know! Dear family and friends, we gathered here to mourn the loss of… wrong again. That’s the way most funerals start. Mea culpa. My fault. Hmm…oh! I’ve got it! Good morning, my fellow peers! Congratulations!! Well, look how far we’ve come! Graduation is finally here!!

You know, graduation is sort of like both a wedding and a funeral. It is similar to a wedding in that we are all starting a new journey and a new chapter in our lives. We are all going to start new jobs or attend college or serve our great nation or maybe just take some well needed time off. Whatever it is that you do, it will be a new adventure, just like getting married.

Graduation is also like a funeral; because we are letting our routines die off. No more will we be in a classroom learning what, at the time, seems like useless information. But in any case, the end of one thing usually means the beginning of something new.

We are both unlucky and blessed at the same time. We are unlucky in the fact that we lost a member of our class. Sandra Day, young, beautiful, and vibrant, she passed away and left us heartbroken. We miss her, and she should be crossing this stage right along with us. She may not be right here sitting in one of these chairs, but she is forever etched in our minds and hearts.

On the other hand, we are blessed beyond belief. April 27, 2011. A Day of storms, terror, and devastation. Tornadoes scarred our community, our county, and our state. We lost our gym, but it could have been a lot worse. It blessed us in other lesser known ways, too. We came together and grew closer as a family. I personally saw people who I never would have imagined out volunteering. I think God had his hand on Hanceville, Alabama.

Four years ago as Freshmen, we were the “low man” on the totem pole. We were the “fresh meat” and we couldn’t wait to grow up. We couldn’t wait to go get our license, ya know the whole “Sweet 16 please hurry up!” thing.

Another year passes, and, this time, we’re sophomores. We go get our license and we’re ecstatic. Now we are ready to hit the town and hang out with the coolest people ever, those we call our friends.

Yet another year seems to drag as it passes, and we’re just ready for high school to end. We want to get out of the nest. Our rebellion sets in, and we can’t wait to be 18, because mom and dad have no clue what they are talking about.

And now, through all these things, all these trials and troubles, we made it to senior year. Our time has been saturated with filling out scholarships and college applications, making sure our ACT scores will help pay for our next adventure, and planning prom.

 Oh senior year, I can’t believe that you are over! Our high school career is over. I don’t know about y’all, but it didn’t REALLY hit me until now. It didn’t hit me the first day of school, even though I knew it would be our last first day of high school. It didn’t hit me when we bought our lockers and parking spaces this year, knowing we were finally “top dogs”, so to speak, and we didn’t have to fight the underclassmen for top pick. It didn’t really hit me when we attended our last pep rally or played our last football game. Nor did it hit me when Christmas Break came and we talked to our college freshmen friends about how badly they missed high school. I was fine as basketball transitioned into softball and baseball, and then abruptly ended, because reality really hadn’t set in yet. No, no. Do you know when it hit me? It just now did. Looking out over all the faces of you, my classmates, my closest friends, my family, I realized that it’s finally here. The end of this chapter.

The time has now come to continue on our journey. As we leave here today, as graduates of Hanceville High School, as the largest graduating class from Hanceville High School in 28 years, as the largest graduating class from Hanceville since graduation exams were first given, (but most importantly, in my opinion) as the class…excuse me…as the FAMILY of 2011,we will start THE GAME of life. I pray that you do not LOSE your way. God has so much in store for each and every one of us.

And one day, we will look back at every moment, at every incident that has occurred. We will know that no matter how bad or good the event or situation was or is, it all happened for a reason.

The country artist Darius Rucker sings a song entitled “This.” It says:

“For every stoplight I didn’t make, Every chance I did or didn’t take, all the nights I went too far, all the girls that broke my heart, all the doors I had to close, all the things I did but I didn’t know. Thank God for all I missed, ‘Cause it led me here to this.” And he is so right. Everything has a purpose.

So as I wrap this thing up I just wish to tell you that I love each and every one of you. I love all the times we have had together, good and bad. Don’t let anyone tell you you aren’t good enough, because you are the best there is. Don’t let them tell you that you will just lose the game of life, because I’m certain that you will succeed and excel at whatever you do. Don’t let them tell you that no one cares about what you have to say, because you have a voice, an important voice. So be the best you can be, succeed and excel at all you do, and let your voice be heard. And again, CONGRATULATIONS! You did it…..we did it!

Text Only