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Lani Renaldo Headshot

The Rest Is Still Unwritten

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This speech was given at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences on May 29, 2014. After struggling for weeks on end to write it, I finally came up with a universal theme that all students, parents, and teachers can take forward with them as they move onto a new chapter in their lives. Thank you to Jackson Barnett (fellow HP Teen blogger) for giving me the inspiration to post this.

Bob Friedman, Bob Riddle, administrators, faculty, parents, invited guests, class of 2014: Welcome. Doesn't time fly? I feel like it was yesterday that this date seemed like a distant time in our future, yet, here we are. It was Andy Warhol who famously said that, "In the future, everyone will have 15 minutes of fame." For as long as I can remember, I've looked forward to this moment, right here. It's not fame but a moment of privilege to share on behalf of my class some reflections, appreciation and things to consider as graduates from what, the road, the path, the world, or the universe we all know as Crossroads. The moment where I speak about graduating and have my semi traditional high school moment, and I'm sorry if I ramble but this only happens once and I plan on taking advantage of every second they give me. So bear with me, this will take less than 15 minutes, I promise.

It's funny, that some of us are graduating on the same field where recess took place 13 years ago. Others might have spent their middle school years here for the grueling, two-hour block we call P.E. This field is be a place of practice, a space where we cheered on classmates, and now it's where we'll temporarily say goodbye to each other, to our faculty and this chapter in our lives.

From alley parties to Ojai, we've had moments that have formed a strong connection within our class. Remember when we went on freshmen retreat or middle school E.O.E. trips? Crossroads has given our class much more than a learning experience, but a bond that will live on even as we accept our diplomas and walk off this field.

Now fellow seniors: We've all heard the song I'm about to mention. It's on every radio station, every minute. It's been on award shows, in movies -- Pharell's "Happy." And as annoying as that song gets, the message behind it is something we look past everyday: Happiness. True happiness. The happiness you feel when you're child-like and nothing could bring you down. I think somewhere along the way this year, we lost a bit of that happiness, because we were all worried about what the future would hold. Because up until this moment, we've been told that everything counts for the future. Your test scores, your grades, who you meet, what you're involved with -- and yes, it does matter, but I'm gonna ask you to do something: Stop worrying about the future.

Let your expectations go. And I know, this is hard -- even I have a hard time following my own advice. But I've noticed that teenagers have tunnel vision, we can only see what's in front of us being the constant state that determines the rest of our lives and if one little thing goes wrong or doesn't exactly go our way, we begin to doubt ourselves. Question everything. Wonder if we made the right decisions, just as I thought when I came into high school. I had everything planned out, what I would do, who I would be -- but here's reality: I don't know what the world has in store for any of us.

I will be going to college, as will many of my classmates. Others may get right to work, or even take a year or more off to decide what they want to do. I know that if I've learned anything during my time at Crossroads, it's that you have to cherish the moments we've had and the time that we've allowed such wonderful people and mentors into our lives. Above everything, be happy. Be happy that we made it, be happy that we've accomplished more than what we knew we were capable of, teachers, be happy and proud that you've fostered an education for us that most kids would dream of getting, and -- parents, be happy that you've raised us into such talented, caring, wonderful young adults.

In closing, There's another song that I feel permeates with this class and it's a song called, "Unwritten" and that's just what the next four years are. Many people will try to say that your future is predisposed. They'll have certain options that they think are best for you and that they have the ultimate plan for you. It's much like the college process in a way. This, however, isn't true. To quote the lyrics of the song, "Staring at the blank page before you." There are no set rules, I mean, other than doing your homework and of course, relying on a support system that includes Sparknotes, Yahoo Answers, Wikipedia... But really, the next four years are what you make of it. What you take advantage of and the risks that are associated with that. You can't live life in fear of what might happen. Failure is a sign of growth. So in the next four years, don't worry about the future, don't worry about failing, instead be happy and remember, the rest is still unwritten.

Congratulations, Class of 2014! We did it!