Good evening, my fellow members of the class of 2008, parents, families and relatives, friends, Brandywine teachers and staff, and other warmly welcomed guests. We are pleased gather with you on this momentous occasion, and I am deeply honored to be able to share my truly heartfelt thoughts and speak to all of you tonight.So here we are at the end of all things, or at least at the end all things Brandywine as they pertain to our class of 2008. (Except for, of course, returning for homecoming so we can eat food from the alumni tent and possible class reunions when we are all so altered we'll be astonished at the sight of each other.)

Parents wished us not to grow up too quickly; but we did. People warned us that this year would go fast; it did. We often do not realize just how speedily we sail, how soon a journey ends, until we reach our destined shore and look back to see how far we've come. Multitudes of memories fill the oceans of our minds, some buried leagues within, submerged but resurfacing in a tidal wave of emotion at moments like these.

Doesn't it seem just a short while ago we were skipping to the bus stop, giddy with anticipation knowing that our cartoon-character backpacks contained a brand new doll or action figure that would impress the whole class at show-and-tell and be the highlight of discussion over PB&Js and juice boxes at the lunch tables. Oh, those days when we still had recess, when four-square, dodge ball, and double-dutch competitions became battles between groups for playtime domination, tests of our determination and skills, taken as seriously as any test in the classroom.

Our class motto, "We cannot discover new oceans unless we have the courage to lose sight of the shore," tells us not only of the exciting opportunities that lie before us, but also reminds us of the safe harbor in which we are currently anchored. Up until now we've had our lives basically charted out for us. Based on where we live, we were guided from one school level to the next, each port contributing to the furtherance of our knowledge and preparing us for the main destination-graduation and beyond. Now that we have reached the end of that plotted course, at this moment are finally graduating, the future is mostly uncharted waters, and we are the captains of our own ships, capable after years of training and moving up through the ranks to steer our lives in whatever direction we choose. As exhilarating as that sounds, it is also somewhat intimidating and puts upon us greater responsibility and duty than we've ever had before. That is why it will take courage to leave the shore, to say goodbye to those we leave behind and to all that is familiar to us. Some of us are completely ready to embark and explore life's opportunities, while others of us are more reluctant to set sail and give up the known for the foreign. I think all of us will miss a great many things-family, friends, hangouts, and all the good times that we've had together. Shakespeare's right, "Parting is such sweet sorrow."

In leaving the shore, however, we are not to forget all of these people or our memories, but rather to hold them close. As we encounter new situations and experiences, continuing the discovery of who we are, we are also to remember who we were, and no matter how far we may stray off course, we can always find our way back and mold both to become the individuals that we want to be. We all have dreams that we have held close to our hearts. Let this be the time when we chase them and make them realities. Everything that has happened in our lives has occurred for a reason, each incident and acquaintance has its influence on who we are and what we think. Brandywine has been a part of us for many years, and we truly have learned a lot here. Treasure the knowledge and experience you have gained, and remember, as they always tell us, that learning is a lifelong thing, and we should never dismiss the chance to expand our minds or broaden our horizons. I have supreme confidence in all of you, in the ability each of you has to be what you want, make the most of your life, and reach the destinations you set off for. Don't be discouraged if the sea of life turns you in different directions or you become stagnant and becalmed, everything comes in its own time and there are many currents that lead us to where we are supposed to be. May we all discover peace, love, friendship, and joy.

I would like to use this opportunity and take the liberty of speaking on behalf of my peers to extend our gratitude to indispensable people in our lives, those that stand with us on the shore. Parents, families, friends, and others that have steered us, we thank you profusely for your constant support and dedication in all of our endeavors. You love, care, and provide for us and sacrifice so much of yourselves to see us happy and successful. We hope that tonight you can feel proud of the child or children you have raised and of yourselves for guiding us this far. Our occupation as students meant you had to become an expert in a whole lot of areas: here-and-there-and everywhere chauffer, crafts and projects advisor, cheerleader, multiple subject tutor, music and arts aficionado, and overall encourager extraordinaire. But guess what-you're not quite done yet. I have a request to make of you tonight. These new oceans we seniors are about to explore can be frightening and even dangerous places, where storms may arise in a moment, waves come crashing down, and the ship be blown off course or distraught. Life is full of uncertainties, there are bound to be storms and problems, and in our moments of distress we need assurance of rescue and a safe haven. Please don't leave us to wander aimlessly now that we're going off on our own voyage. Be that place of refuge and support when we are shipwrecked and require it most, for we will never stop needing you.

I would be remiss now not to extend our class's thankfulness for our amazing teachers and staff here at Brandywine. You have crammed so much knowledge into our heads and taught us so many important lessons, beyond just equations, writing, and historical analysis. What we appreciate most of all, however, is the interest many of you took in our lives and activities outside of the classroom, cheering us on at sports events, listening to concerts, admiring our artistic efforts, and inquiring about things that are important to us. Some of you have even shared your lives with us, and given of your talents, energies, and extra time to help us strive to greater heights and become successful individuals. You have mentored us, come in on weekends and over breaks, and been sources of unfailing encouragement that have inspired us to pursue our various interests and become young ladies and gentleman that you can be honored you taught and knew. We hope you are proud of us tonight and that we can continue to make you so. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Class of 2008, let us strive to make them proud. We are a class of great talent, ability, and good character-let us make the most of our gifts and be active, serving members of society. Now it's time to for us to say our last goodbyes, bring in the anchor, hoist the mainsail, and embark. In your life journeys, my peers, I wish you Godspeed. May God bless you all.

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