ECHS commencement addresses

Valedictorian’s address

Shamirica Rankins

Editor’s Note: This address was presented at the Escambia County High School Class of 2023 Commencement Exercises May 22, 2023.

Good evening. first and foremost, I would like to thank God. Without Him I wouldn’t be able to stand up here with the breath I have today giving this speech. Everyone told me “Don’t wait till the last minute to write.”
I want to thank my family who’s helped me and pushed me into becoming the person I am today. My mom who gave up so much to make sure I was OK and that my grades were up. My friends who’ve encouraged me and praised me on the smallest things that led me to this day. And to my teachers, staff, and administrators who’ve taught me, helped me, and guided me, thank you. All of my teachers have made such a huge impact on my journey through school, but there’s one teacher in particular to whom I would like to give a special thanks. Without him I don’t think I would’ve had the dedication and perseverance that I needed to get me through high school. He told me in eighth grade that I was going to be standing up here with the title of valedictorian. I didn’t even know what a valedictorian was or why he even told me that out of the blue. And even though he probably told about 10 other people in our class the same thing, once I found out what it was, those words kinda stuck with me through every test and every homework assignment I dreaded doing, especially in his class. So thank you, Mr. [Levon] Wright.
So onto the actual speech that again everyone told me “Don’t make it so long. I’m not tryna be there all day.” So here you go. The end. The end is where you have to get to in order for a new beginning. And to all of you sitting in these chairs around this nicely decorated stage, the end. We have finally made it to the day we talked about. You know, the day where we say “thank God I don’t have to wake up early no more.” Yeah. We’re here. We are in the shoes of those sisters, brothers, cousins, and other relatives that walked across this very field as we cheered them on in the stands that they’re sitting on behind us at this very moment. We’re finally wearing this blue and white gown that makes us feel like today is all about us and this cap that we are so ready to throw in the air to indicate that it’s finally over. We made it. The end.
We laughed. We fought. We talked about each other. Cried with each other. We sometimes even picked each other up when no one else was there. But those are the memories we will remember most. The memories we will cherish and laugh about ten years later. But if there’s one thing you should take with you tonight, remember these words. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” In a more simple term, God wouldn’t put more on you than you can bear.
So as we go our own separate ways and mature into those adults we couldn’t wait to be when we were little kids playing kitchen with our play phones and our babies that no one could tell us was fake, remember our life will get hard as some of us will make our beginning in a college classroom like I myself at the University of South Alabama. Some on a military base, or even right at home. So as we experience what the teachers call “the real world” take it in with open arms because God wouldn’t give it to you unless he knew for sure that you could handle it. And after these 13 years of “Ion care where you go but you gotta get up outta here” and the “It’s alright. Go to school and if it feels worse call me and I’ll bring you some medicine” I’m positive that we can go through anything. And y’all parents know exactly what I’m talking about.
And to the classes after us and so far so on. You all will hopefully be sitting in these same seats, wearing these same colors, thinking these same thoughts, and crying these same tears. And one of you will have the honor of being valedictorian and another will have the honor of being salutatorian. You will look into the crowd of people who were once strangers and to the people in the stands who’ve come to support and congratulate you, and you will find so much peace in knowing that you have made it. And those people who were once strangers will have such a special place in your heart whether they take the title of being your principal, teacher, friend, janitor, lunch lady. Your hard work and dedication have finally paid off. Your new beginning is not far behind and your end is closer than it appears to be.
So with that being said, to my class of 2023, congratulations. There’s no more walking in the hallway. There’s no more field trips. No more wearing a uniform. No more wondering why everybody loud at 8 o’clock in the morning. And no more “Come on, Miss [Barbara] Whatley. Let us have just one free day.”
So again congratulations and welcome to your new beginning.

Salutatorian’s address

Hasten Dean III

Editor’s Note: This address was presented at the Escambia County High School Class of 2023 Commencement Exercises May 22, 2023.

Good evening fellow graduates, faculty, staff, and distinguished guests,
On behalf of the faculty, staff, and administration, I want to extend a warm welcome to all of you gathered here today to celebrate this occasion.
It is with great pride and honor that I stand before you today as the salutatorian of the Class of 2023. As we reflect on our high school journey, we can’t help but feel grateful for the moments and experiences that have shaped us into who we are today.
First and foremost, I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to my fellow graduates. Today, we are not just celebrating our academic achievements, but also the hard work, perseverance, and dedication that have brought us to this momentous occasion. We have all faced challenges along the way, from long hours of studying, to juggling extracurricular activities, jobs, and personal responsibilities. But we have shown resilience and determination, and have emerged stronger and wiser because of our struggles.
We have grown not only academically, but also personally and socially through the friendships we’ve made and the challenges we’ve overcome. As we move forward toward the next chapter of our lives, we carry with us the lessons we’ve learned, the memories we’ve made, and the relationships we’ve built.
However, we didn’t get here on our own. Our growth and accomplishments would not have been possible without the guidance, mentorship, and support of our parents, teachers, coaches, counselors, and administrators. Their encouragement and love have been instrumental in our success, and we will always be thankful for their unwavering support.
Of course, we cannot forget about the role that our families and friends have played in our lives. They have been our biggest cheerleaders, our constant pillars of support, and our sources of love and encouragement. They have made countless sacrifices to ensure that we have had the opportunities and resources needed to succeed, and they have been our sounding boards and confidants during the highs and lows of our teenage years. We owe them a debt of gratitude that we can never fully repay, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their love and support as well.
As we prepare to leave this chapter behind, let us not forget the values that we hold dear. Let us remember the importance of hard work, perseverance, and kindness. Let us strive to make a positive impact on the world around us.
To my fellow graduates, I challenge you to use the skills and knowledge we’ve gained here to make a difference in the world. Whether it’s in your chosen career, your community, or your personal life, remember that you have the power to make a positive impact, and don’t be afraid to take risks and pursue your dreams.
As we move forward, whether it be college, the workforce, the military, or other endeavors, I am confident that we are well-prepared to face them, armed with the knowledge, skills, and values we have gained through our high school education. More importantly, I am confident that we will continue to grow and evolve and challenge ourselves and those around us to make a positive impact on the world. Let us embrace the opportunities that lie ahead, and let us never forget the lessons we’ve learned, the memories we’ve made, and the relationships we’ve built here at Escambia County High School. Thank you, congratulations, and in the words of Lady [Felicia] Bishop, “It’s a great day to be a Blue Devil.”