A Baccalaureate Speech
by Samantha Thompson
Once upon a time, a long time ago, when my cheeks were far chubbier and I was about three feet shorter, my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Gromer, gathered us around to read a story - and stories were my favorite. The class grew quiet as Mrs. Gromer's voice began to bring the words to life -
A woodcutter is granted three wishes. He rushes home to his wife. While eating their meager soup, she wishes she had a sausage. And a sausage appears! Angry at this waste of a wish, the woodcutter wishes the sausage would stick to her nose. And it does! They pull and prod and tug, but no use. They must use their third and final wish to return their life to what it was before.
The class erupted in moans of disapproval. “What a ridiculous story!” I thought, "If I could wish for anything, I'd FIRST wish for more wishes! Then I’d wish to be a ballerina."
Fast forward to the summer after I completed second grade, in the chilly ice cream shop on the corner of our street. My dad told me something I just couldn't believe - we were moving. Moving away from Bloomington, Indiana; away from my school and my neighborhood with the creek where we’d catch crawdads; away from my best friend; away from my home. It was the first time I had ever seen my dad cry, making me cry big crocodile tears. Deep down in my heart I wished; I wished that we didn’t have to move away from everything I loved. It seemed like a fair wish to make, but it didn’t come true, and we moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where I started third grade at Christian Academy, so no, I am not, in fact, a lifer to many people's surprise.
My third grade year quickly flew by, and I joined the Southeast softball league. Full of athleticism, style and poise...
...my coach, Kelly Brown, wisely positioned me in right field where no balls were hit - ever. Oh, but I wanted to play infield! That’s where the action was. I wished and wished that I’d turn into a superstar first baseman. That wish didn’t come true either, but after hours and hours of practice with my dad, Coach Brown gave me a chance, and for that I am grateful.
In fourth grade I got a little lackadaisical in Bible memorization, and consequently failed three Bible tests. You could call it a bad case of 4th grade-itis.
I had made it my life’s wish to keep up with Katie Amin academically (impossible, I know, but wishes are supposed to be magical) but now I was facing an impending C and possible loss of Graeters ice cream. I wished Mrs. Webb would give me extra credit, or give me a do-over, or something! There was nothing wrong in wishing for an honor roll certificate, after all. But wish as I might, that C stuck, and I had to spend the next seven years learning how to study, pay attention, and actually memorize those Bible verses.
In middle school, my wishes turned into prayers. Although now I know that God isn’t some sort of fairy Godparent, I believed then that if I disguised my wishes as prayers, it would have some extra oomph.
Dear God, please let me pass this test. Dear God, please let me hit a home run even though I didn’t practice all week. Dear God, please let me get an A on this monster of a paper for Mrs. Rogers.
Now I just wish that no poor child would be sentenced to the complete awkwardness that is middle school.
On to Freshman year - I wish I had paid attention while reading Animal Farm. Sorry, Mr. Rice.
Sophomore year - I wish art class was all day instead of just one period.
Junior year - I wish I hadn't used passive voice in that paper for Mrs. Case.
Senior year - I really wish I didn’t have to stand up here and give this speech.
But now, as we come to the end of all we’ve ever known, and the beginning of our future, there are so many things I want to wish. And yet I know that sometimes the real magic happens when our wishes don't come true.
I wish I could hold on to the people that have become so dear to me through the years upon years at CAL. But I know that God will scatter us into the world to meet new people, love all people, and share just some of the lesson we learned here.
I wish things would never have to change. But I know that God can be the change through us, and that every new experience or person we encounter along the way will bring us closer to Him.
I wish all our dreams would come true. But I know the plans God has for us will be even better than we could ask or imagine, so I pray that we keep our hearts and our passions open to His call, wherever it may lead.
And finally, as we take on this next stage of our lives, I wish for more wishes, and that you all will keep wishing, too.