The following three speeches were given at Centennial High School's graduation ceremony Saturday, June 8, at Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Every year students apply for a chance to speak at graduation. A committee of eight staff reviews the applications and looks at experience, uniqueness of the essay, speaking experience, student style/presence and involvement/influence in school. This year, around 20 students applied and four students (three speeches) were selected. 

Hannah Olson & Ashley Peterson

Hannah Olson & Ashley Peterson

Hannah Olson & Ashley Peterson 

H: Hi, I’m Hannah.

A: And I’m Ashley. 

H: And if you weren’t already aware, 

H, A: We’re best friends 

H: We’re here to talk to you about friendship, or as they say in the Princess Bride- 

A: Hannah, stop, nobody is going to understand the reference and it isn’t funny 

H: My instagram poll was 89% positive, they totally get it! Everyone has seen The Princess Bride! Right??   Please, Ash? 

A: Just get over with it. 

H: Or as they’d say in the Princess Bride, “Fwendship” 

A: Joined at the hip for the past four years, we have done everything together. 

H: Just like some other best friend duos- 

A: Like Sydney Shepardson and Caitlin Kuehborn, 

H: Jack Harris and Jacob Brewer, 

A: And like Mr. Bruening and Ms. Baaland! We think ...

H: As Canadian songwriter David Tyson once said, 

H, A: “True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable.” A: We sincerely believe that without strong friendships, life isn’t as special.

H: My high school experience would have been completely different without her at my side these last four years. 

A: We’ve been through the highs, like being section finalists as speech co-captains and duo partners. 

H: But we’ve also been through the lows, like losing our dear speech coach and mentor, Mr. Quinlan. 

A: There is no way we’d be up on this stage speaking to all of you if it wasn’t for his dedication and coaching. 

H, A: Thank you, Q.

H: If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that even in the lowest lows, you’ll always have true friends to go through it with you. 

A: But as we leave behind our high school careers, we also are forced to leave behind friends who have accompanied us throughout the years. 

H: We are attending different colleges in the fall—which is why I will be instituting a mandatory FaceTime at least once a week 

A: Fine. 

H: The future can be full of a lot of unknowns—and it can be terrifying. 

A: As we transition into college, the military, the work force, or gap years, we’ll all be faced with new situations and new relationships.

H: This is your time to look forward to the future and expand your horizons, and you don't have to do it alone.

A: The friends you have made in high school have guided you on your path towards new opportunities as well as new friendships. 

H: Don’t take these opportunities for granted, but also don’t forget to hold onto the people that made your opportunities possible.

A: All of us have worked our butts off for the past four years, both separately and together, we have made it to the finish line. 

H: From forced group projects, to letting the kids in the next hour know what’s on the test, we have pushed through these last few years as anything but alone. 

A: To quote Winnie the Pooh—

H: Wait what? 

A: Aren’t we ending with the Winnie the Pooh quote? 

H: I thought we were gonna sing the BFF song from the Spongebob Squarepants Musical!

A: No, we didn’t agree on that. I love you but no. 

H: Okay, fine ... How about this? 

H: To quote Winnie the Pooh ...

A: “If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together … 

H: There is something you must always remember. 

A: You are braver than you believe …

H: stronger than you seem … 

A: and smarter than you think …  

H: But the most important thing is, even if we're apart ... 

H, A: I'll always be with you.”


Katelyn Espe

Katelyn Espe 

Katelyn Espe 

My dad and I have had an inside joke since sixth grade where when I come home from school every day the first thing he says is “did you learn anything today?” and I’d reply with an obnoxious “no.” And let’s face it, some days school did seem pretty pointless; for instance, when are we ever going to need to know what a gerund phrase is or the process of glycolysis, let alone the ancient rulers of the Ottoman Empire. But to reassure all the parents here, mostly you Dad, that your efforts to keep us motivated (especially during the senior slide) weren’t for nothing, I thought I’d share a list of the five most important things I’ve learned in high school—besides the quadratic formula. 

1. Don’t drink the water in the red building.

2.  Sometimes when it’s raining you just have to put on your rain jacket and smile. We’ve had the privilege of attending a high school with two buildings, and although I’ve heard they are connecting them in the future, I’m thankful we got the opportunity to have to suck it up. This one also applies to when teachers say “...well in college you’ll have to...” since all the campuses I’ve visited have consisted of a dining hall that isn’t connected to the dorms. My favorite part about my friends is they always know how to laugh in any situation and that positivity is truly contagious, even if it mimics apathy. Such as after the AP Calc exam, when Ellie Jensen said, “I can’t wait for my college to see my score and kick me back to pre-calc.”

3. 3. Find something to appreciate about everything. When I told Mr. Broberg that I hated physics in 9th grade, his cure was to try and get me to relate physics to the thing I loved most at the time, which was theatre. Despite physics and theatre being a bit of a stretch, I  was  able to connect it to the logic puzzles I love doing on my phone. This made each problem challenging in good way, and I soon found myself excited to do physics. By simply changing my viewpoint on the subject, I was able to see it in such an intriguing, creative way, and that has inspired me to study physics at college next year. As long as you can find  something  to admire when faced with a less than ideal situation, the world will be yours to make of it. 

4. It's okay to be a duck. Hear me out on this one. My worst class in high school was AP Bio; I had been pretty sick with mono for a majority of the semester and so my attendance record (and grade percentage) weren’t too great. I went in for midterm conferences expecting to be criticized for not keeping up with my workload but instead all Mr. Mardquart said was, “I think Katelyn is like a duck,” which confused me and my parents a considerable amount. What he had meant by that, he clarified, was that from above the water I seemed to be smoothly gliding, but below it, I was paddling frantically just to stay afloat. Looking back it reminds me of an Arnie Lamer’s quote: “True learning begins at frustration.” I’m pretty sure all of us who had Mr. Lamers have been frustrated at some point or another, but as the wise man says, “Let the learning begin.” Which I think is the point of being a duck: as long as you keep paddling when faced with challenges, you’re getting somewhere, and that’s all that matters. 

5. It means more to understand the facts than to memorize them. I believe high school was about learning how to learn rather than learning what we learned. Nothing that was introduced to us became clear until we could fit it into the big picture; discovering how to fit the information in, how to logically solve things, connect the dots, conceptualize in a way that we have never been able to before - that’s what we will take out of high school over anything else. I think this relates to the square root of -1 or the imaginary number i. Although the number itself does not exist independently, once you start plugging it into equations everything about those math problems starts making sense. Even though at times it was hard to see high school big picture, the small things we’ve learned along the way are what give meaning to our time here at Centennial. So don’t forget to reflect on the things  you’ve  learned in high school, keep paddling, and remember to keep your eyes open for everything that you have left to learn wherever life takes you next.

Reese Peck Cowles

Reese Peck Cowles

Reese Peck Cowles

The graduating class of 2019 has dealt with light-hearted and serious issues. From school shootings to being a part of the age group to elect people of all religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations to our great democracy. Through the terrible and terrific, I have seen this group students come and stand together for those, they may not know. We stand for those who may not have a voice and help those who do, speak their mind. We have smiled, suffered, cheered and cried together. Whether it’s celebrating one of our sports teams going to state, or dealing with the realness of the tragic consequences shown through the Arrive Alive crash and funeral, we have experienced it together. That is what life is all about. Going through life, experiencing things is great, but what impact does it have if the experiences aren’t with friends? How will we leave our community a better place, if we don’t interact and contribute to it? We as humans are social creatures, we crave interaction with people because that brings us satisfaction and happiness. We help build our community through the connections we make with others. The great philosopher,  Plato emphasized that we, as humans, are not self-sufficient, we need others, and we benefit from our social interactions, from other person’s talents, aptitudes, and friendship. Life has many twists and turns, but we are together, with our friends and family, our enemies and allies. No matter where you go, what you do, or what happens in your life, always know that the people in this auditorium right here, right now, will be there for you. There is an old fable that talks about a father and his sons. A father has a family of sons that constantly argue, and despite his efforts to stop the fighting, it continued. One day the father came up with a simple task for the boys, to bring him a bundle of sticks. Then, he ordered them individually to break each bundle into pieces. When all the sons attempted and failed to do so, the father separated the bundle and gave a stick to each of his sons, which they broke with ease. Then the father addressed them and said,  “My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this bundle of sticks, uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies; but if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks.”   Just as the fable about the father and his sons means to say, in unity there is strength. Together we are able to do any task, overcome any obstacle, and conquer any foe we face. I hope that every single student here understands that when we leave, we are not alone. We are never alone. This amazing opportunity we have been given called life is a blessing, and we can do anything we can imagine, together.

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