Rachel Boone is Phoenixville Area High School's salutatorian and one of their student commencement speakers.
She is 18-years-old and an accomplished student and athlete.
Rachel was named MVP of the school's Physics Olympics Team and received the Math and Science Award for the senior class. For the past two years she was selected for the Pioneer Athletic Conference All-Area Academic Team in both field hockey and softball for having the highest GPA on her team.
This fall, Rachel will attend Swarthmore College where she will play softball for and major in Biology and possibly double major in Applied Math. After graduating, she plans to attend University of Pennsylvania's veterinary school in order to achieve her dream in becoming a veterinarian.
Here is the speech Rachel will give at the 2013 Phoenixville Area High School commencement ceremony.
I Thrive on Amorphous C’s
As the school year came to a close, I found myself wondering what was the point of the past 12 years of my life? Were all the late nights and countless hours of studying worth it? Why did I even bother to study anyway? A naïve student might answer, to get good grades. But what are grades anyway besides numbers? They only have value because we give them value. They do not really mean anything or even matter now. An outgoing student might answer, to make many friendships that will last a lifetime. This may be true for some, but the reality of the situation is that although a few of us may stay in touch, I will likely never see most of you again after tonight. A student who only views a situation superficially might answer the question, to get an education. But my question to this student is an education in what? Much of what we learn in school is not relevant to our career paths, and we may never use much of the information we have acquired ever again.
So what was the point then? I am the last person for you to look to for all of the answers, but my answer to the question is to discover a passion for true learning. What we learned in high school is not nearly as important as how we learned. Memorizing fun facts like a group of jellyfish is called a smack or that James Madison was nicknamed the “Father of the Constitution” may be fun to share with your friends, but if all you take away from 12 years of schooling are fun facts, I believe you have missed the point. We must learn in order to understand, not to simply remember until our test next Tuesday. We must learn to appreciate how easily we are able to access information about anything, and we must learn take advantage of it.
College and trade schools provide ample opportunities to learn. Where else and when else do you have the opportunity to surround yourself with thousands of other people who are just as excited about learning as you are? I challenge you to learn to love learning: to read a textbook for a class, not because you have to but because you want to, to actually try to learn how to do that one thing that you have always wanted to try, and to become so consumed by what you are learning or doing that you don’t realize that hours have passed and you that you actually forgot to eat lunch.
Sometimes I think about how I wish I could be a student for the rest of my life, but then I realize, we all are. As Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Indian speaker and writer on philosophical and spiritual subjects once said, “There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” I challenge you all to dedicate yourselves to a life of learning, no matter what you choose to do with your futures.
So Class of 2013, I now ask you, what was the point of the past 12 years of your schooling? I feel as though we often live our lives by simply going through the motions, but we must stop ourselves from time to time to ask ourselves why. I hope your answers bring you all a sense of closure.
So no graduation speech is quite complete without the classic cliché ending, so I would like to leave you with a few words from one of my favorite writers, Dr. Seuss. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” With that, I would like to congratulate you all and wish you the best with your futures as lifelong students.
Published at 10:59 AM EDT on Jun 17, 2013