Continue to push yourself throughout the rest of your lives as you pursue your passions and find new ones.

Good evening, everyone. I would like to begin by congratulating my 99 sisters. It is truly an honor to be standing here with you. It’s difficult to believe that these four incredible years are coming to a close, but you all have achieved so much. I know that you all will go on to achieve even more incredible things. On behalf of the graduating class, I would also like to thank all of our friends and family members for not only coming to celebrate our graduation this evening, but also for your unwavering support these past four years. I would also like to thank all of the teachers and faculty members who have played such important roles in all of our lives throughout high school. We have learned so much from each and every one of you as you both support and challenge us to become the young women we are today.

As I began to write this, I could not help but think about all that we have overcome as a grade. Although these past four years are supposed to be considered some of the greatest years of our lives, our high school experience has not been an easy journey. I know that I speak for each young woman on this stage when I say that this journey has been filled with smiles, laughs, tears, and the occasional nervous breakdown.

Being a member of the Academy of the Holy Names’ graduating class is an accomplishment in and of itself, because of the challenges we have faced inside of the classroom. Our teachers have not been afraid to push us because they know of the potential each of you girls have. The countless essays we’ve written, and all of the tests and quizzes we have taken were not meant to be easy. The point was to push us to learn, and I know that you’ve all been able to succeed. The hard work, the hours of studying, and the nights spent working on homework have not been in vain. Your dedication has led you to this stage, and I hope you are all proud of what you have accomplished academically at the Academy. It surely was not easy, but we’ve all come so far and learned so much in these four years, and I hope you all will remember what you’ve learned inside the classroom not just about subjects but also about yourselves.

You’ve all managed to challenge yourselves in some way to be better than you were the day before outside of the classroom. For those girls who are athletes, you leave all of your strength and power on the field or race course. Every artist and performer on this stage obviously puts their heart and soul into their work. Others have found their passions in one of the unique clubs offered at AHN, dedicating hours of their time and energy to making that club more successful each day. I have seen so many girls pushing themselves as they follow their passions, and I want you all to remember the passion you have for that certain activity that you love. Continue to push yourself throughout the rest of your lives as you pursue your passions and find new ones.

The most difficult challenge we have faced together has been the loss of our angel, Sydney Wynne. Sometimes the most tragic events can bring people closer than you would imagine. Yes, the experience was incredibly painful and still can be at times, but we have chosen to honor Sydney in such beautiful ways. We have been able to come together and unite as a class to remember our sister in some of the brightest ways. Each girl has honored Sydney’s memory in a personal way and we have been able to do so together as a united class. I know you all will continue to honor Sydney and remember our angel for the rest of your lives, but I also hope that everyone has been able to realize that a tragedy can lead to growth and unity.

We have all been able to survive these challenges we have faced throughout high school because we have each other. I believe that the main reason we have been able to be so successful is because of the support we have from our 99 sisters. Never have I seen a group of such wonderful, unique girls bond so strongly, and I know that I can rely on each and every one of you. If you all are able to go out into this world and treat people with the same love and support we have shown one another, I know that there will be so much that each and every girl will be able to accomplish. That type of love is so rare, and we need more people like all of you in this world, making it a better place. So as we continue on to the next phases of our lives, I hope that nobody fears the future because you will always remember that your 99 sisters love and support you regardless of any outcome.

I would like to close with a quote from one of my favorite movies of all time, Mulan. “The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” While we have all faced a variety of obstacles, we are all standing here together tonight as the graduating class of 2016, all continuing on to unimaginable successes.

Congratulations, ladies!