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Emma Wilde speaking at Piute High School graduation.

Good evening and welcome to the graduation of the class of 2024.

First of all, I’d like to thank all the teachers and faculty who have helped us get to this stage today. The faculty told us we’re the most stubborn and “tell everyone how it is” class, so I’m not sure they liked us very much. I’d also like to thank our family and friends for coming out to support us in our final moments as Piute High School students, we greatly appreciate it. There is no way we would be up here if it weren’t for all of you. Thank you.

If you know me you probably know I take my firsts and lasts pretty seriously. Every time something is starting or ending you’ll probably hear me say this is our first … or this is our last … and then have everyone who’s by me get in a picture. In fact, I’ve probably taken thousands of pictures just today because of all of the lasts we had in the past 24 hours. So if you give me a second I’m going to get another one … [Emma takes selfie with class in background]

Anyway, while most of us don’t remember our first steps or when we got our first tooth there are many firsts we do remember. I know for me I remember my first days of preschool, my first time listening to Mrs. Riddle read Dr. Seuss, and our first time pranking Janetta in 4th grade with a snake. With many firsts, there are also many lasts we have to encounter. I vividly remember my last day of 6th grade at Circleville Elementary and crying because that chapter of our lives was ending.

Then, as we started high school many more firsts began like our first practices and games with a high school team, the first day of each new school year, and our first club events. While the first three years at the high school brought many firsts, unfortunately now as seniors we have to face many lasts. Our last time playing on our home court, our last boxing matches against classmates, our last class trip, and our last time signing yearbooks.

Needless to say, there is a lot of change ahead for all of us and I’m just as scared as I was in 6th grade about moving ahead. However, I do know that this is just the close of a chapter and that we will all make it through the next six chapters and many more, just like we did when we entered these high school doors.

Emma Wilde at the podium taking a selfie at Piute's graduation.
Emma Wilde snaps one last selfie with her class during her graduation speech on May 23, 2024. Courtesy of AJ Martel, The Byway.

As a last speech as a high school student, I’d like to share something with you that will hopefully make the firsts more meaningful and the lasts more heartfelt. As I was writing this speech I found an article called “A Life of Firsts and Lasts” by Anthony Bui, about how important first and last experiences are in creating memories. 

The article talks about how if you’re constantly wishing nothing will change then you’ll miss the opportunities that are being given to you in the moment. I’d like to read you a quote from that article, that says, “Don’t skip out on the beginning to wait at the end. How you start is pivotal to the outcome of your journey.” 

While most of us are excited to move on with our lives after high school, I’d advise that we all take the time right now to appreciate what we had during high school and all the memories we made. Someday I believe we will look back at high school and miss “the good ol’ days” but it is important that we start our futures with excitement rather than sadness because our “good ol’ days” are over. 

Trying to appreciate the past, and look forward to the future, but still being in the moment is no easy balancing act. It always seems that we are either caught up in something that happened a long time ago or thinking about what will happen in the future. Living in the moment also helps us recognize more of our first and lasts, but for me, I always seem to remember the lasts.

Firstly I want to apologize to my dad for bringing this up, but I felt it was an important story. About two years ago my dad’s sister Josie died of breast cancer. As some of you know, my dad’s side of the family lives in Nebraska and we spend a week in the summer out at their ranch. Well our trip was coming to an end in 2021 and my aunt was not doing well with her cancer treatments, but we had celebrated what would be her last birthday and I know we all cherished that last summer we had together.

The reason I bring this up is because it was one of the lasts in my life that I will always remember. We were about to head out the door and give hugs to everyone. As we sat around the kitchen table and started to say our goodbyes I realized that this could very well be the last time I hug my aunt. So when it was my turn I gave her the best hug I could and with tears in my family’s eyes we drove away from my grandma’s house. Josie ended up passing away that August, but because we had been given the opportunity to say goodbye we made it meaningful. While it is not easy to have our lasts with someone, if we take the time to be in the moment we can recognize how influential and amazing the people around us are.

Now I know this isn’t a church talk but I would like to take this moment to be a witness. I believe Jesus Christ came to this earth for all of us and that he died for every person here. I heard a quote that says, “Every person you meet is a soul Jesus died to save.” So be a little gentler and kinder with everyone around you.

My senior quote is, “You only live once, but if you do it right once is enough.” I believe that is true because like I said I’m a sentimental person when it comes to firsts and lasts. Because we only live once and have one shot at life is the reason I cherish my firsts and lasts. 

We may be able to see firsts that come our way but lasts usually creep up on us and catch us off guard because we are always wishing for the past or future, but never living in the present. So I guess that my advice to my class is to try and be in the moment so you can appreciate your firsts and lasts for what they are, true memories of the great life we’ve been given.

Thank you again to all the faculty, family, and friends. We would not have grown into who we are today if it wasn’t for you. We are so lucky we get to spend our last moments as Piute High School students with you. You all have made one of our lasts memorable. Now that I’ve said first and last like 100 times, I hope you enjoy the program.

Thank you.

– by Emma Wilde, 2024 class President, Piute High School

Feature image caption: Class President Emma Wilde speaks at Piute High School’s graduation, May 23, 2024. Courtesy of AJ Martel, The Byway.

Read more about Piute speeches in Piute High School 2024 Graduation by Ari Hurdsman and Unapologetically You! by Hannah Davis.

Read more from Emma Wilde in Making Memories.