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Skyler Ott cap and gown photo.

Hello, Good evening, greetings fellow peers — however it is I’m supposed to greet you all.

Parents, Family, Friends, Teachers, and most importantly fellow graduates! Tonight is the night we all have been waiting for, hoping it would have come sooner than it has, but now that it is here wishing to go back. Tonight is a big night, tonight is the last time we will all stand side by side, having to line up in alphabetical order and is the last step in this 4+ year journey we have been on together.

Throughout my time spent in high school I have learned that there is a thin line between failure and success. Some may measure success by the titles you have, your GPA or ACT score, how many games, medals, or state titles you have won. 

I believe that success is measured on what you take from the things you have experienced. We are leaving this chapter of our life with friendships, memories, plenty of stories to share with those to come after us, and a few hard trials behind our belts! 

We have stuck together. We made it through countless recess games especially “boys chase girls” which always turned into “girls chase boys,” fundraisers, group projects, meet the mustangs, Friday assemblies, Prom, junior year as a whole, college classes, and now graduation. I consider us to be successful.

We have had fun and I hope none of us leave high school with regrets — now I’m sure some of you have seen this floating around social media but I am going to share it anyway. “The top 5 regrets of the dying”: 1) “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me,” 2) “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard,” 3) “I wish I had the courage to express my feelings,” 4) “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends,” 5) “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

After mentioning those I’m sure thoughts of regrets, plans, or things you wish you would have said or done popped into your head. If not, good on you, but fun fact less than 5% of your life has been spent here in high school. Don’t regret it; learn from it. Yes that is easier said than done I know, but what is the point in regret? You can’t go backwards.

As we move forward I wish, hope, and encourage all of us to live a life true to ourselves. Stand up for yourself and make your life all that you want it to be.

Take a break. I have always heard that life is short, but there’s enough of “life” to go around, so stop and savor all the beautiful moments you are going to walk through even if they seem bad, they won’t always.

Talk about your feelings, don’t be afraid to build relationships, and have connections. More often than not the people you meet throughout life will have a bigger impact on you then anything else, which leads me to say, stay in touch! Please, we have spent the past however many years getting to know each other, let’s not put it to waste.

Last but not least, let yourself be happy. High School to some is a walk in the park, but to me it has been a roller coaster which is fortunate because I love roller coasters, but it was filled of wonderful people, confusion, a lot of emotion, heartache, and cheer but all in all I am happy to be standing here today, with these wonderful individuals with the knowledge and education I have received from exemplary teachers, leaders, coaches, family and friends!

High school has been a time of my life I will refer to, a time I will tell my kids about, and a time I will miss, but Dr. Suess said it best: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Thank you!

by Skyler Ott, Salutatorian, Bryce Valley High School

Feature image caption: Skyler Ott, one of Bryce Valley’s Salutatorians. Courtesy of BVHS.

Skyler Ott and family.
Skyler Ott with her family after graduation on May 24, 2024. Courtesy of Skyler.

Read more Bryce Valley speeches in Be Resilient by Oscar Word and Forward with Determination by Bradi Gates.

Read more from Skyler in Bryce Valley Student Council of 2023-24 Signs Off.