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Gracie Wiseman cap and gown photo.

Three Things I’ve Learned from this Journey

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and family, faculty and fellow graduates, I am honored to be speaking to you and proud to say I have worked very hard to be standing here tonight.

In addressing the last 12 years of my life and giving some advice to my fellow classmates, I’d like to talk about three main things I’ve learned from this journey to where I am today.

First: Appreciate every stage of life.

I’m not sure how many of us have been counting down the days until graduation or any major event in our lives, but one thing is for sure: time flies, and the last thing we should do is wish it away. As my dad once told me, “Life’s fast, so I drive slow.” There is a lot of life before us, and while it’s definitely easier to wish for more than to consider what we already have. I ask you all to stop and smell the roses, look out the car window, and savor every moment.

In a world of better things, don’t forget about where you started. While Bryce Valley may not be your favorite place, remember that you learned so much more than you thought from this valley. Whether you’re experiencing firsts or lasts, you are exactly where you need to be.

And in the end you may never realize when you do something for the very last time, so I encourage all of you to appreciate the stage of life you are in now, pleasing or not; I believe all things are beautiful; you just gotta squint sometimes.

Second: Overuse “I love you.”

As I mentioned, there isn’t enough time in this life to take anything for granted, especially those whom you love. In the end, you should never regret not saying “I love you.”

Don’t be ashamed to love while no love is ever wasted. This also includes yourself; loving yourself is one of the most important things. Also never define yourself — just because something is said or written on a piece of paper doesn’t mean you aren’t ever worthy of love!

I’d also like to extend this second thing to saying “thank you.” I’m a firm believer that saying the words “thank you” to someone can never be said enough. Throughout my time at Bryce Valley, I’ve been influenced by many people. From parents to teachers to friends, I owe you my most sincere “thank you” for helping me be where I am today.

Still, my ultimate inspiration comes from my best friend, the dazzling woman from whom I received my name and my lifeblood. Phoebe Wiseman, my mother, never gave me any idea that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do, or be whomever I wanted to be. She filled our house with love, and fun, and books, and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austin to Larry McMurtry to Brooks and Dunn as she guided me through these incredible 18 years. I don’t know if she ever realized the person I most wanted to be was her. Thank you, Mom. You are my guidepost for everything.

Third: Don’t be afraid to work hard.

After tonight, we will all be chasing some kind of dream. I hope you all find something you want to do and put some time into it, and when it gets tough, keep moving forward. 

Throughout my high school experience, I learned the importance of determination and resilience in anything I did. As the wise Woodrow F. Call once said, “If you are given things easily, you don’t always appreciate them.” I was once told that you get out of life what you put into it, so I urge you all to put everything you’ve got into life and make it well spent! You are who you are, and happiness is different for all of us, but I wish you all the best in finding your own success.

But the road to success has never been easy for anyone, so don’t be afraid to live and learn. I also advise you to stand up for yourself and to never let someone destroy your dreams. Lastly, don’t be your own enemy; sometimes you’ve got to fake it ‘till you make it. We are not here for a long time, but a good time, so be nice to yourself, believe in yourself, and never give up.

And never forget, heroes get remembered; legends never die.

Thank you.

by Gracie Wiseman, Valedictorian, Bryce Valley High School

Feature image caption: Gracie Wiseman, one of two Bryce Valley Valedictorians in 2024. Courtesy of BVHS.

Read more Bryce Valley speeches in Let Yourself Be Happy by Skyler Ott, Be Resilient by Oscar Word, and Forward with Determination by Bradi Gates.