Home » School » Well, Well, Well…
Escalante's eleven graduates seated on stage at their graduation.

Ryen: If you don’t already know, Korben and I have been mortal enemies for years, competing for valedictorian since freshman year. But for the first time ever, we decided on a truce to do this speech together. If you’re wondering who the real valedictorian is … it’s probably one of us two.

Korben: We can only hope to stand here and say something inspirational. I wish I could give some profound life advice or reassure our parents that we know exactly what we’re doing. But we’ve only ever known the blissful life of a small-town teenager.

Ryen: So I think I need to take this time to acknowledge the fact that while some of us are eager to leave … our little community has done an amazing job at raising us. Sometimes, we take it all for granted, but really, would we rather grow up anywhere else? If you haven’t noticed, it’s actually beautiful out here, and it gets to be our backyard. As kids, we got to ride our pedal bikes, horses, dirt bikes, or side-by-sides through town and go home when the streetlights came on. On Fridays we’d go really crazy and play night games at the park until 10:00.

Korben: When we got older we could drive across the whole town in 5 minutes. We spent the warmest days eating Outfitters pizza, swimming at the reservoir, some of us tanning, some getting sunburned. When it wasn’t the reservoir, we could always celebrate the end of school at Upper Calf Creek, have a day full of fun and then hike back up. I don’t think our parents knew where we were half the time but they hardly ever worried about us.

This town gave us our school, and the Moquis, a mascot that I am proud to cheer for, and a student body that I am proud to belong to. It gave us teachers and an advisor who genuinely cared about us enough to get us here.

Ryen and Korben at the podium speaking at Escalante's graduation.
Ryen and Korben give their joint valedictorian speech at Escalante’s graduation, May 25, 2024. Courtesy of AJ Martel, The Byway.

Ryen: But most importantly, it gave us a class of 11 people, who I couldn’t imagine graduating without. Over these 14 years, we’ve grown to be great friends. When you’ve spent every day together for as long as you can remember, and watched each other grow up, you could either grow to hate each other, or grow so emotionally attached that you make a whole speech about them.  

Mazee. You’re the life of the party and a crazy talented athlete but you are always there for a good rant or conversation. You’ve always kept us in check and have never been afraid to use your voice, and I hope that you carry that with you to Oklahoma.

Korben: Kendal. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. You have grown tremendously both in height and attitude. You have always been an amazing motivator especially on the basketball court. You are one of the hardest workers I know and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the influence you have had on me. And I know you will be an excellent missionary.

Ryen: Raylin. You went from being the mom of the class to being more like the cool uncle. You’ve been such an important team player when it comes to planning anything. You have made every moment with the class count. You are motivated and driven and that will take you so far in life.

Korben: George. Joining us in 9th grade I’m truly glad you ended up in our small town. You are always a great person to talk to when at school or church. You have always put effort into learning something unfamiliar to you. Keep being curious George.

Ryen: Jilly. You only came last year and completely immersed yourself into our class and we are so much better for it. You’re a firecracker through and through and because of that, there is never a dull moment. You are now such an important part of our lives and we are so lucky to have you.

Korben: Hayden. You are one of the nicest people I know. I’ve enjoyed the many hours we have spent together over the years even though half of them we were probably locked up in our rooms playing video games.

Ryen: Kelton. Of course you’re pretty much our class mother. You have done all of our shopping, and been the one we ask when we’re too scared to make a phone call. You have been my personal travel buddy and I know you will continue that after high school.

Korben: Adrian. Where do I start. You say and do the most out-of-pocket stuff and we love you for it. You can bring a smile to any situation even when it’s supposed to be serious. You have an amazing work ethic. You put time into learning about your passions, especially by watching YouTube on your three monitor PC.

Ryen: Sadie. Whether it’s drawing, writing or painting you are seriously so creative. You can take mere concepts from your mind and express it in a way that is so rare. You are so lovely and so sweet.

I am infinitely grateful to call this town my home. These people mean more to me than they will ever know. I know that we wished this all away countless times and we never thought that this day would come, but I know that if we could do it all again, we would.

Korben: We’re all off to do better things in this new chapter of our lives and I have no doubt in our success. Just follow Derlynne’s advice: Experience everything you can and don’t get married until you’re 27.

Ryen: I wish every one of you all the best and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

Korben: I feel the need to give one final thanks to all of Boulder and Escalante for raising us the way you did, and teaching us that you get what you work for, not what you wish for. So from the bottom of our hearts, 

Thank you!

by Ryen Treanor and Korben Young, Valedictorians, Escalante High School

Feature image courtesy of AJ Martel, The Byway.

Read last year’s Escalante valedictorian speech in Making the Goal by Briannon Woolsey.

Read other schools’ graduation speeches starting with Go Get Your Plate by Lacey Ellett.