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Ryan's Graduation Speech

I think it is fitting that on our final night as Kingswood-Oxford students, we will all be here until about nine o’clock. It seems as if for many of us, K-O is a bed and a closet away from being an official second home. While the long hours spent in the classroom, on the fields, and on stage can be grueling, they are accepted parts of our daily routine.

In the fall of 2001, I came to K-O as a freshman. When I took my first step on campus, I did not know a single person, but I was ready. I was ready for a fresh start. I thought that high school could be a place where I could be anyone I wanted to be, and  I was ready to take advantage of everything my new school had to offer. I would soon learn, though, that in many ways, my high school career would fail to meet these expectations.

In January of 2002, after only four months at K-O, I came down with a case of double pneumonia. After spending a week at home and another in the hospital, I finally began to recover. When it was all said and done, though, I had missed the better part of a month of school, and the news would only get worse. While I was sick that winter, I had several X-rays, which revealed that a separate, long-standing lung disease was becoming far worse, and something needed to be done. That summer, my family and I traveled to Boston for a month, where I had an eighteen and a half hour surgery. Until winter vacation of sophomore year, I was only able to attend school for half of the day. It was a trying time that took a toll on me both emotionally and physically. Believe it or not, though, it didn’t stop there.

Last summer, it became clear that I had no choice but to have surgery for scoliosis, which I chose to have with three weeks left in the summer. When it was over, though I recovered well, the doctors told me that there was no way I would return to school on time. They clearly did not know who they were dealing with.

Equipped with the support of a back brace and my mom, I attended school on the first day of senior year. Now, the question you are probably wondering is, why am I telling you all this? No, it is certainly not that I want you to feel bad for me. The truth is, I am truly feeling better than ever, and I am ready to put these issues behind me. I do, however, have my reasons for telling you what happened. First of all, I know that to many of my classmates, my personal life has been somewhat of a mystery, and there is a reason for that. Truthfully, I did not want to tell you all very much about what was going on. Now, though, for some reason, I felt that I wanted you to all know the reality of the situation.

Secondly, I wanted everyone to know just how amazing Kingswood-Oxford has been for me throughout these difficult times. Every single one of my teachers has been remarkable in their understanding of my situation, and I am forever indebted to them for putting up with it. I would also like to thank both of my advisors, only one of whom is here tonight. Both Ms. Joyce and Mrs. Hanson were instrumental in making sure that things went as smoothly as possible for me when the road was bumpy. For that and more, I cannot possibly thank them enough.

Finally, I wanted to tell you what happened to me because there are a lot of things that can be learned from experiences like these. Believe me when I say that I wish I could have been one of the ones who spent 10 hours a day at school. To the juniors in the audience, I give you this: next year will be over in a heartbeat. Take advantage of every minute. Attend every school event that you can, and never pass up an opportunity to spend time with your friends.

And, last but not least, to my classmates: I wish you the best of luck next year. I have no doubt that you will all find happiness and success in whatever path you choose. The truth is, though, that the road will not always be smooth. When the going gets tough, I hope you will remember something that helped me get through the last four years. Even during the worst of times, always know that the best is yet to come.

Once again, I thank you all for four amazing years, and I wish you luck in the next four years, and beyond.

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