(Over the last two issues the Story City Herald has published the speeches from the 2013 commencement exercises. This week we conclude with Ena Moats.)

So, here’s the thing. I knew all year I was going to have to give a graduation speech. That gave me a year to think of a completely unique, original theme to base this speech off of, and it would blow your minds. I wanted it to be enlightening, to be passionate, to be powerful without it sounding like all other graduation speeches we’ve all heard before. I started writing down some ideas, I even wrote an entirely different speech, and I was really excited because at the time I was so immersed in these ideas that they all seemed brilliant and creative. But then I realized all of my ideas were cliché. All of the words I wanted to share with you today had already been said, all the emotions built up around graduation and our futures and life lessons had already been felt. Everyone had already shared their thoughts on elementary school memories, football games, musicals, prom, and the cheese castle. High school seemed like one big cliché. But somehow, these overused, exaggerated, generic high school themes, sayings, and ideas still had meaning.

All those warnings we were given, saying "Enjoy high school while you can, it goes by so fast" suddenly became realities as the end of senior year snuck up out of the unlit hallways of Roland-Story. These 10 months of senior year seem like a complete blur. Bits and pieces of memories stand out, but as a whole this school year seemed to go by in a matter of minutes. Perhaps it was because as high school students we were all so busy with basketball, marching band, cheerleading, and chess club we didn’t have enough time to eat let alone do our homework. Maybe it was because of classes like humanities and government where we pondered issues bigger than ourselves and forgot to think about silly high school matters for a while. Or maybe it was simply because at that moment during 4th period right before lunch, sitting in that familiar desk, counting the minutes to the bell, dreaming about graduation day, we never realized that —continued from page 1

those were minutes of high school we would never get back.

Now, before all these parents and teachers get the impression that all we did in school was daydream, I would like to clarify that we did work hard at our school work… most of the time. Think of all those late nights studying and writing papers and checking facebook every other minute. Our educators might even go so far as to say the Class of 2013 was the "best and brightest," a cliché I am more than willing to accept. But really, each one of us is the best, each one of us is bright in our own way. I almost need sunglasses as I stand up here and look at all of you shining your light onto this graduation stage. Every person that make up the Class of 2013 has different qualities, quirks that create a dazzling array of talent and capability. The world is lucky to get to know each one of you as you shine forth. Even from our desks in 4th period our light illuminated the path to today.

Now that we finally made it there, the saying "It’s not the end, it’s only the beginning" comes to mind. This day and the rest of our lives are just beginning. But before we look too far forward into the futures, before we lose even more of this moment, let us first take the time to let this moment have its life. Enjoy who you are right now. Enjoy those sitting next to you, because this is the last time we will get the chance to be all together, joined in excitement and happiness. Then let us dedicate a moment of this delicate time to be grateful for each other and for the time we’ve had together. So for now, try not to think about the end, nor the beginning just yet. Enjoy the moment - Yep, there’s another cliché.

The reason why all these sayings are so common, so worn, and customary is because they’re true. All the "lasts", last math test, last football game, last prom, last day of school, were still impactful, still created a rush of emotion, whether it was sadness, relief, loss, excitement or joy. No matter how many times we were asked, "So what are your plans for next year?" our answers never failed to be filled with pride and confidence as we proclaimed to the world our future plans. However, severe cases of "senioritis", however confident and grown up we look on the outside, however hard it is for some of us to admit, we actually might miss this a little tiny bit. So today let us give in to these clichés. Let us celebrate our pasts and our futures, but most of all let us celebrate today. Because today is the day we eat tons of graduation food and enjoy the feeling of being stuffed with pulled pork, potato salad, cupcakes, friendship, memories and happiness.

So, classmates, I’ll leave you with the biggest graduation cliché of them all. You’ve heard it in songs (I won’t start singing these, don’t worry even though mom really wanted me to), movies, somewhere in pop culture. But now it is time to live it. Here it is, the big one, the most profound and most honest part of graduation that we can ever hope to understand: This is the time of our lives. Are we having fun yet?