For the past 13 years we have worked so hard to graduate. And now that moment is here. It may not be a Friday night under the lights. But what matters is that we did it.

Now that our time as high school students is over, we start a new chapter in life. Whether we go into college, work, or the military, we start doing things for ourselves.

We shouldn’t let anyone define what our success is going to be. And from seeing who my classmates are, they won’t let anyone tell them who to be.

Many of us hated high school. We all couldn’t wait to get out of here and live life the way we wanted to. We say we won’t miss high school, but deep down we all know we will miss something. Payson High School is like a home. I know I am certainly going to miss walking by Ms. Meagan holding my Dutch and her asking “Where’s mine?” I know I will miss lunch with my friends, windows down, and the music playing so loud that the cars next to us can hear it. Or going to Green Valley on a night of a dance and taking pictures, and dancing till our feet hurt. Chanting at football games with purple and gold dots on our faces, posters up, screaming, and having confetti cannons.

Our senior year was cut short, and we didn’t get to experience the lasts of high school. But, what we should be thankful for is that during the circumstances that are happening, we all are happy and healthy.

There have been times where I thought graduating was going to be really hard, or that I wasn’t going to make it. Many of us also have thought the same thing. But what pushed us is our family, our teachers, staff, and friends.

There are many thank yous that I want to give out. But the ones that mean the most are to my aunt and uncle. Thank you for everything that you guys have done for me. Also Mr. Colin White and Mrs. Trevillyan thank you for everything you guys have done. You guys were my rock at PHS.

It’s time for us to say goodbye and go our separate ways now. But before we do, I want to leave you with two quotes. They both are from RuPaul and both have a powerful meaning. The first one “If you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you going to love anybody else.” Always love yourself and be happy. You are your biggest support system, but also can be your downfall. “When you become the image of your own imagination, it’s the most powerful thing you can do.” Be who you want to be, and do what you want to do. Now for the last goodbye. You all will do amazing things. And remember it’s great to be a longhorn!

Editor’s note: This story has been edited for print because of space constraints. View the entire speech at payson.com

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