NUTLEY, NJ - Nutley High School Class of 2018 Salutatorian Saira Somnay told her classmates to 'focus on what you can positively impact' as her classmates prepared to go to college, enter the workforce, or serve in the military. 

Her address to students included the power of music, inspiration from teachers, and gratitude for those who supported her along the way. 

TAPinto Nutley obtained Somnay's address to the Nutley High School Class of 2018: 

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"Good evening and welcome administrators, Board members, friends, family, teachers and fellow classmates.

First things first, congratulations to Nutley High School’s Class of 2018! I am truly honored to be speaking at such a joyous and momentous occasion. In exchange for the memories I have made here, I hope I am able to leave each of you with one, last, small, meaningful memory.

When tasked with writing this speech, I struggled with what to say. I was advised to write a five minute speech which would be due by a certain week in June. Before I knew it, that week came faster than I expected. How was I to take the last four years as a student of Nutley High School with my individual experience and connect with my classmates and this entire audience, most of whom I’ve never met?

I sat staring at a blank document. As always, when completing homework or writing assignments, I had music playing in the background (a habit my dad has always been concerned about). Well this time, its use was invaluable to me. When the song “When You Were Young” by The Killers came on, I was finally struck with a message I wanted to share with you all today. It is the message or lesson that has made me who I am today. Usually, when I discover a song I enjoy, I listen to it repeatedly until I can’t listen to it anymore, something I’m sure many of you do as well. However, I can never get sick of this song. After getting caught up with the catchy riffs and choral refrains, the song’s message shined through and has stuck with me.

With lyrics such as “Like you imagined when you were young,” “You sit there in your heartache” and “Easy now, watch it go,” I was able to easily connect and appease the turbulent and changing shifts of junior and senior year with the song’s interesting message: everything is not going to be as perfect as we picture it “When [we] were young.” And therefore, one should not overdramatize or dwell on situations that go awry, simply deal with them and make the most out of what we’re given. Calmly “arrange whatever pieces come your way.” 

Though the song and its message is somewhat simplistic, extending its themes leads to an even more complex, perhaps melancholic, lesson; given that, I debated whether or not to include it in my speech. However, I ultimately decided to do so since I felt that it was in keeping with the bittersweet air that surrounds us all today. As it is not my intention to sugarcoat, I will offer this message to you. Something that we have no control over is TIME. In fact, as my dad always reminds me, it’s truly the only thing we do not have an unlimited amount of; money, friends and even love can come and go, but time only goes.

To us, sometimes time moves fast, and sometimes it moves slow. In reality, it’s all passing at the same speed, but it feels like it’s never passing at the speed we desire it to. This past year flew by in the blink of an eye, and the time we have  left before parting paths for college, work, and the armed forces feels fleeting. Since it seems like time is always working against us, we must learn to harness it and not waste it. Getting caught up in the past or stressing about the future won’t change anything, so push past it and prioritize what you can control. Better yet, take what time you have and focus on what you can positively impact.

Over the course of high school, especially the past two years, I’ve made an effort to incorporate this principle into my life. I still haven’t perfected it, but plan to use it as my guide as I navigate the inevitably choppy waters of college. So my hope is that all of you here today celebrating with us, most importantly my fellow graduates, consider this message and use it as you begin to make your marks on the world. Referencing what Noah has said about our journey through high school, it is clear that we’ve already done so much good, and I have no doubt we will all continue to do so after we leave the nurturing and inspiring environment of Nutley High School.

Speaking of inspiration, there are some people I would like to thank for inspiring me everyday. By the number of times I mentioned him in my speech, I think you all can tell my dad has had quite an influence over me. Dad, thank you for spending countless hours with me working on homework, practicing on the tennis court and sharing your quirky wisdom. I would also like to thank my mom. I hope to be even half the person you are and am forever grateful for your unwavering support on everything I do (and I apologize again for going so far away for college). Lolo and Lola, you always put my needs ahead of yours and I would not have made it through without your love and care. Finally, I would like to thank my stepdad, John, Miss Paino, all my teachers, and all my friends, especially Anna-Charlotte, Ruksar and Ashley, people who had a special hand in making my high school experience as amazing as it was.

And now, it is my great honor and pleasure to introduce to you someone who is a very close friend of mine. The Nutley High School Class of 2018 Valedictorian: Rauf Ural."


Related article: "The absence of comfort is the fuel of change" Nutley Valedictorian Rauf Ural tells Class of 2018

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