Graduation Remarks Prepared by West Essex High School Salutatarian Daniel Kinney:
My name is Daniel Kenny and I am the class of 2014 salutatorian. Before I begin, I would like to give thanks to a few people: to our teachers for their never-ending support and guidance through high school, to the administration for providing us with a great learning environment and to my classmates sitting in front of me. All of you made our high school experience. We are, without a doubt, the greatest and best-looking class to pass through this school since Mr. Samuels walked through the halls 14 years ago. And, most importantly, we owe thanks to the people sitting in the stands to my left and right- our families. This day is as much of a day for all of you as it is for us; you provided the foundation for us to grow into who we are, and gave us the never-ending love that we needed as we went through high school. So, thank you all.
Today is a beginning: the beginning of our grown-up lives, the beginning of opportunity, the beginning of a new world. I feel that for all of us, this beginning can present itself as a bit overwhelming, a bit intimidating. However, I feel that we can fully handle this new beginning and make the most of it by keeping ourselves aligned with who we are, who we’ve been molded into by the experiences we have had so far in our lives. By doing so, we can live happy, fulfilled lives.
You know, life itself is a tricky word. Life means every action we take, every thought we think, and every motion we make. If you think about it, life is the only word with a definition that fits every single object. This right now is life. The trees that surround us are life. The traffic after this ceremony, well, some might say that sums up life. However, when we speak of life and living a full life, I believe it is important to live life in two ways: life with a heart and life with a soul.
Living life with a heart is to be reasonable, always giving people a second chance, and always giving them the benefit of the doubt. Lend a helping hand to someone who needs it. When you see someone walking down the street with his head hung low, say a simple hello and it could change his entire day. All of you have already exemplified life with a heart through your endless devotion to community service and helping your friends when they need you most.
I remember as a little kid, going to the supermarket with my mom. And of course, one of the last places a little boy wants to be is stuck shopping for a couple hours. However, I don’t really remember dreading having to go to the supermarket. What I do remember, though, is that every time I passed the bakery section of the supermarket, one of the bakers would come out and offer me a big cookie. Those cookies made every trip to the supermarket worthwhile; the generosity of the baker changed my entire mood and turned a potentially boring day into a great day. This is life with a heart.
And life with a soul. Whatever you choose to do, be passionate about it and pursue it to the utmost of your abilities, but always remember to keep a strong balance between work and life itself. You may become extremely wealthy one day, and that’s a good thing. However, if you don’t have any time to enjoy it, to spend time with your family, or perhaps you’re not home to tuck in your little girl at night, your wealth doesn’t come of much use. Love those who love you and make sure to express it well.
I’ll tell you a good story about life with a soul. This past winter, I was in the parking lot of Shoprite on Valentine’s Day and in the car in front of me was an older woman, perhaps in her 80s. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an older man sneak up behind the car, and he snuck up to the passenger side door where the woman was sitting. He opened up the door, much to her surprise, and with a smile handed her a huge bouquet of flowers and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” This is life with a soul.
When you combine life with a heart and life with a soul, I think a successful life is unavoidable. And so, to my classmates, as you move on, live life with a heart, live life with a soul and on top of that always remember one thing: live the life you love and love the life you live.