The Beginning of Something Great

Please enjoy the HTEA Class of 2014 Salutatorian Speech:

Isaac FurtneyGood morning teachers, administrators, families, and fellow graduates.  First off, I want to thank all of those who have helped us reach this day.  The parents who kept us in line and pushed us to achieve.  The teachers and faculty members who taught both the material and life skills.  Siblings who supported us.  The college counselors and Mrs. Mosby for helping us navigate through the college admissions process.  Mr. Mancini for his guidance and service to this class.  And I thank God for all of the opportunities we have been granted here at Holy Trinity.  I know that these have not been the easiest years for all of you.  As this graduation date approached, many of you here have thought about what will happen after graduation.  The changes that will come.  The new places you will live.  Where you will go to college.  What sorority or fraternity you might join.  What you will major in.  Or, for some of you in the audience, how you can turn that extra bedroom into a new home gym.  But, today we are taking a moment away from planning the times of tomorrow.  Today we are remembering the past 18 years and the changes that we have gone through to get to where we are now; the days of our past.

Over the years, we have gone through many different experiences, and we often get too caught up with life to ponder those experience. So I’ve decided to walk you through those years so that the members of my class can reminisce and the rest of you can get some insight into what our lives have been like living in two different millennia, a technological revolution, and what many thought was the end of the world.

For many of us, the late 90s may have been some of our favorite years.  Our biggest worries involved what time Blue’s Clues came on tv and how we could possibly avoid taking a nap.  We spent our time battling with Pokemon cards and singing Back Street Boys with our hitclips, I brought mine today in case anyone wants to listen to some tunes later.  However, even in these young days our class started coming together.  Several students in our class have really known each other practically since birth.  And I’m not just talking about the sets of twins like Josh and Joey Rain, but I know Charlie and Rachel have been friends forever and I even brought the baby picture to prove it.  Our class has far more “lifers” than most classes.  This proves that we really are a family here at Holy Trinity.

We quickly grew out of having half days at school and snack times to the workhorse days of our childhood.  Yes you guessed it.  Elementary school.  I joined this class just before these days.  So I was able to experience the serious rigors of the Lower School.  Whether it be learning to write cursive or surviving the threats along the Oregon Trail, our class maintained its unity and grew closer together.  We worked together to overcome challenges, even if those were just trying to do “the wave” correctly during Mrs. Tickle’s class.  Our grade stuck together when faced with changes.  When our beloved principal Mrs. Ketterer retired and new management transitioned in, the students supported him and served as leaders for the younger students.  When new students came in, they were quickly welcomed into the student body; even when they may have had a foreign accent, I mean we all thought Katherine Hess was British in Fourth grade.  Our class has always maintained a welcoming attitude towards new comers and has never been known for its exclusivity.

As our time together increased, we eventually had to make the jump from being the big fish in our small pond and move up to the Upper school.  I know many of you may want me to skip Junior High and its uncomfortable days of cracking voices and clumsiness, but I’m not going to.  It’s hard for me to summarize Junior High because we all had very different views of those days.  For some of us, it was fantastic to finally have grown taller than the girls in our grade like McKenzie and Chelsea, who are surprisingly tall.  Or to have our own lockers that most of us never even locked and the freedom to walk around campus without having to stay in a perfectly straight line.  Or even to have pillow fights with so many friends at Pathfinder.  But for many of us, they were the days we never wish to remember.  Whether it includes the stress over having your first final exam or the embarrassment over constantly falling down while strutting around the lunch room, the halls, and even the bus to pathfinder.  I think most of you know I must be talking about Aliyah.  Many students in our class endured occasions like these.  Yet the spirit of our class was never dampened by these Junior High moments.  The students of our class dealt with growing up like any other challenge that had been set before them.  With a laugh, support for each other, and as teachers and families already know, quite a bit of complaining.

As students of Holy Trinity, we experienced less change moving from Junior High to high school because we literally just moved across a courtyard.  But, high school had its own difficulties.  Many of us finally faced our first true academic challenges as we learned to study for hours for Biology.  Or had to work to strive for varsity sports despite being way smaller than the rest of the team.  And dealing with the frustration of still never understanding how Mr. Herntier’s magic tricks work.  Even some of our parents had some new challenges, like teaching their student how to drive.  Well, I guess we can’t always succeed.  But still, we shared many great experiences.  We lost our voices yelling at volleyball games.  At AP tests we toasted our Five-hour energy drinks together during breaks in triumph.  In between classes, our spirits were raised by the advice of Mr. Gibson who always knows what trials we are facing and the constant smiles from Mrs. Sharpe.  Also, I’ve had the chance to observe the amazing accomplishments of our class.  I mean I don’t know if any of you had been bitten by a radioactive spider or had a superhero suit underneath that uniform, Brent, but I’m not totally convinced that you hadn’t.  We have the well-known horse whisperer Kailey Fisher, who could ride any horse, saddle or not.  On the other hand, I’ve definitely seen Joon whisper to his cello.  I’m pretty sure Jace could dunk on a 12’ hoop while wearing a blindfold.  And, Charles always looks like he came straight out of a GQ magazine with his trendy fashion sense.  Beyond all of these accomplishments, you all have worked hard to push through any signs of senioritis and make it here today.

And now, as our experiences together come to a close and we leave Holy Trinity to move on into the world, I want you to remember these years for what they were.  The struggles, the laughs, the achievements, the joys, and the changes that have made us who we are.  These past years and the next few will be some of our favorite past times.  But, as Mrs. Euziere has always said, the next four years shouldn’t be the best years of our lives because we have so much more to look forward to.  Let them be the beginning of something great.  We as a class have stood by each other and supported each other.  And I hope you will continue to do so in the future.  Everyone in this class should realize that they can adapt to any circumstance in life and that they can overcome any challenge set before them.  Because the students of this class, all of you, have shown me that you have the strength and the determination to do so.  I thanked the audience and our supporters earlier, but most of all I want to thank you my fellow class mates.  The ones who I have befriended over the years.  The ones I have watched overcome roadblocks and blow away peers.  The ones I have seen reach out to those in need and always lend a helping hand.  The students who broke school sports records, who can draw as good as any camera can take a picture, who can find their niche and excel beyond what they may have ever dreamed of.  I will miss all of you for your unique character and personalities.  I was supposed to give a salutatory address, but salutations are used when you first meet someone.  I can’t do that for those of you I’ve known for over a decade. Or even those I’ve known for only a year. And I leave you with two verses, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”  You all have inspired me to be the best I can be and I look forward to seeing what success God has in store for all of you. Thank you.

–Isaac Furtney ’14
Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

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