Jimenez, Sanchez Named Graduation Speakers

After eight seniors tried out to speak at the 2024 graduation ceremony, two students were named commencement speakers on May 13
At senior Awards Night, seniors Sarahy Jimenez and Emily Sanchez were announced as the 2024 commencement speakers.
At senior Awards Night, seniors Sarahy Jimenez and Emily Sanchez were announced as the 2024 commencement speakers.
Matt Jones

On Senior Awards Night, senior Emily Sanchez sits on the stage of McHale with her best friends. Gripping seniors Kylee Langley and Jasmine Zimmerman’s hands, she listens closely to principal Matt Jones as he announces the two 2024 commencement speakers. 

“When I heard my name, it just felt unreal,” Sanchez said. “The world kind of stopped. I was holding Kylee and Jasmine’s hands, and I was thinking it was going to be one of us. I just didn’t think it was going to be me. When I heard my name, it felt so unreal. I tried out thinking I wasn’t going to get it, so I didn’t really mentally prepare for that moment. It was just a lot of excitement. My adrenaline was up, and it was just a good night.”

When the news came out it was time to audition for commencement speakers, Sanchez jumped on the idea.

“Being a part of the speech team was a big motivation for me,” Sanchez said. “I love speaking in front of people, but at the same time, I get nervous. My friends were doing it, and I just thought it would be nice if we all tried out together. I love communicating with people like that, and I just wanted to talk about a story that meant so much to me. I wanted people to hear that story.”

My heart was beating so fast, and I let out a relieving breath after my name was announced.

— Sarahy Jimenez

After going back and forth on ideas, Sanchez finally got a spark of inspiration.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Sanchez said. “At first, I just knew that I wanted to tell my story, but I didn’t know how. I met with Mrs. Kranz, and we just bounced ideas off of each other. Then, she said the word ‘spark,’ and from there, I just went off of that word.”

Announced as the second speaker on senior night, senior Sarahy Jimenez felt honored.

“It felt really awesome,” Jimenez said. “I was honestly so surprised when Mr. Jones announced my name. I was just thinking how great it was to just even be blessed to audition with all the awesome speeches that were written by my talented peers.”

For days, Jimenez couldn’t stop thinking about who was going to be announced as the two speakers. 

“I was restless those few days leading up to that night,” Jimenez said. “I remember not being able to sleep the night before. I also remember the moment Mr. Jones was going to announce the two speakers. My heart was beating so fast, and I let out a relieving breath after my name was announced.”

For years Jimenez knew she wanted to try to give a speech at graduation.

“When my uncle graduated in 2019, my mom said she wanted to see me give a speech during the ceremony,” Jimenez said. “I didn’t take it seriously, but when my brother graduated two years ago, she promised me a huge gift. So, I obviously auditioned, but I wasn’t expecting to be one of the speakers in all seriousness.”

Each speech given was unique to the individual and was inspired by a multitude of different things. 

“I didn’t want it to be all about me,” Sanchez said. “I wanted it to be about the whole student body and just about finding your spark in high school. Even if you don’t find your spark in high school, you will eventually throughout your life. Even if you’re 30, you will find your spark. That’s what my speech is about.”

Hearing my name, there was a rush of emotions, and as I looked into the crowd, all I remember is seeing my mom cheering me on with the biggest smile.

— Emily Sanchez

Trying to find some sort of inspiration was one of the hardest parts for Jimenez.

“Since the beginning of the year, I had been trying to look for inspiration,” Jimenez said. “I got to writing, but I scrapped every draft. It wasn’t until the end of April when I wanted a TikTok about pomegranates. Mind you, pomegranates are my favorite fruit. I knew that I wanted to write something inspiring but also have a hidden theme in my speech. I wrote the speech a week before it was due, and honestly it wouldn’t have been a Sarahy speech if I didn’t procrastinate it either.”

As graduation approaches, Sanchez is excited to share her speech with others.

“Hearing my name, there was a rush of emotions, and as I looked into the crowd, all I remember is seeing my mom cheering me on with the biggest smile,” Sanchez said. “That was when I knew I made her proud and will continue to. I’m excited for my journey, and I hope I touch many hearts with my speech at graduation.”

Read the speeches of the other students who auditioned for commencement speaker below. Sanchez and Jimenez’s speeches will be added after the 153rd Commencement Ceremony on June 2.

Jake Fincher
Jake Fincher

As I look out into the crowd today, I see hours upon hours of hard work and dedication. I see late nights, early mornings, tough assignments, and long practices. Every one of us has seen challenges, and every one of us has persevered through them to earn the opportunity to sit in these seats today. Everyone here today has accomplished a major success in life, earning the right to walk across the stage and graduate from high school.

Many people see success and attribute it to two things: luck and talent. However, many people do not see those late nights and early mornings I aforementioned. To many of us, hard work is the pinnacle of our success. Hard work lets ordinary people like myself accomplish extraordinary things.

I am not the most athletic person in this room, and I am far from the most talented. I was not given seven school records, a conference record, and a sectional record, and in many ways, none of that should’ve been possible. But, I spent nine long months working hard, waking up at 6 a.m., 5 a.m., and sometimes 4 a.m. Working out in the early morning, then driving to Lafayette for club practice.

No one saw the hours I took out of my summer, the hours I spent driving, and the hours I spent in and out of the pool working on accomplishing my goals. Many days, it was hard to get out of bed. I did not want to get up to work and swim, but I did it anyway. I did not want to drive to Lafayette six days a week from late May to early November, but I did it anyway. I did not want to watch what I ate and drank, and I did not want to do the necessary recovery outside of practice. But, I did it anyway.

Nothing in my athletic career has been given to me through luck and talent, so I made up for it. I worked hard day in and day out. 

Success is also not something you can not compare with others. My brother and sister had very successful high school careers. They were both Distinguished Scholars. They both held lead roles in plays. Both of them were Lilly finalists, and both of them showed their popularity when it came time for Homecoming, where they were both top five. Yet, neither one of them set a school record like I did. Neither one of them made it to state, and neither one of them won prom king/queen.

It is easy for me to compare myself to them and think that my successes mean less because they accomplished many things that I did not. I’m sure to many of you it is easy to compare yourself to others as well, to see your successes as less because of what others have done. But, no one else has lived your life. No one has seen the struggles you have seen, and no one has accomplished what you have accomplished while facing your own unique challenges. To me, that is a success, so who cares what someone else has done?

To end this off, I want to mention a quote from Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi, “The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.”

Congratulations Class of 2024. Everyone here is capable of greatness, and I am eager to hear the fascinating stories you have attained after you have paid the price of hard work. Thank you.

Juan Jose-Miguel
Juan Jose-Miguel

February 25, 4:26 p.m., I am on a plane, writing my speech as I’m flying over the Gulf of Mexico. As all these memories come rewinding in my mind as I remember my very first day of kindergarten, a young boy who did not understand one bit of English, remembering those moments when my class would play heads up seven up on rainy days just for the heck of it. As a kid, I would always think that senior year was many, many years away. Eventually, time got closer, and those many years turned into a few months to a few days to a few  hours, and here we are Class of 2o24. We did it. Some of us might be feeling a little emotional because I know I am. Crazy how just four years ago we were freshmen, not knowing that pretty soon we will be attending our last football game and our last school dance. The last time we will be walking the halls to get to class for it to become one more core memory to remember. All of us walking this stage today have someone who helped us a long way to us where we are now, and for me that someone was my mother.

My mother is a strong, wonderful lady who I’ve seen do it all. At a young age, my mother left her country, Guatemala, as she spent weeks walking the desert to find what everyone calls “The American Dream,” “El Sueno Americano,” having to leave her parents behind not knowing if it was goodbye or see you later. She would go work in the fields from sunrise to sunset in order to give here siblings and I food on the table and for her family back home. She was someone to admire as she taught me to work hard with your head held up high and to keep going no matter how difficult it gets.

Entonces mama donde se que estás ahorita escuchando muchas gracias pro todo y espero powder darte todo el mundo como tu lo has hecho a nostros. Sé queue nunca fue fácil y queue los moments bonitos llegarán prosperando en toda tu vida.

Today is a day filled with joy and happiness as we witness many students fulfilling one more accomplishment. Thank you for being here and supporting the Class of 2024. To my fellow Guatemalans who may not speak or understand Spanish or English.

To the Class of 2024, wherever you all go and whatever you all decide to be, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of dreams.” So, be the leader to your own dreams, accomplish your goals, and keep going till you make it. Don’t let anyone or anything get in your way, and explore way beyond your thoughts. In just a few moments, we will finally accomplish one more chapter from our book, and it’s time for you to continue writing the pages. Thank you.

Kylee Langley
Kylee Langley

Hello, faculty, parents, friends, and distinguished guests, and hello Class of 2024.

During these past four years, I have earned the title and honor of being called a “writer.” I have excelled and made it clear that I have a way with my words. But, if this statement is true, then why have I continuously stared at this speech like it was going to write itself?

The words aren’t appearing like I thought they would. Writing has been easy for me but this . . . this is nowhere near easy. The words aren’t flowing like they should. No research paper, Magpie article, or Instagram caption could have ever prepared me for this moment. Because what do you say at a time like this?

No really, think about it. This moment right here, there will never be a moment like this again. The LHS Class of 2024 will never all be together at one given time ever again. This moment can never be replicated. So, while you’re all fidgeting in your chairs ready to grab your diploma and leave, take a second. Take this moment in. It only happens once.

Since the start of the year, my friends and I have measured the time we have left. Day to day, we measure how many class periods we have left until we can race to our cars. Week to week, we measured our time by quarters. First nine weeks, all the way to our final nine. As months went by, we measured our time by our lasts. We experienced our last first day, our last homecoming, our last bus evacuation. We experienced our last Terrific Tuesday, as Mr. Matt Jones would say.

But today, I will measure my time in a much different way. I will measure my time by all of the classmates I have met, all of the teachers who have guided me and helped me achieve all my aspirations, and all the parents who have so graciously given me my best friends.

So yes, as much as I have loved counting down the days until I can walk across this stage, I will now measure my time here by all the memories I have created and shared with you all, one caption at a time.

But, really, how do we measure a life through stories: one story, one caption at a time? How can we possibly find the perfect words to create that perfect story? The one that we so desperately want to tell? And what happens when someone else tells our story?

Chances are some of you don’t even know who I am. You may not know me, and I may not know you. I may not know your exact story and how you got to be in the seat you are sitting in today. I’m not here to tell your story. In no way do I feel qualified to do that. So even though I don’t know everyone here today, I do know that you did do it. That’s something that we all have in common. One way or another, you got through everything in and outside of class to be here today. All the books we read, all the essays we wrote, all the sleepless nights cramming for a test the next day, you did all of that. Or, what about all the relationships we began, ended, or even mended. All of these experiences, good and bad, have all led us to where we are sitting today.

As I reflect on the Class of 2024, I can’t help but think of all the amazing achievements we have made. Sitting in the crowd are star athletes, incredible musicians, hard-working entrepreneurs, powerful leaders, and some academic weapons. This class came together and made something incredible and memorable. Your achievements, sacrifices, challenges, successes: they are chapters in your story, and though we can all share in your story, it is yours alone to tell, to write, and to celebrate.

As we all go our separate ways with different dreams and goals, chapters and captions, I hope we can all measure our last four years through the things we did and the people we met. This is the final update to my story as an LHS writer. It is time for the next chapter to begin. This chapter will only happen once. Savor it, Class of 2024, and congratulations.

Ivy Padilla
Ivy Padilla

Hello, hola, bonjour, and to my classmates, my deepest congratulations for the graduating class of 2024. There are times like today when I look back to March 13, 2020, when our 8th-grade year was cut short by a worldwide pandemic. Now, we flash forward four years, and we are seated here today, when before we were just spectators in this fabulous celebration. But, why mention what happened four years ago today? It’s because it’s important to reflect and grow from past actions and mistakes. Believe it or not, we have changed immensely in four years in what seems like four short minutes. Was it a bad thing though that we change? That we don’t wear the same styles as clothes, talk the same, look the same, as before? Absolutely not. We should never be afraid of change. Change is one of the most beautiful actions one can do in their life. But, to change, one must believe, believe in what can come from change, and in one’s self to improve the world. Looking at you all today, our growing and diverse community has changed in more ways than one. Our stories have been told through new words, speaking our truths, our minds embracing new personalities, and our souls finding comfort after ups and downs.

Gracias mamá y papá por hoy, todo es para ustedes. When I think of change, I look back to my parents, two souls coming to America for a change. For a change in how they lived and the lives they would bring to the world. One of those lives was me. I would have preferred to live in busy New York, but Logansport is a nice choice too. They built their lives from the ground from working countless hours, struggling through a language barrier, and discrimination to now being business owners, employers, and the people I am most proud of to be able to stand with them today. Los amo mucho, no saben cuanto me than inspirado para vivir mi vida a lo máximo. (I love you both so much. You don’t know how much you’ve inspired me to live my life to the maximum.)

However, they are not and will never be defined by their struggles, and neither will we. We shouldn’t look at life with our failures and weaknesses in mind. Not everything will go your way. Not everything is going to be a happy day with sunshine and rainbows. It will son the “best of times, the worst of times,” (Charles Dickens). That’s why hearing no today should be a yes to the motivation that will come tomorrow. Embrace that change that came knocking at your door, and if it’s your DoorDasher, tip them something. It won’t be easy. Nothing ever is.

this isn’t the end for the 2024 class. It’s only the beginning. Never be ashamed of who you are and what you’ve accomplished because being true to yourself never goes out of style. I never want to say goodbye to any of you. So, instead of goodbye, see you soon. Nos vemos otro dia, Na We Pita.

Felisitasyon, felicitaciones, and congratulations to you all. May your dreams always be big, and your worries small. The time is now to change the world.

John Spahr
John Spahr

Greetings, everyone. There is a good chance you’ve never seen me before, so an introduction is due.

My name is John Spahr, and I’m new here this year. I took the leap and switched to a new school because I wanted to expand my horizons. I was bored of life, and then I realized that my somewhat depressed Honda enabled me to commute from Peru to here. So, I weighed my options and started my final year of high school at Logansport.

My experience those first few weeks was nothing short of transformative. There were so many people here with drastically different backgrounds and interests than at my old school, and I found this exhilarating. I quickly realized that Logansport was so much bigger than what I was used to, and not just because of class size. I mean, we have a coffee shop. How cool is that? There were so many things to do here, and this was a big part of why I made the decision to switch last summer.

I won’t pretend that I’ve made a lot of friends this year, and this is no fault of the school. I’m just not outgoing like that. But it doesn’t matter as I found one great friend here. I just happened to sit with her at the beginning of the school year and we hit it off. Thanks to her, I found that, for once, I was enjoying high school. Had I not made the leap this year, I would have never met her.

Switching to Logansport also encouraged me to try new things, ranging from yearbook to SNL to photography to astronomy. I pursued interests I did not know I even had. It was worth it, too. Photography became one of my main hobbies, and I’ve learned so much about it through the Career Center. I found that I really enjoyed all my teachers and classes, and I didn’t dread school like I used to.

On that note, in English, we read a surprisingly excellent novel called “Looking for Alaska.” The author, John Green, kept mentioning a quote by a man named Francois Rabelais. He said, “I go to seek a great perhaps.” Those were supposedly his last words. Although, I do question if this was really the case. He died a long time ago, after all. However, it is quite poetic.

I guess going to Logansport was my “great perhaps.” It sounds corny, but I like to think that I’m a corny person. I did not realize how much I had left to experience, and I never could have guessed how much switching schools would change me.

As our chapter at Logansport concludes, it’s natural to be a little scared about what’s next. However, if switching schools my senior year has taught me anything, it’s that this strange new path ahead of us might just rock. For this reason, I hope that each and every one of you can find your “great perhaps.” It’s waiting there for you. You just have to take the leap.

Jasmine Zimmerman
Jasmine Zimmerman

Good afternoon, Class of 2024. Can I tell you a story?

In the middle of my sophomore year, Mrs. Kranz, who was only my 4-H club leader at the time, approached me at one of our monthly meetings. I hadn’t really heard much about her, what she taught here at school, or really what she was involved with other than 4-H. Looking back now, others probably would have avoided the interaction I had with her. The interaction was simple. She talked about 4-H projects that she thought I may be interested in.

Looking back, I believe she had this planned out all along. She showed me a public speaking project. I was taken aback, shocked even, that she thought I had it in me to perform a speech, much less succeed. She began talking to me about the speech team at the high school. She explained one of my friends, Eli Bault, was one of the students on the team. Long story short, I observed a speech meet that very weekend and was on the team the next week.

As of this year, I have gone to state three years in a row. I have received over 500 competitive speech points, and I have won around 30 ribbons. Poetry became my voice. I have performed over 50 different poems and won first place in the poetry category at speech sectionals this year.

Basically, I was roped into all of it in the beginning. Ask any of my coaches, I had no clue what I was doing, but through my poetry performances, which I was reciting every day and performing almost every weekend, many lessons were engraved in my head. I had to adapt and learn as I went. I struggled for a while, but found my grip and pushed through. But, isn’t life like that? Adapting, learning as we go, and pushing through?

This year, I performed a poem by Demetri Manabat titled “Flying Lessons.” It’s good. Tou should look it up. This poem details the ins and outs of struggling with depression, something I, as well as many of you, may be familiar with. The lesson of the poem is that getting up, brushing your teeth, taking your vitamins, and pushing through the day is really what counts.

I know you may not have been on the speech team, but you very well could have worked on the McHale tech team, played sports, performed on stage, learned to weld, or gained your CPR certificate. You may have been the student who showed up early to class every day, or maybe you were the student who didn’t show up til noon. You may have a shelf of faded certificates and dusty trophies or none at all. But, either way, you being here, today, in this moment, made an impact in itself.

And now, I’d like for Demetri’s words to speak for themselves:

“I know when you cannot see the light the dark
seems permanent
It seems normal
But soon you will learn
That You don’t need to leave the ground in order to fly
You just need to get out of bed every day
and brush your teeth
Go to school
Go to work, live your life
Take your vitamins.”

We made it Class of 2024. We pushed through all of our hardest days: the challenging days that the Berry Bean was closed, the days we were blessed to have bus evacuations, and all of the struggles of finding an open restroom. But, we also pushed through the long nights of studying, the fear of failing another test, and the honestly just life itself. We all made it to this very moment, together in this room. We should be proud of that.

I would like for all of us to take a moment and look at the person sitting next to you, whether that is a friend, a kid you haven’t seen since middle school, or someone you swear you literally have never seen before. No matter who it is, take a moment to tell them that you are proud of them.

Go on, tell them.

I am sure we all need to hear those words. Because in this thing called life, you’ll have roadblocks and stumbles, but you’ll also have those life-changing moments that remind you why you began in the first place.

Oh, and I never ended up signing up for a public speaking project in 4-H.

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