2016 Valedictorian and Salutatorian Speeches

Posted: July 15, 2016

Salutatorian Riley North and Co-Valedictorians Even Dennis and Hugh Flynn

Riley.Evan.Hugh

Co-Valedictorian Even Dennis: 

Graduation

            Open to a new sheet of paper. Write the name of the talk, Graduation, and the name of the speaker, Evan.

Four years ago, I would have never imagined that Brother Rice would come to mean as much to me as it does today. Believe it or not, I didn’t really like Brother Rice when I first started school as a freshman. Everything was so new and challenging. I remember during the first week of freshman year, Mr. Hoch gave us the first of many pop quizzes. In middle school, pop quizzes were mythical assessments that only existed in the Fairly Odd Parents or Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.  Needless to say, I was not at all prepared for this quiz and got a fifty on it. That day I was positive I had failed Biology for the semester. There was no way in the world I could come back from a four point deficit. At the time, I wondered how I was going to make it through four more years with pop quizzes lurking around every corner. All I wanted to do was get high school over with as soon as possible.

It’s funny looking back on how naïve I was as freshman. Thankfully, I adjusted.  Through the amazing experiences I had and the brothers I shared them with, I grew to love Brother Rice as a home. Adjustment is difficult and it’s uncomfortable. That’s what makes moving on to the next chapter in our lives a little bit scary. Obviously, I am excited about going to college, and I feel prepared, or at least I think I’m prepared. However, the thought of having to adjust to a new environment once again is daunting to say the least. I’m comfortable at Brother Rice. The faces are familiar. I have a basic routine that I follow. A pop quiz is no big deal. But this didn’t happen overnight. It took four years, and a dynamic cast of characters to get from being an anxious little freshman to a friendly and confident senior.

This transformation developed primarily in the classroom. I can’t express how thankful I am for all the teachers that make Rice what it is. They strive to interact with students on a personal level as evident in “bro time” with Mr. DeMarco or lack thereof whenever he takes on the guise of Magister Falsus. We can count on our teachers being friendly. Whether Mr. Venos is talking about his favorite band, Creed, or exploring Catholic social teaching, he is always engaging with the class and broadening our perspective. Most importantly, our teachers want to see us succeed and are dedicated to preparing us for the challenges to come. I tell myself that’s why we had to endure countless quote quizzes in Kase and why we spent hours composing Filo notes. Spend five minutes in Mr. Barnes’ classroom and you will see that he is a man who is passionate about what he teaches and who challenges us because he knows it will benefit us in the long run. Our teachers instill in us a work ethic that sets graduates of Brother Rice apart from other students.

This is all part of the tradition of excellence that Brother Rice is known for. Of all the pillars of Rice, I believe excellence is the most difficult to achieve. You can choose to be respectful and you can choose to live with integrity and these are both part of your character, but you can’t just decide that you are going to be excellent. Excellence is earned through hard work and is made evident through what you have accomplished. I like to think our class of 2016 exemplifies excellence quite well. Earlier this year the Chieftain published an article describing how we are one of the most intelligent classes statistically to go through Brother Rice.  We have also proven our athletic excellence as seen in the numerous state championships Brother Rice has won during our time here whether they are in swimming, hockey, or football. I have been fortunate to be a part of three lacrosse state championships my freshman, sophomore, and junior years, and the team is working hard in hopes of a fourth right now. I love my brothers on the lacrosse team and I would like to recognize all of my senior teammates: Ross Reason, Luke Cappetto, Jack O’Hara, Brian Cosgrove, James Scane, Ryan Scott, CJ Nelson, Matthew Busuito, Cole Hyde, Ryan Klein, Morgan Macko, Riley North, and of course, my fellow face off guy, Chris Karam. Words cannot describe how much I love you guys. It’s been real playing with you all these years and I’ll never forget the long bus rides, summer tournaments and the countless hours of practice and 2SP we spent together. I also need to mention the Marian Rice Players, a community in which I found a home and a family that allowed me to feel a sense of belonging at Brother Rice.

As we graduate, it is important to express our gratitude to those who have assisted us on this journey. We need to thank our leaders, Brother Segvich, Mr. Birney, and Mr. Grosso, as well as the entire administration, for all the work they put into making each year run smoothly. We also need to thank the faculty, staff, and councilors for providing us with a world class Christian Brother’s education and doing everything within their power to ensure that we reach our full potential. To the members of the faculty and staff who are departing from the Brother Rice community, I bid you farewell and wish you good luck, as you embark on the next chapter in your lives, much like the class of 2016. We need to thank the extensive network of alumni for all of their generosity. There is a tremendous amount of comfort in knowing that they have our best interest in mind and a tremendous amount or responsibility felt in knowing that they expect greatness from each and every one of us.

Most importantly, we need to thank our families and parents for making the sacrifices that allow us to attend a school like Brother Rice and for all of the bagged lunches, ironed shirts, and loving support they have provided over the years. There is one person I need to thank specifically because he is the reason I am up here giving this speech today and that’s my brother. Alex, you have always been my role model and you taught me the meaning of hard work. I love you to death even though you tore this speech apart yesterday.

Lastly, I would like to thank all my class mates for the laughs, memories, and good times we shared at this amazing school. A majority of our class was lucky enough to go on Kairos. No matter what your experience is on Kairos, you learn a lot about God and lot about leading a life beyond the classroom. While our educators prepare us academically for college, it is things like Kairos, the Band of Brothers, and the other unique aspects of Brother Rice that teach us to be men of respect, men of integrity, men of character, men of excellence, and men of God. That is the true value of a Brother Rice education.

There’s great pride that comes with being a Warrior. Half of my wardrobe consists of the Rice shirts, shorts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, socks, hats, pullovers, jackets, and coats I have accumulated over the years. I wear these clothes proudly to let people know that I am part of a brotherhood that holds its members to a certain set standards and values. We are Warriors, and I trust we will all carry that pride with us for the rest of our lives. There will be times when we are challenged in the future and there will be times when we will be forced to make tough choices and decisions. No matter what adversity, hardship, or difficulty we may face, we owe it to each other and to ourselves to always pick C: remember the pillars of Rice.

Co-Valedictorian Hugh Flynn

It would not be possible for any of the members of our class to be sitting here without the incredible people who have helped us along the way. These people deserve a big thank you for all their hard work, care, and endless support for us. First, I want to thank my parents and family for always being there for me and always believing in me. Next I’d like to thank the counseling department for helping us tackle every obstacle we faced from freshman class scheduling to college applications. To all the teachers who have spent the past four years with us, I thank you very much for your hard work and dedication to our learning. You have taught us so many important lessons, like Mr. Rademacher teaching us how to gamble, Coach “I don’t round up” Rayles showing he indeed does not round up, or Mr. Demarco demonstrating the true meaning of busy work. We have been blessed with a truly gifted group of teachers whose lessons extend past the classroom and will guide us throughout life. Lastly, I would like to say to all those faculty and staff that are leaving the school with our class that it is an immense honor to be finishing our time as Warriors alongside you. You were such an integral part of Brother Rice for so long, and you will be greatly missed by all the students both now and in the future. Also, shoutout to Adam Berg because he asked me a million times for one.

Now that all my thank you’s are finished, I can begin my address to the class of 2016. For those of you who are tired and ready to leave, don’t worry because my speech will be about as long as my football career at Brother Rice. And for those of you who don’t understand that joke, I have a story that will enlighten you.

I will always remember my first days as a true Brother Rice Warrior. It was the beginning of the freshman football season, and the coaches were handing out gear to the players. All five feet five inches and 120 pounds of freshman me were terrified yet excited about what my future held. I stood there, mesmerized by the fancy equipment and the spotless orange helmets being distributed. Players in front of me were walking away with state of the art, brand new gear, and finally it was my turn. Coach Hart took one look at me and turned back to a different rack of helmets. I could hear him say, “Oh this one should fit great” as he reached into a deep hole that looked like it hadn’t seen the light of day since Denny King enrolled at Rice. He pulled a helmet out, but something was different. He was holding this one in a weird way that he didn’t do with the others. He dropped the helmet down in my hands, and all my hopes and dreams of having a superstar football career dropped with it. My helmet looked like it had been through decades of use, with dents and scratches everywhere. It was not the shiny orange I had hoped for. The helmet was faded, and oh it had a huge bar going down the middle of my facemask, directly between the eyes. The only other person I had ever seen wear a helmet like this was Rudy. As I trotted out to the field with a helmet full of broken dreams, I was terrified at what the other players would say. But then I caught a stroke of optimism, thinking that coach ran out of new helmets and everyone behind me in line would get one like mine. However, when the whole team was outside, I only counted one kid with a big fat bar between his eyes, me. I still don’t know why I was the lucky winner. It took maybe thirty seconds for someone to call me Rudy, and I clearly remember Brandon White seeing me and saying, “Hey Hughie that’s a pretty sweet helmet you got there.” That might’ve been the first time we ever talked. As if this wasn’t enough to destroy a little freshman’s confidence, my friend Ryan Klein graciously reminded the coaches that in grade school I was the holder for the field goal team. So now I was the kid with the middle bar helmet whose only starting position was as the kick holder. That’s when I decided I better do well in school because sports were obviously not going to be my thing.

So as most of you might’ve guessed, my football career abruptly ended after one short season.

I didn’t just tell that story to relive the nightmare, there is a point. My speech is supposed to be focused on what we do going forward in life. I am confident that each and every one of us will be able to build on our already successful achievements in high school and implement the lessons we have learned during our time here. Brother Rice has prepared us to take life head on and persevere through any type of adversity thrown our way. Because sometimes life throws a fat, ugly bar right between your eyes. You may even have to consciously look straight forward at all times in order to keep from going cross eyed. But whenever this may happen, we will be ready for it. We don’t need to worry about getting questioned by an employer during an interview, because we have already been grilled by Mr. Filo during oral quiz. If we ever have to deal with rejection, we’ve already been dealt it from Mr. Bumpus with his first day of school line, “We can be friendly, but we are not friends.” And if for some wild reason we have to participate in some kind of iPad game challenge, I am confident the entire senior class would fare very well.

Some of the most gifted people I know are sitting here today. They are my fellow classmates and I wholeheartedly believe that every single one of them will leave a legacy wherever they go. When we walk through those doors, we officially become alumni of Brother Rice. With this comes countless opportunities to change the world, and the constant phone calls asking for donations to our alma mater, but mostly opportunities to succeed. I have used this quote once already but I decided to change it a bit. I’d like to paraphrase Dennis Reynolds from the television show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. “Peaked, Dee? Let me tell you something, we haven’t even begun to peak… and when we do peak, you’ll know. Because we’re gonna peak so hard everyone in Oakland County will feel it.” Not one of us has quite peaked yet. Keep your eyes and ears open because these guys will be doing incredible things in the near future and all of you are going to want to hear about it. I can not express how thankful I am to be a part of this class, and I can’t wait to see what we are capable of. Thank you.

Salutatorian Riley North

 I want to start off by thanking all the faculty, parents, administrators, mentors, coaches, and everyone else who helped us get us to where we are tonight.  You know, it took me a long time to write this. I was struggling with what to say, and what to start out with. I stared at my screen trying to find the right words to put down, trying to find a way to put all the thoughts I had down on paper. That’s when I realized something. There is absolutely no way for anyone to put the sum of their high school experience into one speech. It’s just not possible. How can I even attempt to describe what my experience has been at Rice these past four years? All the ups and downs, all the curveballs life throws at you, the losses, the wins, there’s just no way. High school is too hectic, too awful, too amazing to even try and describe. I mean, you could try, maybe describe the teachers. You could talk about how in our time we’ve had iconic teachers like Mr. Hoch, Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Stark retire. Hah, I’ll never forget third quarter freshman year when Mr. Hoch called me out in class for sleeping or something, but he forgot my name so he called me Mr. Norton instead, so from then on in that class I was Norton instead of North.  Or you could talk about the teachers that impacted you most, whether it was Mrs. Katz, Mr. Barnes, any of them. You could also talk about how our graduation is the end of an era for the school. New staff, new policies, things are going to be different when we’re gone. I-pads, short Wednesdays, compare our freshman year to our senior one, they’re pretty different already. But, when you think about it, these changes, they didn’t really change Rice. They changed how we did some things sure, how long we were in school, ok, the type of chocolate chip cookies at lunch, fine, but they didn’t change the heart of what makes Brother Rice what it is. I’ve thought a lot about that, about what’s different about our school. What makes Brother Rice so unique? It’s so much more than the school grounds and the faculty. It’s that sense that when you join the community at Rice you’re joining something bigger than you. It’s a family, extending 50 plus years and thousands of people. The Band of Brothers, it sounded pretty cheesy to me when I first heard it. I didn’t realize that it stood for so much more than the 6 bands and all the mentor groups. I didn’t realize that the Band of Brothers reached to the heart of every single person that went to Rice, connecting us all together. I didn’t realize that coming to Rice would let me become part of this amazing group of people before me. I didn’t realize that my experiences at Rice would change me this profoundly. I don’t think there’s a person in this room that can say they’re the same as they were freshman year. I mean, he may not look any different but even Maher’s changed since 9th grade. It’s all about perspective. I mean, freshman year I remember being so worried about that pass or fail grade in gym, or whether or not Bro Mac saw me dozing off in the back of Latin class. Man how times have changed. Now most are off to college, and then on to the rest of our lives. But, we’re not unprepared. Rice has taught us a lot, and not just equations and vocab words, no Rice has taught us how to be men. How to stand up for what you believe in, and how to be both successful in life and be a good person. It’s weird that it’s basically over. In a few months we’ll be all over the country, different colleges, different states, different everything. That’s a scary thought, change. But it’s not a bad thing. We need change, and as they say, all good things must come to an end. Our time here at Rice is over, yes. But that’s not the end of being a Warrior. We’ll carry what we learned these past years with us for the rest of our lives. That’s part of what makes Rice so different. The legacy, the brotherhood, there’s no other place like it.

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Where else can a graduate of one of the first graduating classes become the most legendary substitute in the school? Where else can you find a bench press competition for some of the smallest students on field day? I mean, where else can Rads teach you about why craps is statistically the best game to play at the casino? Rice is a special place, and I for one count myself lucky to have attended here. Even though times could get tough, and there isn’t a person in this room who can say high school was easy for them, we could always count on each other.  Because Brother Rice was a hard place, in all respects. Whether it was academically, athletically, socially, Brother Rice wasn’t easy. But that’s part of what binds us, that we all went through this place and came out on top, together. Whether you’re the person who always had a ton of friends, or the one who never really felt like they belonged, you’re the same now. You both made it, you made it to right here, right now. But, you didn’t do it alone. To some that may be obvious, but not to everyone. Because even though you may have thought you were completely alone, or totally isolated from all the friends surrounding you, you weren’t then, and you aren’t now. Throughout all the worst and all the best moments we had our brothers there with us, though it may not have been obvious at the time. But they were there, to support us, to help us, to grieve with us, to laugh with us. And that doesn’t end with our graduation. For the rest of our lives we’ll have the bonds we formed here at Rice to hold on to. Whether it was through classes, sports, clubs, Kairos, anything, the bonds we made here can’t be broken by distance or time. No, they’ll last for as long as we need them to. The future is bright, yes, but it’s not going to be easy. We’re going to face challenges and trials and sometimes we’re going to want to give up. But we won’t. Because we’ll know that our brothers are there for us, pushing us to go on, always ready to help when needed. We have each other now, and we’ll always be there for each other in the future. My friends I can truly say it’s been an honor to walk those halls beside you these last four years. I’m going to miss all the dodge ball, all the service trips, all the football games. These last few years have been memorable to say the least, and I feel honored to be able to call myself a warrior. Thank you