It’s been a long road getting from there to here. That road has been much like a roller coaster. Have you ever ridden a roller coaster? Yeah, many of us have. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Upside-down. Down. That’s what our lives have been like: So many ups and downs. Sometimes we felt like throwing up. Sometimes we did. What a ride it’s been.

That ride wouldn’t have been what it was if not for several factors. First, I would like to give credit to God. Of course you know the classic line, "God created us. If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be here anyway. He deserves credit." That line is true. What is also true, though, is that if He hadn’t worked in my life, I wouldn’t be standing before you today. I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this ride with you. I wouldn’t have been to enjoy my life so far except for an extremely brief time after I was born. I’m sure if He hadn’t worked in your life than many of you wouldn’t be able to sit there and listen to a boring speech by whoever would have been in my place. So yes, I thank God.

Second, I would like to thank my parents and some key people in my life. My parents brought me up to be who I am today. They believed in me. I thank my grandparents and specifically my grandpa for demonstrating what an honorable man is. I thank my first grade teacher, Mrs. Mary Johnson. She influenced me more than she realizes, and I changed a lot in her class. I thank Mr. Wooten. He always pretended that he didn’t care about us, but I learned quickly that he did care about us and our success. I thank all the people important in my life. I also thank the key people in the lives of every student sitting here. I may not know those people personally, but since they are important to this group of young men and women, they are important to me. So thank you.

Third comes to the teachers and faculty. I have been impressed by our school district’s faculty countless times these past 13 years. That our teachers have truly cared about us is obvious, else we wouldn’t have assembled here today in this grand ceremony. Each one seems to have had a personal rule that he or she was never going to give you up, never going to let you down and never going to run around and desert you. So they earned recognition.

Last, but definitely not least, credit for such an amazing ride goes to the Class of 2012 itself. We have been together for so long and share countless fun memories: Hobbling in the three-legged race in primary school, racing go-karts at Gator Golf, seeing piles of dirt at Toltec Mounds, chilling in Dallas, listening to music on the band bus and rock climbing at space camp. All these wouldn’t have been the same with a different class. So thank you for making this ride fun for me and everyone else in our class.

This roller coaster we have been riding has been amazing, but it is coming to an end. As we disembark and try to find the next roller coaster life has to offer, I hope we will all remember this as one of the best rides of our lives. Thank you.