This past Saturday Ellie graduated from Vinalhaven High School as Valedictorian and gave one of the best speeches (in this mom's humble opinion ;) ) I have ever heard. She also insisted on sharing this special moment with Tess. Her Superlove. She also gave her Valedictorian Stole to Tess as the stole was to be given to the person in your life who has influenced and inspired you.
Below are some pictures of Ellie and Tess on stage during her speech, as well as the video and the transcript of it below that.
Ellie's Graduation Speech
As I stand before all of you today, I feel extremely grateful and blessed to be here. A lot of people don’t take the time out of their day to actually think about what they’re grateful for, and a lot of people also may not realize the one thing that, I think, we should be the most grateful for. I am so thankful to just have a normally functioning body and brain. I know it probably sounds like a really weird and random thing to be thankful for, but as I stand here today, I cannot help but look at my younger sister, Tess. I look at Tess and see the bravest, smartest, kindest little girl I have ever met. I also look at Tess and see a girl who, even though she has more stories to tell than half of us in here, will never be able to tell those stories. As I’m standing here, I remember two years ago when Blake was in the same spot as me and giving an amazing speech. Tess will never have the chance to do that like both of her sisters have. She will never be able to sit onstage in 2021 with her graduating class, and she will never have the chance to be Valedictorian or Salutatorian. So with that being said, I would like to do my speech with Tessie.
I know my parents are probably crying right now, but I didn’t bring Tessie up here to make everyone sad. I brought her up here because I would not be who I am today without her. She is so much a part of who I am that I want to celebrate my successes with her, not in front of her, and I want to give her a chance to celebrate her successes, too.
I don’t know how she does it, but Tess is able to smile even in the hardest, toughest times. She has taught me to always find the good in every situation, because why bother to be unhappy about something that you can’t change? She shows me everyday that I am in command of my own attitude. Think about the last time you stubbed your toe. Now think about your reaction to it. Did you hobble around for a minute? Did you keep on going but mutter something angrily under your breath? Trust me, I have been guilty of both of these reactions before, but just try to think about the positives in the situation. Hey, at least you have toes to stub. At least you have legs and feet that allow you to walk around at all. Maybe you can’t change what is happening, but you can choose what you do about it. You are the one who makes the choice to react the way you do. Tess has shown me that happiness and gratefulness are choices, and that what you get out of your life is in an exact relation to what you put into it.
Even on my worst days, I have to remember that there are so many people out there who have to work so hard every single day to do what I can do without even thinking about it. Tess has taught me that yes, times can get very hard, but you should never give up. Even if you make a mistake, or it looks like something might not work out, don’t give up on a dream, and if you feel like your dream is worth giving up on, that’s okay. Find a new dream.
Tess continues to show me how lucky I am to have all the opportunities that I do. I have learned to take them, even if I’m unsure if I’ll like them or not, because I’ll never know what I like until I know what I don’t like.
So, Class of 2014, we are in command of our own lives now. You might be scared, you might be excited, or you might be like me and be feeling a lot of everything, but whatever you are feeling, just go out there and try. Let’s go out there and try to appreciate the little things, whether it’s your normally functioning body, or the amazing restaurant you found, or even the extra hour of sleep you got one night because you finished your work early. Try to remember that your worst day could be someone else’s best, and always remember that happiness is a path you choose. If you don’t take the time to find happiness, happiness may not find you. Now let’s go out into the world and make our island proud. Thank you.