Valedictorians Close the Academic Year
by Jonathan Chan on Friday, June 6th, 2014Seniors Sydney Park and Valentine Ora delighted the Class of 2014, upper school students, parents, friends, and families with their valedictorian speeches during graduation this morning, sharing their heartfelt experiences and fond memories of Milton.
Unlike most other schools, valedictorian speakers at Milton are not chosen based on their grades and class ranking. All seniors can nominate themselves as candidates to speak at graduation as valedictorian speakers. Interested applicants write and present one minute speeches to the members of the senior class to garner their votes; the male student and the female student receiving the most votes from their classmates are named to speak as valedictorians on graduation day.
In addition to possessing unique humor, both Sydney and Val are well known for their extraordinary affection, dedication, and enthusiasm for the Milton community. Both received Head of School awards yesterday at the annual Awards Ceremony, honoring them for their contributions to our community. Both have expressed a great deal of pride in being members of the talented Class of 2014, which is full of “hidden gems” according to Val.
Past valedictorians at Milton have been involved in a wide range of activities on campus; this year’s speakers are no exception. Sydney was a proud Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Milton Paper, a dedicated member of the Varsity Soccer team, an invaluable ISS member for Hathaway House, and an actress in this year’s school play The Laramie Project. She is also a “self-proclaimed raffle ticket fireball.” Val is a Class I Councillor, a proud member of Hack Soccer, a Humor Editor for The Milton Paper, a member of the Gospel Choir, and a board member of Model UN and Amnesty International. A month ago, he also participated in the 1212 play, his first production ever at Milton.
When asked why she wanted to be a Valedictorian speaker, Sydney said, “I really loved my Class and loved being at Milton.” Sydney is devoted to her class; she said, “The reason I sold so many raffle tickets was because I thought everyone deserved an amazing prom. If that meant unabashedly beg underclassmen to buy tickets, I was willing to do that.”
A resident of Hathaway House since freshmen year, Sydney said she will especially miss her dorm because she “loves all the girls there.” She will also miss her advisor, Mrs. Kaufman, “the greatest advisor anyone could ever ask for.” In her spare time, Sydney enjoys knitting, drawing, doodling and window shopping. The valedictorian wishes to thank Rubye Peyser (I) for being a “great person in my life this past year, especially when everything [got] really stressful.”
Sydney offered these words of wisdom to next year’s seniors, the Class of 2015: “Sometimes, you have to balance putting yourself in front of others and others in front of yourself. Sometimes you’re going to get stressed out – you just need to remember that no one has died yet by cause of senior fall.” Sydney will be attending the American University of Paris next year, after which she will most likely attend the George Washington University. She plans “working in and eventually taking over my dad’s company – big dreams.” Sydney did not want to reveal too much of her speech, but she said, “it involves squirrels and Herodotus of Halicarnassus.”
Having entered Milton in the 6th grade and becoming a resident of Norris House in his junior year, Val knows Milton well. When asked why he believes he got elected, Val could not resist including a joke, saying, “When I was handing out ballots, I was also handing out $20 bills, so that may be part of the reason I won.” Val says his most memorable experience from Milton was senior walk-in because “to speak in front of the whole upper school is something I thought would never have happened.”
Val said he will “miss the people the most,” adding, “It’s weird to think in a few weeks I won’t see those people again.” In his free time, Val enjoys soccer, listening to rap, and writing poetry. Val says he has matured from his middle school years, saying, “I am a lot more confident and talkative…and more willing to put myself out there.” However, Val jokingly said he “hasn’t gotten anymore hard-working – something I need to work on.”
Val’s advice to seniors is to “volunteer more at class assemblies, otherwise nobody’s going to have a good time. Don’t be afraid to put yourself there and be cool with each other – don’t be too cliquey and get to know a lot of people in your grade.” After Milton, Val will be attending Brown University, even though he said, “I still don’t know how this happened.” The overarching message of Val’s valedictory speech this morning was: “It’s okay to not be perfect. Perfection is overrated, and it also doesn’t exist.”
Two incredibly devoted and talented members of the Class of 2014, Sydney and Val have continued Milton’s proud tradition of heartfelt valedictory speeches, mixing heartfelt advice with their characteristic humor. Next year, their absences will be missed.
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