Well, ’tis the season!
June means graduations. Graduations mean that somewhere a young man or woman is preparing a valedictorian speech. Years ago, my niece, Paige attended the graduation of her big brother, Grant. Even though she was quite young, she was moved by the valedictorian’s speech. Paige turned to her parents, and told them, “I want to be valedictorian someday.”
Well, this month Paige graduates from grade 8 and, yup, she will be on the podium encouraging her fellow graduates as they move on to high school. Her words came true; she’s the valedictorian! The title couldn’t be bestowed on a more deserving person. She’s as well-rounded as they come. Paige excels academically, plays many sports, stars in plays, and even has sung the national anthem at the city’s ball park. But, I’m proudest of my niece for her social justice actions. Paige is active in her Me-to-We group at school and has raised funds and participated in canned drives for the homeless. On a trip to Chicago with her family, she saw homeless people near her hotel when her family was walking home from a pizzeria. Paige insisted the man receive the left-over pizza they were carting home from the restaurant. Out of all of Paige’s accomplishments, the one I am most proud of is her heart is in the right place!
I was at my parent’s Sunday night when Mom and Dad told me Paige was chosen for the class valedictorian. Then, Dad said quietly,” I was the valedictorian for my class.” Mom slapped him on the leg gently and exclaimed,” After all these years, you’re telling me this now!” Dad’s almost 94 and Mom’s almost 90. About time that got disclosed. Then, Mom turned to me and proudly said,” And your Dad was only 16 when he graduated from grade 13. He skipped two grades.” Dad, ever humble, said that he didn’t really know what the valedictorian was all about but managed to say a few words. And added, “History repeats itself!” Well, actually another grand-daughter was valedictorian also. She went on to med school. Who knows what the future holds for Paige?
When Dad was young, his family was one of the first Italian families in the small town of Wallaceburg. When he was a bit older, Dad was denied entry in an organization for public speaking because of his Italian background. But, in high school, the person that stood out from the others was noticed. They picked the right student when they chose my Dad for valedictorian. Our family has been blessed with the best role model all of our lives. The young Italian lad stood taller than the others in so many ways. Thanks for sharing, Dad!