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Grady Beach’s Valedictorian Speech 

 Chattooga High School Class of 2021 held its graduation ceremony Friday, May 28th.
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Gray Beach delivered the following Valedictorian Address:

Good evening graduates, family members, administrators, teachers, board members and friends. I am Grady Beach, and I am the Valedictorian for the Class of 2021. To start tonight, I would like to express my sincerest thanks to our Superintendent, Mr. Jared Hosmer, our honored school board members, administrators, faculty, staff, family members and friends for being here tonight to celebrate the Class of 2021. 

Unprecedented. This word has been something that we have all become very familiar with over the past year. In our safe haven corner in the Northwest Georgia hills, the word unprecedented took on a completely different meaning than in other places around the country and globe. Our amazing school system set out over the summer of 2020 to plan and carry out a successful return to in person learning for the 2020-2021 school year. They worked tirelessly each day so that we could start our school year on the original start date of July 30th. As a matter of fact, our return to in person learning was the subject of regional and national news coverage as we dared to attempt what some deemed impossible: a return to normalcy with safeguards in place. From forehead temperature checks to gallons of sanitizer and disinfectant, we faced the situation head on and persevered. We were doubted by the critics. However, we stand here today to say that you should never doubt the determination of an educational system that wants what is best for its students. In short, COVID knows not to mess with the Chattooga Indian Tribe. So to our administrators, school board, Mr. Hosmer, faculty, custodians,

bus drivers, and cafeteria workers, thank you all tremendously for making it a wonderful year, not only for the Class of 2021, but for all of the students in our school. 

Although we are a relatively small class compared to those in the past, our accomplishments are great. Along with resuming in-person instruction, we excelled and reached new heights outside of the classroom. Our cheer, volleyball, basketball, tennis, track, baseball, wrestling, and football teams all had very successful seasons filled with state tournament appearances, record setters, and state champion winners. Also, we have many students who have committed to continue their education and sports careers at various colleges and universities. Along with athletics, we had many students who competed in events through their CTAE classes and clubs. In competitions, we had students and teams bring home regional, state, and national awards and titles in band, agriculture, welding, construction, law, and healthcare. The atmosphere at Chattooga High School sets students up for excellence on a daily basis, and these students and their hard work are evidence of students thriving in this atmosphere. 

To my classmates, WOW, the day that we have looked forward to all year is finally here. As we sit here in anticipation of turning our tassels, take it all in and remember these moments. Also, I know that our families are extremely proud of us, and I suggest that you take this perfect opportunity to ask for plenty of gifts and money. (Pause for laughter).

As we get ready to step out into the world as adults, I think it is important to remember these things: 

  1. Be Humble and Don’t Forget Your Roots: Never forget where you came from. This county is your home. Be proud of it. Wherever you go in life, walk proudly knowing that this community shaped you into who you are today. Remember there is always someone less fortunate than yourself. When you can, use your talents and abilities to offer a hand up to those who need one. A kind word or deed can go far in this world. 
  2. Travel: Most of us will settle down somewhere when we find our career. However, it is very important that you travel and see the world, if you can, of course. The world is a huge place, and by seeing more of it, you will have a greater perspective of life and a greater appreciation for your world as a whole. 
  3. Have Faith in Yourself: Always believe in yourself, your abilities, and your talents. Oftentimes, people will say “The sky’s the limit;” however, you can do anything you set your mind to because YOU and you alone are your limiting factor to success. If you put in the work, dedicate yourself, and focus, you can accomplish anything in this world. 
  4. Have Faith in God: God is all powerful, all knowing, and always on your side. Matthew 17:20 reads, “If you have faith, nothing shall be impossible for you.” Trust in the Lord, know He is always there for you, and you will achieve the impossible with His love.

My pastor, Jason Willis, gave a sermon one Sunday about living your dash. You may be asking yourself, what exactly does this mean? We have all seen a tombstone at some point in our life, and these markings have an inscribed date of birth and date of death. When we look at tombstones, we usually focus mainly on the dates. Although, what separates these dates is what’s most important: the dash. The dash represents the time in between the two dates, also known as the person’s life. Although the dates are what we focus on, we mainly talk about what people have done during their life and how they chose to live their dash. Our dash is what we make it. 

We, the Class of 2021, have spent four years of our dash at Chattooga High School, and I think I speak on behalf of my class when I say that I am glad my dash will no longer include worrying about falling down the stairs in between classes. On a serious note though, we have spent these four years growing our knowledge, making memories with each other, and preparing to go out into the world. We spent many hours studying hard, enjoying our high school experiences, and creating memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. We have seen each other at our highs and our lows, and we have always been there to support each other. These four years of our dash as a class at CHS have been absolutely unforgettable. 

Starting today, we are all being given the opportunity to leave CHS, go into the world, and live our dash. As you start living your dash more, I want to challenge you to live your dash in these ways.

  • Make the most of every moment. Live in the moment, and don’t stress about situations that are out of your control. 
  • Remember that your dash is YOURS! You have control over your life and what you do with it. Use your dash to do good for others. 
  • Reach for the stars. Take every chance. Move mountains. 
  • Cherish your family and friends. You never know when your last moments with them will be. 
  • Time never stops, and I think many of us sitting here today feel like we walked into Chattooga High as a freshman, blinked, and ended up here, so don’t waste the moments that life gives you. 
  • Take every opportunity that life gives you. 
  • Work hard, but play hard also! 
  • Make every moment count. Esther 4:14 reads “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.” Find your moment and seize it! 

Many of us graduating today are great-grandchildren of the greatest generation to walk the earth. The majority of this generation did not even get the chance to finish high school before crossing the ocean to fight evil in Japan, Germany, and many other places. They bravely traveled halfway around the globe to face and fight evil that the world had never witnessed before. Those that survived returned home to build this country into one of the greatest nations in history. Tonight, my classmates and I stand before you as legacies to this great generation of Americans. Dare we attempt to live up to their greatness? I believe it is our sole duty to do just that. Faculty, family, friends, and

guests, the class sitting on this field tonight are the future of this community, nation, and world. We are the next electricians, welders, doctors, plumbers, nurses, cosmetologists, farmers, military members, police officers, first responders, lawyers, judges, textile workers, and public servants. On behalf of the Class of 2021, I pledge to all of you that we will strive to uphold the legacy of the greatest generation and be a generation that our country can be proud of. Pearl Buck once said, “The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible–and achieve it, generation after generation!” 

Before I close tonight, I would personally like to thank my parents, grandparents, family, church family, friends, and God for everything you have done for me on my journey to this point. I believe that I also speak for my class when I say that if it weren’t for all you, none of us would be here today. So I thank you tremendously tonight for all of your love and support, I love you, and I cannot wait to make all of you proud. 

To the Class of 2021. As you leave tonight, walk proudly and with your head high. You are officially alumni of Chattooga High School, and no matter where you go in life, you will always be a member of the Chattooga Indian Tribe. If at any point in your life you feel alone, remember that this is your home and this community is always here for you. Dream big, accomplish your goals, change the world, but never forget the place from which you came. We have all worked extremely hard to get here, and we must now go into the world and work to keep our country the greatest on the planet. I am more than

honored to be your Valedictorian, and I am so proud of everything that we have accomplished individually and as a whole. 

Parents, friends, and Chattooga High School, thank you all for guiding us to this point and directing our paths. We truly owe you all a debt of gratitude. May God continue to bless us all! Thank you, Tribe Pride, and Chattooga High All Hail!!

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