Jun 14, 2011

a fond farewell to CHS's graduating debaters

Last Saturday marked the end-of-the-year celebration for CHS's Speech and Debate team. It's a celebration I've come to relish. We find a park if the weather's good, or a team member's home if it's not, and potluck it. Games, conversation, food, and, of course, speeches to recount triumphs, visions of the future, and, for the seniors, parting wisdom.

And gifts.

A few years ago, the team started a tradition of cobbling together some mementoes for the coach. This year's soon-to-be-graduates led the charge , and I have to say, the swag pile is pretty impressive, with reading material (Catch-22, The Encyclopedia of Useless Information), folk music, Guatemalan worry dolls, hair gel (gorilla snot? really?), a puzzle book, and a leopard-print Snuggie, which I will never, ever wear. Grace's handmade collection of Mr. Anderson Quotes (that have never made Twitter) was a delightful surprise, too. (Sample: "Well, let's just make a shot that will keep people from becoming Satanists, because that's a public health concern." I swear, it was valid in context.)

Their generosity and good humor should surprise no one, for this year's seniors are a special group. Sure, they've shone competitively, including a 2nd-place finish at the State I.E. tournament, but more important, they've always valued truth over trophies, and have always competed with character and class. As often as I have coached them, I have merely stood out of their way, and watched them triumph through their own effort and persistence.

They're good people made better by their experiences in forensics, leaders in the classroom and in the community.  They're writers, scientists, actors, scholars, artists, doctors, politicians, and whatever else they can imagine. They are tireless, and their possibilities are limitless.  It's humbling to see how much they've grown in four years, and more than a little sad to see them leave. They leave behind a history of accomplishments and a legacy of leadership, already inspiring their younger teammates to greatness.

So, to Jackson, Grace, Cameron, Matthew, Vamsi, Josie, Jesse, Layne, Shira, and Aaron: thanks for everything. I'll be so proud to see you walk across the stage tonight, out of CHS and into the wider world, bold representatives of a new generation.

The scaffolding is complete. The rest of the future is yours to build.

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