Valedictory Address at Commencement 2018

Valedictory Address
by Alexandria Clark, Class of 2018

The following address was delivered at Founders Classical Academy’s Second Annual Commencement on May 25, 2018. 

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Welcome all to the graduation ceremony of the class of 2018. I am privileged to be speaking before you today as Valedictorian to honor these fine graduates before we set off towards an exciting and brave new world ahead of us.

We have come so far in these past few years. Many of us have persevered through all four years of high school at Founders while others have joined along the way. I am extremely pleased to have been a part of this class’s growth over those years. I am proud of all of us for accomplishing so much. Each of us has earned the right to receive a diploma today. Our classical education has made us exceptional, virtue-oriented people who strive towards the good and happiness.

We are very contemplative, creative, driven students who will challenge the world. Our education has given us the tools to strive and to seek truth while not to yielding to convention.

Our class has been considered very quiet and rule abiding which has often been translated into somewhat insignificant. However, I do not consider our class’s quietness and discipline as insignificance. We are very contemplative, creative, driven students who will challenge the world. Our education has given us the tools to strive and to seek truth while not to yielding to convention.

My appreciation of Founders and classical education began freshman year as it also did for many other students. I enjoyed reading and discussing ancient texts such as the Iliad and the Aeneid in literature. In history we studied great books by Hesiod and Plutarch. We learned the very important name of Alexander the Great’s horse, Bucephalus, which is now ingrained into our minds. I also remember our two classes sporadically shouting “Sparta!” and “Athens!” at each other through the walls of two classrooms because of a debate over which city was best.

Sophomore Year, I recall Mr. Lyon’s history class where we became obsessed with Norse Mythology, encountered countless strange historical figures, and explored many influential battles. We listened to our literature teacher, Mr. Sercer, constantly remind us about his favorite virtue: prudence. We even advanced to having a formal debate on which city was best: Athens or Sparta.

Junior Year, we explored great American literature in Mr. Berndt’s class. We searched for the white whale in Moby Dick. We encountered the Roaring 20’s in The Great Gatsby and consequently became obsessed with that time period and the book, to the point where we have now displayed a large banner in Mr. Berndt’s room of Dr. Eckleburg’s eyes. In Physics, we built fantastic catapults and competed in a grand contest for honor.

And now it is the end of senior year. We have applied and been accepted to colleges. We have written and delivered defenses of our theses on human nature and the human good. We have worked diligently day and night. We have not only worked hard this year, but we have worked hard every year. We have survived the Founders education.

And yes, I do mean “survived.” Founders education is not a relaxing stroll through the park. Founders has challenged all of us to work tirelessly and diligently for our education. As Mr. Peterson is fond of telling us: “You must suffer into truth.” And suffer we did, and much did we gain. Founders has taught us something very unique: we have learned how to learn. I shall explain further.

Socrates famously said: “I know that I know nothing.” He asserted this as wisdom. He recognized that wisdom does not stem from claiming knowledge. Socrates challenged himself to question everything. He questioned not only how, but why things are. The how explains the material world while the why explains man’s connection to reality. By questioning why through dialectic we can gain a better understanding of being, of truth. Our reward for enduring this difficult task of constant questioning is attaining virtue and happiness.

Our teachers have turned our minds away from the false shadows of conventional understanding and towards the fires of reality and true knowledge. They have given us the opportunity to find our way to the bright sun of truth.

What we have learned at Founders is not only the material hows in science and mathematics, but also the whys in literature and philosophy. Most importantly, our time and education at Founders has taught us to question. Instead of accepting everything on faith, we investigate, we search, we confirm or create new conclusions. Our teachers have turned our minds away from the false shadows of conventional understanding and towards the fires of reality and true knowledge. They have given us the opportunity to find our way to the bright sun of truth. This suffering into truth is all for the purpose of the good life.

Through our education at Founders, our questioning has given us knowledge; knowledge that virtues, such as Prudence, Justice, Responsibility, Moderation, Wisdom, Courage, and Friendship, create well balanced souls aimed towards happiness. We all have experienced these virtues in the forms of trials, observations, and discussions.

However, we must be willing to use what we have learned at Founders to keep striving for truth. We have come so far, but still have much to learn. I believe that in our journeys ahead, we shall look back with great appreciation for our years at Founders Classical Academy. As my final message, I urge you, class of 2018, to continue to explore, question, and seek truth in order that you attain virtue and happiness.

Alexandria will be attending Texas Tech University to study physics or astrophysics in the fall.