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LZHS Salutatorian's Speech Inspired by Graduates' Memories

Lissa Mandell shared memories of her classmates from band and theater to "Bomb Threat 2012."

Lake Zurich High School's Class of 2012 included 516 graduates. Salutatorian Lissa Mandell spoke at the graduation ceremony on May 26, with a speech punctuated with sound effects from the band, cheers from the class and a clarinet solo of the high school fight song.

Lissa will attend the University of Miami in the fall to study biology and Spanish. She said she would like to get involved in researching the genetics of autism to develop tests and gene therapies to help improve the lives of those affected.

Lissa was awarded the Stamps Scholarship which includes four years of full tuition, room and board, books, fees and a $12,000 stipend.

 

Here is her speech:

 

Hi everyone, I’m Lissa Mandell, the salutatorian this year, and thank you all for coming today to share this experience with our graduating class! If you’re expecting a deep, existential, serious speech, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but Pat Juras will be making your kind of speech after me so I guess you’ll just have to put up with me for the next couple minutes.

When Mr. Rubenstein asked me for the fifth time “Hey Lissa, where’s your graduation speech?”, he gave me a packet with examples from previous years, all of which were far more eloquent than anything I could ever write. Based on the speeches I was provided, apparently inspirational quotes are the way to go.

So I thought, who better to quote than the actual students of the fantastic class of 2012? I asked some seniors to give me their favorite memories from high school, and this is what they said.

Samantha Patriarca said, “My favorite memory is looking up at the constellations on the ceiling in Ms. Mcbride's class!!!”

Bryan Smith said, “My favorite memory is scoring my first goal at home for LZ varsity soccer.”

I asked Rebecca Sertic for her favorite memory, and she only gave me two words: “Marching band.” However, I totally understand – since that’s actually one of my only real regrets about high school – not being part of the band, the most cohesive group here!

Evan Williams mentioned something about Friday night football games.  Wait a sec, football games? Ohhh that’s what happens before and after the band shows on Friday nights! I’m just kidding, football games were definitely a highlight for all of us here at LZHS, cheering on our winning football team every Friday.

Annika Sundberg said, “I remember being a freshman, and I would eat my lunch outside of the choir room and marvel at Concert Choir rehearsing. They amazed me so much. Now, not only am I in choir, but I'm in that same Concert Choir.”

I asked Laura Bellamy to give me her favorite memory and she said “my favorite part of high school was making friends with everyone.  Also I think that moving here I really got to improve myself and my passion for art.” I really agree with what Laura said – what we’re going to remember about high school are not things like what grade you got in Calculus, and you especially won’t remember what I said during this speech. What we’ll remember are the interests we cultivated and the relationships we formed. And so my favorite memories aren’t of big events like band concerts or theater performances, even though they are fantastic, but memories that I made with my friends.

Now, for a memory of mine that I hope all of you seniors remember!

One of our first memories is at freshman orientation, when we clueless 8th graders were led around by the BIG KIDS: JUNIORS AND SENIORS! We all got nametags and met some other freshmen whose last names were next to ours in the alphabet, which was good because I didn’t know anybody – you see, I went to a tiny middle school with 8 kids in my graduating 8th grade class. So coming to LZHS was a pretty big transition for me! Good thing I met some wonderful people that day, and I’m still friends with them now!

At freshman orientation we also got our school ID pictures, which now, as we look back on them, we are totally embarrassed about, because we looked like little kids compared to now! Oh, and also at freshman orientation, we learned the cheesiest cheer for our class! Who remembers that cheer? “We are dynamite, don’t mess with dynamite, cuz when you mess with dynamite, it goes  a-rick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick  BOOM DYNAMITE! BOOM BOOM DYNAMITE! Hold up wait a minute 2012 is all up in it!”

Four years later it turned out it was quite a fitting cheer that actually foreshadowed one of the craziest memories from LZHS – BOMB THREAT 2012! Since there’s almost no crime in our peaceful suburb of Lake Zurich, it was a huge deal when someone left a “suspicious package” in the parking lot and the school was put on lockdown! Lake Zurich became the center of a rapidly developing news story, which included news helicopters flying over the school! Eventually the bomb squad arrived and gave the all clear, and we learned an important lesson, especially one for all the parents video-taping right now or planning to take hundreds of pictures of your new graduate after the ceremony: Please, do not leave your camera case in the parking lot! It will be mistaken for a bomb!

And now even though I included a bunch of quotes from students in my speech, although not as many as I originally had before my speech was edited by Mr. Rubenstein,  I think I still need to add one from someone famous enough to have their own Wikipedia article. I tried to find someone inspirational, but not too philosophical, and someone we’ve actually heard of. So I went with the creator of everyone’s favorite brand of computer, phone, and MP3 player: Steve Jobs! Seniors, when it comes to your futures, please don’t aspire to be like Steve Jobs in that you feel the need to control every detail of your life and wear the same black turtleneck every time you go out in public. Instead, I have a quote from him you can live by! He said “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” I’m pretty sure he was referring to always searching for more knowledge and not getting complacent with what you already know, but it’s probably up for other interpretations too! So everyone, thanks for listening to me! And congratulations to the class of 2012!

And next up we have Pat Juras, our valedictorian, giving a speech. However, Pat isn’t actually here today since he is competing in track state finals. And since the one thing he hasn’t mastered in life is how to be in two places at one time, he recorded his speech ahead of time and will be appearing up on this screen. 

 

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