February 8, 2023 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

‘I am proud of all of us’ by Kristen Costa

To the St. Joseph-Ogden High School Class of 2020, when I began writing this speech, I didn’t even know where to begin.

Ever since I was elected Senior Class President, I wanted to give this speech and imagined giving it while standing in front of you all, making jokes that only I would laugh at, all the while being cliche and telling you to ¨spread your wings and fly.”

I never imagined that the only ones in the room laughing at my jokes would be my parents, and that’s only because I told them when to laugh.

Therefore, how I decided to begin this speech is by saying… this absolutely stinks. We deserve to have so much better. We deserve the normal confetti, cheering, and awkward walks down the aisle. Even though it stinks right now, I want to tell you and your families, it’s okay to be upset by that. It is okay to be upset but to know that it is necessary for the health of our community and country.

Although, this absolutely stinks, don’t let it diminish the amazing achievements our class has accomplished.

Our group is incredibly smart, competitive, talented, and driven and we will all go so far. We were born in the aftermath of 9/11 and are now graduating during a global pandemic and what will become known as another Civil Rights Movement.

Our children and grandchildren will study the world as it is right now, and we will be able to say we graduated in the midst of this legendary time. We are special because of our competitive, driven nature. We have always been driven to excel at any activity we were involved in. Whether that was making it to state finals in middle school, trying our hardest in drama productions and band concerts, making the honor roll or high honor roll, and all of the other equally as important accomplishments we have achieved. In addition to all of that, we lay claim to having the longest senior skip day in all of SJO history… You’d be lying if you said that we aren’t going to become known as a legendary generation. You’d be lying if you said we aren’t going to change the world.

Despite all we have been through during our senior year, the St. Joseph-Ogden Administration was still able to put together an almost traditional graduation.

We are lucky to have a school that worked so hard to put this together and try to make it as normal as possible. We are lucky to have a school that helps us to excel and cheers us on when we do so. Personally, I am grateful for the teachers and administration I have had throughout the years at SJO. They have not only put up with us for four years, well 3.75 years, but they cared about us and helped to shape us into the adults that we have become. Even though we don´t get to sit in a hot, crowded gym for two hours together, hopefully, we will all get to come back together soon to say our goodbyes. If not, you all should know I will work very hard to plan an incredible reunion.

As a lot of you know, I was inspired to be a Spanish teacher, partially due to the incredible staff that we have had here at St. Joe. Although some of that inspiration and attraction came from Spanish Music, that being said, there are some lyrics and advice that I wanted to leave you all with today. Don´t worry, I´m not giving it to you in Spanish. In the song Vivir mi Vida, by the wise Marc Anthony, he says, ¨I´m gonna laugh, I´m gonna dance, Live, always keep moving forward.¨ That advice is so important for us to hear, especially right now. What is happening in the world right now is unfair, terrible, and sad. While it is definitely all of those things, if we are able to move on and continue living, we will be able to change the world, help the world, and make the world a better place. Not just our community, not just our state, not just our country, but the entire world.

As I wrap up, I would like to say that I am proud of all of us. I hope to see you all again very soon. Continue to live, continue to celebrate, and continue to change the world little by little. I cannot wait to see where each and every one of us go. As I have said time and time again, our Class, along with the rest of our generation, will change the world. Congrats to the 2020 Class of St. Joseph-Ogden High School. Thank you.

View the SJO graduation ceremony here.

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