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More Mementos: Patty’s Graduation Speech

Here’s a cool flashback to our June Graduation Ceremony in 1981: Patty Anderson’s speech as our Class Valedictorian, delivered during the final Commencement activities on June 9. Below is the full text of the speech followed by scans of her original copy! Great speech and a great little memento from 30 years ago. Big thanks to Patty for finding and sharing this wonderful piece of 1981 treasure!

Parents, Friends, Faculty, Administration and my fellow classmates,

Tonight we reach the culmination of our years of study… Graduation 1981.

As we prepare to leave Robert E. Lee High School, we look back on four years of memories. The strange faces that first greeted us became familiar as the faculty and administration became both our educators and our friends. For them we dutifully wrote our not so perfect, Perfect Papers and waded through the required research papers. We studied Shakespeare and poetry, and learned theorems and formulas. We dissected frogs and experimented with chemical reactions, though never quite succeeding in blowing up the chemistry lab. We learned how to say, “Hello” in French or German or Spanish or Latin. We learned outside of the classroom as well. We worked together to build homecoming floats and decorated halls. On the fields and courts of Lee we learned to win with pride and lose with dignity. Through service clubs we learned to give of ourselves, and then, on the weekends, we learned to enjoy ourselves. On weekends we were free, but we knew that each Monday our teachers and our books would be waiting for us.

Each year, when June arrived, the Class of ’81 gathered at Lake Accotink to celebrate the end of one year and to say goodbye until the next. This year there was no Lake Accotink, as tonight we say a different kind of goodbye. But as we close the book on one chapter of our lives, we begin another. The dictionary defines commencement as, “A beginning: start.” It also lists another meaning for graduate, “To go from one stage to another, usually to a higher or better one.” The Class of ’81 has been enriched by Lee High School and now must move on. We will enter the world of industry or business, or begin again as freshmen at colleges and universities across the state and country, but always we will carry with us a little piece of Lee High School, the memories of the times we have shared.

Each day, for four years, we came to this red brick building. It was often hot in the fall and spring and cold in the winter, but the climate was right for forming friendships and gaining knowledge. There is a line in a song called “Thunder Road” that goes, “You ain’t a beauty, but hey you’re alright. And that’s alright with me.” Lee was not the biggest or newest or most modern school around, but it was our school, and it was all right.

Tonight, the Class of ’81 looks back at our school and fondly says goodbye—and thank you.

Patricia M. Anderson
Valedictorian, R.E. Lee High School Class of 1981

Love that! Now check out images of  Patty’s original copy, below. Click ’em to see them larger:

Page 1 of Patty Anderson's Graduation Speech

Page 1 - click image to see larger

Page 2 of Patty Anderson's Graduation Speech

Page 2 - click image to see larger

30 years later I’m reminded of another lyric from that very same song, “So you’re scared and you’re thinking, That maybe we ain’t that young anymore.” It’s a cliché but it certainly seems true that we ain’t getting older, we’re getting better. I don’t know about you but, for me, Patty’s words ring true, even today.

Patty: can’t think you enough for sharing these words, and sparking so many memories, in 1981 and again, 30 years later!

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