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Mary Beth Howard Valedictorian Speech



When I sat down to write this speech, the words would not come to me. And if you know me, you know being at a loss for words is a rare occasion. I think the reason I was having so much trouble was because I don’t want to say goodbye. Leaving St. Raphael is like leaving home and I do consider this amazing school and parish to be my second home. I consider the wonderful people here to be my second family. Like any other young person, I don’t want to leave home. I know that staying here would be easy, but we need to step outside of our comfort zones. Wneed to move on to bigger and greater things. Having said that, I know that I will never forget my time spent here at St. Raphael.

During the summer after sixth grade, the news of Epiphany’s closing spread. I soon learned that most of the students from Epiphany were coming to our school. To say the least, I was nervous. When the first day of seventh grade rolled around, I realized that these new kids were nothing to worry about! They were just like us. I now compare our class to a puzzle. We were incomplete before the Epiphany kids came. Those students were the missing puzzle pieces. With them, our class was complete!


I started St. Raphael as an eager Kindergartener. Like most children, I had no idea what lay ahead of meAs I grew and learned, a number of new kids joined the class. Each puzzle piece fitting right into place. When I got into the upper grades, I started to wish my time away. Counting down the days left before summer. Wishing I could be done with school. Now that I am finished here, I take back all the wishes. I take back all the times I wished school was over. I take back all the times I prayed for time to go by faster. I want it back. I want to go back and enjoy every moment and take in every memory.

I do not know where to begin with my favorite memories of St. Raphael. Firstly, I have to say that I have never had a bad day this whole eighth grade year. I mean, how could I? Every day I was greeted with a smile and a good morning from Ms. Runiewicz. Then, my best friends in the whole world would talk to me and tell me everything and anything there was to say. I would start almost every day thanking God that I had friends around me to make me feel good.



As for eighth grade, my favorite memory is the Luke 18 retreat. That weekend, my class really bonded. I learned a lot about other students, about God, and about myself. I learned to put my trust in God. I learned that God has a plan. Every misfortune I face, I don’t have to face it alone. God is always there.

As we go our separate ways, I hope we never forget and we always look back at the Class of 2012 with love. I hope the memories will be reminders of the great times we had together at St. Raphael. All the times we laughed together, the times we cried together, the times we were there for each other, and even the times we did things we weren’t supposed to do. They are all stories we can share. We can hold these memories close to our hearts. We went through it all together. We can look back and smile because we did it!

I hope we stay close, but if we drift apart I only hope that the memories are alive in our hearts. Although we have graduated from St. Raphael, we will never really be finished. St. Raphael has left its mark on us and we have left our mark on St. Raphael. A part of me will always be found in the halls of St. Raphael. I know it will be hard to move on to high school and I will miss St. Raphael. I will miss my home.

Disney said it best in the movie Peter Pan, “Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” The worst thing I can think of is forgetting my times at St. Raphael. So today, I will not say goodbye. I will simply say thank you for the memories and I will see you later!