In its own special way, Explore Knowledge Academy is every student’s ship, especially for seniors. We all board, some early, some late, and grab our spot below deck at an oar. We set sail and voyage the open water that is life. EKA keeps us safe inside but that doesn’t shield us from the carnage beyond. We watch wave after wave threaten to splinter the wood and take us for good. We hear the crashing so close to us that it vibrates our whole bodies and we can’t help but sweat at the fact that there’s so little between, keeping you from being consumed. Some of us even begin to feel like we’re already drowning as we grip the wooden handle and paddle desperately to get to our destination. No one ever said life at sea would be easy.
If EKA was a boat, our teachers would certainly be our anchor. No voyage an EKA student takes is overnight, and it’s our anchor that holds us steady in the waters when it’s time to rest our weary arms. Our teachers are made of the sturdiest metal, that may sometimes creak and complain at the load its holding, but never ever lets go. EKA teachers have a way of seeing beyond the horizon. In every essay, they see us writing a report to a future boss. Every presentation is a future pitch that gets us that promotion at our company. Every grade is your performance in a career. And even when they watch you bump into someone in the halls or are being written a detention, they’re crossing their fingers that it doesn’t mean a future fender bender or trouble with law enforcement in our futures.
Whether we are watching ripples below, sea sick from bobbing up and down, or feeling like there’s a tsunami headed our way, we had a strong boat and a sturdy anchor to keep us afloat.
But we have a boat not every senior gets lucky enough to have. One that is reliable, steady, and even sentimental to us. The thing about our trusty old ship, is that it’s not fancy. It is no yacht, two story, chrome plated, sound proof. The EKA is simply built, formed by the working and callused hands of every student it carries. Every plank and nail placed just right to keep every one of us afloat. The thing about yachts is that they’re not designed for hard water. Seniors whose captain gifts them with a fancy boat are destined to stay near the shore. When the first big storm comes in, and they are faced with turmoil the life brings, those students go overboard and drown in even the shallowest of water.
We may feel every tremor, hear each slam of pressure near our head, and suffer through the ocean chill that leaks in through the cracks, but we are made stronger by it. We are prepared for every trial and hardship that dares to try and capsize us. We row and row and every last one of us can row in our own direction, and know that the EKA ship will get us there safely. It’s our sailors, our students, our future leaders of the world, who sail the world, roaming under clouds with no restraints, creatures with no names, and seas with seemingly no bottoms, and with splinters in our palms and a smile on our face, we step off and put our feet onto uncharted sands, determined to be leaders our ship molded us to be.
Not one of us leaves here today unchanged by this school. And not one of us would be up here today if we weren’t prepared to leave it behind. Year after year, Explore Knowledge Academy faces rough waters with its seniors. A boat goes nowhere without the strength of this graduating class’ insatiable rowing, and together we have worked so hard to make it here. All the smiles behind me are laced with tears and sweat and good thing we are wearing caps so you don’t see the bald spots from pulling our hair out all year. Yet the smiles are still there. I wish all luck in the world to my crew mates, my graduating class, and what has become a phenomenal group of friends.
Every year, the ship drops each person off safely in their own new place in the world. And there’s that bittersweet feeling as you wave goodbye and watch it sail off into the distance to meet up with its new senior class. But you turn around and there’s this beautiful island behind you. It’s rugged and scary, but it’s all ours for the taking and I personally can’t wait to see what we do with it.
2015-2016 EKA Valedictorian