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Pebbles: A graduation speech by Natalie Fiorani

Natalie Fiorani and best friend Meryl Cunningham are all smiles. Photo by Doug Fiorani (click for larger version)
June 16, 2010 - While a number of individuals got behind the podium to offer good wishes and words of wisdom to Lake Orion High School's class of 2010 last week, two students—Natalie Fiorani and Devon Fasbinder—wrote speeches and auditioned amongst a group of peers before they were selected for the honor.

"We were very surprised that Natalie was even considering," said her mom, Theresa Natalie Fiorani. "But she said it but she said it was something she always wanted to do. We're quite proud of her; she sounded so calm and composed but she said she was quite nervous as she stood before that huge crowd."

Following are Natalie's words from her speech, "Pebbles."

. . . . . . . . . . . * * * . . . . . . . . .

Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Natalie Fiorani.

I don't want to stand up here and talk about how much we've all been through together, and how we're the best class to ever grace Lake Orion High School. Instead, I want to point out something that everyone should realize. Every one of us is our own person, and that is a beautiful gift.

The way I look at it, we all have a jar. From the moment we were born people put pebbles in our jar. Whether it was teaching us to walk, giving us a sense of humor, or teaching us to deal with grief. Every pebble slowly adds up, creating each individual that sits before me right now. No one's jar is heavier than someone else's, just filled with different pebbles. No one's jar is more important than someone else's, just filled with different pebbles.

When I was in sixth grade, I broke my foot by running and sliding on a pillow. Pebble. In 8th grade, I met my best friend. Pebble. When I was 16, I got in a car accident. Pebble. Slowly but steadily, every experience we have adds pebbles to our jar. We learn what we like, what we don't like, what is important, and what isn't. I don't have the same morals, values, or interests as all of you, but does that make me less or more important?

To the almost six hundred students seated in front of me, take a moment to think about who and what have put pebbles into your jar. Who has made an impact on you? What has made you stronger?

Your jar will never get full. Every person you meet, every place you go, just more pebbles slowly changing the person you are. It isn't a bad thing, nor is it a race. Pebbles will fall into your jar unknowingly, some you may drop in yourself. What matters is that we carry this jar with us for the rest of our lives, constantly growing closer to reaching our true self. That's what life is all about right? Becoming yourself?

On this gorgeous June day, we add a huge pebble into our jar. As you walk across this stage you make the commitment to yourself to follow your dreams and do you. Don't be someone else. As Dr. Seuss once said, "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."

So as we prepare ourselves to walk across this stage, take a few moments to thank everyone who has put pebbles into your jar, good or bad. Thank those who helped you for making you stronger, and those who hurt you for making you stronger. Thank the skinned knee from the bike fall. Thank that one person who broke your heart. Thank your parents. Thank yourself. Carry your jar with you for the rest of your life and remember that the Lake Orion class of 2010 isn't complete without you.

So I leave you with this. Thank you friends and family sitting on the lawn. Thank you teachers and administrators. Thank you mom and dad. But most importantly, thank you class of 2010 for maybe unknowingly turning me into someone I am proud of today. Thank you and congratulations!

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