RFA valedictorian: ‘We will leave our mark with a flourish’


Rome Free Academy Class of 2021 valedictorian Adelina Rivera offered the following words to her classmates on Saturday:

“I was researching what makes a speech a good one, and I found the typical ‘keep it short,’ ‘use some humor,’ all the stuff we expect to see. But I also read something that said not to mention the Webster Dictionary. So I won’t mention the Webster Dictionary. You won’t hear me say ‘Webster Dictionary’ more than three times. 

Of course, if I can’t use the aforementioned dictionary, there’s obviously no point in using another one. I’ll just define any ambiguous words using other sources. If there’s any confusion, please see me later. 

word. later: “When a woman says later, she really means not ever.” Princess and the Frog. 2009. 

Audience members, family, friends, frogs. Before you is a sea of diversity, a speck in the whole of a generation. These people before you, the generation we represent, and the generations following behind us, we will change the world we inherited. We survived unusual high school experiences and could tell millions of stories about it. We have more than enough capability and ambition, and we will leave our mark with a flourish. 

word. ambition: You’re probably baring your teeth, might be singing to a pack of hyenas, and are also most likely planning to take your brother’s throne. The Lion King. 1994. 

Class of 2021, graduates, lions. We made it! Happy graduation day! It’s onto a different path to our own futures, but before we get so far, I’d like to congratulate all of you. We made it through a lot, COVID and the rest of high school. Those ‘normal’ years aren’t negligible, even if they’ve been overshadowed recently. That being said, I am incredibly proud of all of you and know all of you have the potential to thrive in the unknown. 

word. unknown: in this case, “part of growing up. A little adventure…” Just don’t forget to have a frying pan handy. Tangled. 2010. 

Naturally, I do have a few pieces of unsolicited advice. Feel free to heed or ignore them. Don’t forget to live. Not everyone’s going to like you, but you’ll meet plenty of potential friends. Mistakes are inevitable. And wear sunscreen. 

word. live: not just wanting to survive. Wall-e. 2008. 

word. mistakes: the opportunity where you have to decide whether to run from the past or learn from it. The Lion King. 1994. 

Of course, it would be inaccurate to portray our success as if produced in a vacuum. We all have people in our lives that make our journeys easier. It seems only appropriate that I highlight a few of mine, though in reality they are so much more numerous and a simple thank-you is never enough. 

Thank you to all of my teachers, specifically Mrs. Richardson, Ms. Downs, Ms. Scharf, and Mrs. Oshier. Thank you to the RFA Music Department, ColorGuard, and WinterGuard staff. Thank you Mr. Meiss, Lindsay Mogle, Jamie Mazur, and Greg Unangst. Thank you to my huge, supportive family and wonderful group of friends. Thank you to my nuclear family: my two parents and four siblings. 

And one last, special thank you to my twin, for always being there for me and getting me through calculus. 

phrase. RFA Music Department, ColorGuard, and WinterGuard: see ohana or family. Lilo and Stitch. 2002. 

That’s enough of me reminiscing. Today is supposed to be celebrating something new and exciting. I wish the graduates here the best, and encourage all of you to strive to continue to grow no matter where you end up in life. To our futures!”


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