"Ready or Not"           

Katharine Jackson, 2000

     I've often wondered: how do you cram four fabulous years of being a firebird into a few minutes? As I ponder this question, the poet within me takes control. I call it "The Fairmont Experience":

     As we stand one last time in our silver and blue,
     We give our thanks to you-know-who.
     Fairmont, Fairmont, oh where would we be?
     Without you to teach us how to…watch t.v.
     YES, Friday morning announcements! Ya better tune in!
     For when else can you see Dr. Schoenlein grin?
     Certainly not as he's escorting you to your 5th period class
     As you were caught in the parking lot without a pass.
     As we seniors walk down Central for one last time
     Wave goodbye to Mr. Greene as over the freshmen we climb.
     We bury our planners. Someone solemnly plays "Taps."
     Simultaneously all the girls bust out the spaghetti straps.
     Fairmont, Fairmont, we bid you farewell.
     Thanks to our senior prank, we're all goin' to…

       Okay, so maybe I'm not getting a Pulitzer for this one. When I think of my Fairmont experience, I don't just think of tennis matches, speech tournaments, and showchoir competitions. I think of people, lots of different people. I think of students so involved in extra-curriculars that they need to schedule in time to go to the bathroom. I think of students who go to school full-time and then work 40 hours a week to help support their families. I think of students whose TI-83's are such a permanent fixture in their hands that you often wonder if it's a form of life support, like if you took it away, they'd just keel over or something. I think of students who, in the words of Mr. Googash, "never met a Cliff's Notes they didn't like." I think of students and teachers with disabilities who come to school everyday with a huge smile on their face, ready to get to work, proving that nothing can crush the human spirit.

       But let us take a moment to examine the graduating class. From the moment this class set foot in Fairmont High School, we have set the precedent for leadership within the school and community. With a record twenty-six individuals achieving the distinction of Valedictorian, our class has continually surpassed all expectations. Who could forget winning the Spirit Chain as FRESHMEN? The leadership of our senior class has led the Volleyball team to District Runners-up and the Field Hockey team all the way to State. Both the marching band and the soccer team had unbelievable seasons this year and aswimmer in our senior class not only placed 2nd in the State, but also qualified for the Olympic trials in three events.

       But ladies and gentlemen, this is nothing compared to what this class may achieve in the upcoming years. Among us, we may have the next Maya Angelou or another Bill Gates. In our midst may sit a future head of the F.B.I. or the first woman president. We may have the next Spielberg, another Jodie Foster, or even a J.F.K.  Jr. And if you're that J.F.K. Jr., my number's in the directory. Fellow firebirds, our journey is just beginning. In our years at Fairmont, we have learned determination, character, ambition, and pride. DECA and the vocational programs have taught us valuable skills, which we may readily apply to our chosen careers. The National Honor Society and the Octagon Club have taught us the value of service to our community. The newly instituted character education program has served as a constant reminder of the importance of integrity and virtue. Fairmont's continued achievements in the areas of athletics, the performing arts, and academics prove that as a community, we can perform miracles.  Let us continue our vertical voyage, reaching for the stars and never settling for mediocrity. We are each given but one life with which to make a difference. Fellow graduates, what will you do with yours? In a society rife with violence and hate, we are given the opportunity to rise above the stereotype of the apathetic teenager. We have the power to do anything, to achieve everything, and to soar beyond all expectations. We are the graduating class of 2000 - strong, intelligent, and prepared to take the world by storm. Ready or not, here we come.