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Valedictorian Speech Class of 2020

Following is the text of the valedictory address delivered Wednesday by Metropolitan Business Academy’s Adrian Huq (pictured), who plans to major in environmental studies at Tufts University.

Good evening students, families, friends, teachers, staff, and all listeners tuning in from New Haven and beyond. Thank you to WYBC for providing me with this platform to share my message and to the staff at Metro who made this amazing opportunity possible. Thank you to my friends, family, and teachers who have shaped me into the person I am today, helped me thrive, and of course helped me get to this point. I am so honored to be Metropolitan Business Academy’s Class of 2020 Valedictorian.

Four years ago, I was filled with the unease of starting my next chapter of schooling in a new environment after spending Kindergarten through 8th grade at one school. It was a new experience for all of us, coming from dozens of different schools and cities, and knowing maybe a handful of people upon our arrival. But my, how we’ve all grown! We went from shakily reading our monologues in Dramatic Arts class to confidently presenting business plans in Entrepreneurship. Beyond academics, we have also developed our own unique identities and personal goals. It’s been a beautiful thing to watch us all grow as students and as people.

My peers, I know this isn’t the ideal way we hoped to spend our last months together. However, that does not take away from our achievement of this huge milestone and all the hard work we’ve put in these past years to earn our diplomas. I also want to emphasize that our achievements outside of school prove our personal growth and maturity as we phase into adulthood. Some of us got our first jobs, got our licenses and saved up to buy a car, got that internship we really wanted, put countless hours into becoming strong athletes, took college classes, or managed school while taking care of siblings or dealing with mental health. Each and every one of us has something to feel proud of accomplishing, and we should all give ourselves a pat on the back.

Nothing in life is permanent, and perhaps a lesson we can all take away from the unfortunate end to our school year is to always savor the moment and appreciate where you are in life. One day in early March we were waking up early to catch the bus and go about high school lives as usual, and the next, we shared our last time together as a class without knowing it. I wish I could say goodbye properly to you all as we head down our different paths, but even though our time was taken away, what cannot be stripped from us are the memories that we hold, and the individual lessons we’ve learned along the way.

I’ll miss Ms. Carmen’s welcoming smile in the main office, crafting at the library Maker Space, dine-in lunch trips to Cody’s with friends, hopping on the city bus for impromptu trips downtown after school, and of course my clubs including GSA. I’ll even miss Mr Moseley’s daily chant of “let’s go folks” to hurry us out of the cafeteria, the unreliable and loud school bell, the exhausting journey of climbing the stairs from the first to fourth floor. I know you were probably tired of my never-ending advocacy on climate change, energy efficiency, food waste, and recycling, but I thank you all for always listening to and respecting my message. I will never forget my teachers who went beyond the curriculum to introduce real-world applications and opportunities to me, helped amplify my climate activist efforts whenever I wanted to share something, and treated my name and pronouns with care and respect as I came out as transgender in 2018. You have forever made an impact on me, and I admire your work as educators and student advocates very much.

Last but certainly not least, I want to use this moment to acknowledge that as graduating seniors, we’ve spent high school between 2016 and 2020 going through some very turbulent years of unrest and injustice in our country. We are living in the midst of a revolution, and a truly pivotal point in our history in addressing racial justice and systemic inequality in all its forms. Young people have always been at the forefront of organizing and demanding change for as long as there’s been movements, and I want to remind you that we do have a say in our shared reality and future. As a generation, we are brilliant, informed, and powerful. We have the power and opportunity to make a change in this world, and it is up to you how and if you wish to exercise your voice.

Whether it’s reforming the criminal justice system, tackling climate change, or finding cures for diseases, I am rooting for you all and I’m so excited to see what you accomplish. What lies ahead is yours to define, and I wish you the best in your future endeavors. Congratulations Class of 2020, we made it! And make sure you go vote this year. Thank you.

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