Del BeneEarlier this month at my sister’s graduation with the Class of 2014, West Linn students, supervisors and teachers gave the expected speeches to the expectant seniors who sat eagerly in their seats. Four years ago at my brother’s graduation, my seventh-grade self sat in the same packed arena with to witness a similar cycle of speeches and celebration for the graduates.

To be honest, in seventh grade I tuned out the speakers and texted my friend who was sitting across the way, talking about how bored we were. Three years later, towards the end of my sophomore year I had a completely different experience, one that I never really expected. Although I expected the ceremony to be long and dreadful, it wound up to be quite the contrary — excluding the name reading while diplomas were handed out.

As teachers, administrators of West Linn schools and students went up to speak in front of the graduates and their families, each one of them had a message that they wanted to graduates to take with them on their next chapter in life. A high school student myself, I took these speeches and messages into deep consideration. I’m considering them still, weeks after the ceremony.

While the speech topics were all over the board, each was along the lines of following your dreams and keeping up the good work. Each had new, big ideas to offer. It wasn’t necessarily a particular speech that stood out to me among the rest, but more that I gleaned a more personal, deeper meaning from them.

One of the ideas I got out of these speeches was to not live life in a mediocre fashion. What I mean by this is to always be thinking daily, “How I can improve myself and the world I live in?” I mean to always push to be better than you were yesterday, and to never give up on something you have the desire to do, because the effort will pay off in some way or another.

As clichéd as it sounds, these speeches were inspiring and made me want to try harder, not only in life but also in school. As I mentioned in a previous article last month, school isn’t easy for me. Listening to these speeches was essentially a wakeup call to me to never stop trying to continue to improve.

They also made me think about how inspiration is everywhere. It can be as simple as fellow classmates and teachers giving speeches at graduation or the beautiful arrangements of lyrics in a song from your favorite singer. While I’ve never really thought of inspiration as a common theme in daily life, it has proven to be so.

Inspiration is everywhere. Any day. Any time. Any place. Inspiration is what helps us to follow our dreams and try new things, to bring us to positions that we never could have experienced otherwise.

When I first heard about applying to be a student columnist from a teacher my freshman year, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my writing with the community. As my columns for this year are now at an end, I hope that I have brought insight to experiences of a high school l student in West Linn High School and sparked a sense of inspiration to readers.

Jacqueline Del Bene will be a junior at West Linn High School in the fall. She contributed a regular column to the Tidings during the 2013-14 school year.

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