Brown, Morefield are top two PHS graduates
The Portageville graduation class of 2017 heard speeches from both Valedictorian Emily Brown and Salutatorian Tayler Morefield.
After a brief introduction by High School Principal Jeff Bullock they each delivered their speeches. Speeches are below:
Good evening, and thank you all for joining us in celebrating the graduating class
of 2017. It is incredibly humbling to be standing before you today as a representative of
my class, and I wanna begin by showing my gratitude to the people who helped get me
here. I'd like to thank all of the teachers and faculty members who I've gotten to know
over the years and have worked hard to prepare me and many others for the future. My
parents and sister, who have shown me what unconditional love is since the day I was
born. My step family who have taken me in as one of their own, and have come all the
way from Louisiana to celebrate this milestone with me. My absolute best friend in the
world, Emily Brown, for being by my side everyday since Kindergarten, and for teaching
me how to do chemistry. And lastly, I'd like to thank Myles Stafford for being my better
half, and for putting up with me for three years even when he had to listen to me
complain everyday about how much homework I had.
At the beginning of my senior year, there was one thought in my head that
predominantly rose above all others. "I cannot wait to get out of here". I was so excited
to leave my hometown, to get that taste of freedom we as seniors so desire. I was
thrilled at the idea of living the adult life, coming and going as I please in a place that
had no limitations. At about halfway through the year however, I realized something-I
don't wanna grow up. I had taken for granted the town I spent eighteen long years in,
and how it molded me into the person I am today. But, the passage of time is inevitable,
and with it, we must move on, so, I'd like to take a minute to share with you a few of the
things I'll miss the most about Portageville.
I'm gonna miss the quiet. Those lazy Sunday afternoons when you would go out
for a drive to the levee to relax and let the weight of the world falloff your shoulders.
The sun would be shining on ~our face, the wind blowing in your hair, and you would
experience a feeling of freedom that is hard to put into words. It was days like these,
with your windows down and the smell of fresh cut grass, that made you feel invincible.
I'm gonna miss the charm of this town. How you almost always receive a wave
and a smile from the person you pass on the road, and how, at any given time, you
could see tractors at the four-way and you wouldn't think twice about it. The many,
seemingly endless fields of cotton that look like snow in July are visible anywhere you
look, and the rustic, do-it-yourself mentality that filled so many minds here always
managed to put a smile on my face.
I'm gonna miss the sense of community here. In Portageville, you either know
everyone by name, or you know who they're related to. You gave directions not by
street names but by certain people's houses. The whole town comes together for events
like Football Friday's and the Homecoming parade, bonding over our love for the
Bulldogs and the sense of hometown pride. Even if you weren't into sports, you'd still
come to watch just for that feeling.
I'm gonna miss my class. These are the same people that I've grown up with
since I could barely walk on my own two feet. They are the classmates who I swear
would get on my last nerves, but would have me laughing with tears streaming down my
face the next second. The people I've sang along with at pep assemblies, cheered
along with at games, and lived along with for twelve years.
Lastly, I'm gonna miss my friends. I'll never forget those nights we spent riding
around town aimlessly blaring 2000's pop music just because. Or the several nights we
warmed ourselves around bonfires, listening to music from the car we pulled onto the
grass, and having heart-to-hearts. You guys gave me something to look forward to at
eight o'clock in the morning, and I'll miss the liberty of seeing you guys everyday at
school, because soon enough we'll be miles apart.
When all's said and done, I'm very blessed to have been raised in a place like
Portageville. This is the town that built me from the ground up. I met my best friends
here, fell in love here, learned to drive here, graduated here, and so much more. It has
shaped me in so many ways and given me ceaseless opportunities. From this lesson I
learned earlier in this year, I have taken away two things from it-I will always be proud
to call this town home, and I will always bleed blue. Thank you.
On behalf of the class of 2017, I would like to welcome family, friends, faculty, staff, and
school board members to the Portageville High School commencement ceremony.
Before we get started, I would like to take a moment to thank those who have supported
me during my education these last four years. First, I would like to thank my yearbook sponsor,
Ms. Ellen Burton. She has always been one of my biggest supporters, and was always on board
f~)f all of my crazy ideas. Not to mention, she never complained too loudly when I ate all her
peanut M&M's everyday, so for that I'm grateful. I would also like to thank Coach Bullock, Mrs.
Day, and all the faculty who I feel work so hard to ensure that everyone has their best shot at
success. Lastly, I would like to thank my entire family for coming out to support me today,
especially my mom and dad ... of all the friends and teachers I've had in my life, you two have
been the best. Thank you both.
Growing up in such a small, tight-knit community is both a blessing and a curse. It is a
blessing because our class has grown up together, bound by the twelve plus years we have
spent getting to know just about everything there is to know about each other, right down to one
another's biggest pet peeve, which the boys in our class really love to take advantage of. The
memories we make aren't limited to just one person or one clique, as word spreads pretty
quickly at PHS. For example, when we had a waffle party in Ms. Watson's English class
freshman year, each English teacher after couldn't help give into the pressure after hearing
about it, at risk of no longer being our favorite. Or how our status as "Big, Bad Seniors" was
destroyed after getting beat by the freshman, and everyone else in our first annual dodgeball
tournament. In addition to this, the community we live in is so supportive of us. The downfall of
living in a small town is when one of the town policemen sees you accidentally make a rolling
stop, they call your momma, which is a lot more scary than getting a ticket.
When I first sat down to write this speech, I was absolutely clueless about what to say.
So, like any other high school student in my situation, I Googled "valedictorian speeches." The
exercise proved largely useless, with the exception that I came up with a list of the top 10
phrases NOT to use in a graduation speech. For example, one should NEVER mention that
"This isn't the end, it's a new beginning." Or the most commonly used statement in graduation
speeches across the country, "We are the future." Although both of those cliches hold some
truth, as all cliches invariably do, I'm gonna take Google's advice and go in a different direction.
I know little about what the future holds; that is up to each of you to determine. Instead, let me
share with you some of my hopes for you, Class of 2017.
I HOPE you get the chance to discover your passion. What, at your inner core, fulfills
you unlike anything else. Is your passion art and you're an amazing painter like Courtney? Is
your passion music, and you want to be a famous rapper like and I quote "Pele the Dog"??? Is it
reading, writing, singing, traveling? Whatever it is, in the chaos that is daily life, set aside time to
do and discover the things you love. My mom said something the other day that really stuck with
me. She said "when you go to college, experience everything it has to offer, as that will be the
only time in your entire life that it will be completely about you." She continued by saying how
these first 18 years of our lives, most of us have lived with our parents or other close family
members. They've pretty well dictated what we do and how we live. After college, if you choose
to get married and start a family, your life will become centered around your spouse and
children. So, these next few years should be completely and unapologetically about finding
My second hope for you is that you strive to be open to people, ideas, and opinions
different than your own. Coming from such a small place in the big, wide world, we have little
idea of what's out there, the diversity that awaits. It is our obligation to society to meet and get to
know people whose world views are radically different from our own. In doing so, we will
experience the variety and richness of life. We will learn more about how the world works and
what makes people tick. Our world will be transformed. But equally important, we will transform
someone else's world. When you encounter someone who sees the world through a different
lens, take it as an opportunity. Ask questions. Try to understand where they're coming from, and
be open to their ideas. Be respectful of others' values, but also stand firm in your own.
And my last hope, is that you get to experience the best that life has to offer; and the
way to ensure that you fulfill this is to right now, in this solitary and monumental moment, to
commit to the journey, not to the outcome. The outcome is always elusive. If you worship
money, you'll never have enough. You'll compare yourself to others who have more than you,
and you'll always feel poor. If you worship your own beauty and self-image, you'll always feel
ugly. You'll die a thousand deaths over the course of your life as age and wrinkles and the
gradual breakdown of our bodies takes it toll. If you worship power, you'll always feel weak. You
will begin searching for more and more just to keep the fear from overtaking you, and never be
Instead, commit to growing just a little bit each day. If we strive to learn a little more, to
be a little more compassionate, to love our fellow human beings a little more, we will see the
fruits of our efforts sooner than we think.
So here we are at the end of our high school journey with our whole lives ahead of us.
But graduates, take a minute to notice those people sitting beside you, in front of you, behind
you, all around. Right now, these people are your classmates, your best friends, your Friday
night passenger seat drivers, and your Saturday morning breakfast dates. These people, right
now are your home, your family. Soon, most of us will be going' our separate ways, and life
might take us apart. But no matter where we go, no matter where our futures take us, we will
always have a home here, in these people around us that mean the most. Don't fret over the
future, for as of now, in this exact moment, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we
leave behind." C.S. Lewis
Good Luck and God Bless, Class of 2017.