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A memorable journey from New Bern High Salutatorian

My name is Ben Reno and I have the honor of being Salutatorian for New Bern High School class of 2019. On behalf of our class, I want to thank the teachers, staff and administrators of New Bern High School for all their hard work. I want to also thank all the adults who have taught us the importance of life outside the classroom. Finally, and most importantly, I want to thank our families and God for always being there to support us.

Our class has had a memorable journey. We will never forget coming together as a class to support everyone affected by Florence. For all the bad that hurricane caused, working together to help others taught us lessons we will never forget. For me personally, whether it was attending classes, tutoring at Brinson, playing varsity lacrosse, participating in math events, serving in student government, or being with my friends, I will never forget my time at New Bern High. As I get ready to study Statistics and Business at Georgia Tech in the fall, I want to pass along some lessons I learned while preparing my graduation speech.

Jimmy Iovine is a famous record producer who discovered Tupac, Eminem & 50 Cent. At a graduation speech at the University of Southern California, Mr. Iovine said a diploma “is really just our learners permit for the rest of our life.” We each have the same diploma. What we have done to get this diploma doesn’t matter. We are all at the same starting line now. It is where and how we drive from here that is important.  And so, before we began our journey, what are some important lessons to take with us?

The first lesson is from Admiral Bill McRaven. Admiral McRaven is a Navy Seal and was head of Special Forces during the Osama Bin Laden raid.  The Admiral told 8000 graduates at the University of Texas that if they want to succeed in life, “start off by making your bed.” Well, that may sound simple but I know that making your bed is not that easy. But Admiral McRaven explains that we need to do it anyway because making our bed creates a habit of accomplishment.  That it is important to achieve the little things in life. Because if we can’t get the little things right, we will never achieve the big things. So, if we want to succeed in life, let’s start by making our bed.

As we drive through life, sometimes our car will break down. We will then have to walk to get where we want to go. The type of shoes you wear are important if you want to walk far. That leads me to the famous philosopher and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.  Charles said while promoting his new basketball shoes that  “They're good shoes. But they won't make you rich like me, they won't make you rebound like me, they definitely won't make you handsome like me. They'll only make you have shoes like me. That's it.” Now, sometimes Charles can be confusing but here his point is clear. Don’t try to be something we are not. Find what type of person we want to be and work hard to achieve it. Charles tell us don’t wear someone else’s shoes. Wear our own shoes.  

Now on the road of life, sometimes we are so driven that we can forget the purpose of this journey. To help us remember, I have some words of wisdom from the Sausage King of Chicago, also known as Ferris Bueller. Now Ferris said a lot of wise things on his day off but I think that this next quote is the most important. Ferris said that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris believes we must never forget to enjoy life. The purpose of life is to spend time and be there for your friends, family and God.  We must not forget the point of our journey.   

So, as we begin the next phase of our life, we should remember the words of Jimmy Iovine, Admiral McRaven, Charles Barley and Ferris Bueller. Make your bed every day. Wear your own shoes. And most importantly, stop & enjoy life on the way.  If we do all those things, every graduate of the New Bern High School Class of 2019 will have a meaningful and rewarding life. Good luck to us all and God bless.