Senior Speech: Dylan Paracka

Click above to check out our ThingLink, an interactive look at senior Dylan Paracka’s speech in assembly on Nov. 16, 2015.

When I started thinking about this speech, I had no idea what to write. I kept on thinking about what I should tell you to do. I couldn’t come up with anything. So instead, I’ll give y’all advice on what not to do.

First, don’t let the expectations of others define who you are.

When I came to Darlington, everyone either asked me if I was   a dorm student or “Shan’s brother”. Just to clarify: no I am not a dorm student, but yes I am his brother. A lot of people expected me to act like Shan. Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother, I look up to him in many ways, we have a lot of the same interests and we even look alike. But we are completely different, and there was no way that I was going to let how my brother acted define how I would act.

Everyone has expectations of us.

Our parents expect us to make perfect grades, to behave, to give a good senior speech… Our friends and peers expect us to dress a certain way, to do certain things, to play certain sports… Don’t let these expectations deter you from doin you. Just because you’re a football player, doesn’t mean you can’t be in the winter musical. If you’re on the soccer academy, don’t think that you’re just here for soccer. If you are an artist, you can also take BC Calc. If you are the valedictorian, don’t think that you can’t play baseball. And you know who expects the most of us? Darlington. Darlington expects us to not drink, to be honorable, to follow all the rules…

Which brings me to my next point: don’t follow all the rules. Do you know how many words are in the student handbook? About 30,000! The US Constitution only has 4,500 words. That’s a lot of rules we are expected to know and follow. If you follow all those rules, you are going to look back and remember high school as boring, strict, rigid…whatever. So instead, live a little. Grab some buds and make some memories with them, even if you bend the rules, because I guarantee you’ll remember it even more if you do. Leave for lunch during the day, go out on a school night, take a weeklong college leave to Athens. The few years we are here might seem like a long time, but it really does fly by. Enjoy yourself while you still can. But please don’t be dumb about it; don’t get anyone hurt because of what you do. Hold yourself accountable and hold yourself to a standard that represents you, because you actions will speak for you. Project yourself in a way that will be remembered, especially if you are breaking the rules.

My last piece of advice is: don’t accept defeat. I think it’s pretty safe to say that we have all failed at some point. Last year, I scored an own goal during the quarterfinals of the state soccer tournament. Last week I failed a Calc Test. We lost that soccer game 2 – 7, and the uncurved average of that test was a 75… Not exactly what you would call a dominant performance from anyone. But, I still feel awful when I think about those, I still hold myself accountable for MY actions, and you can bet that I will make sure that neither of those ever happens again. Failure is the ultimate motivator. We need to take the losses and make ourselves better. We must learn from our defeat and through that process succeed. In the words of Ernest Hemingway “Man is not made for defeat”.

Finally, I’d like to take a second to say thank you to a couple of people. To my parents for sacrificing so much for me. To my friends for making the last four years the best ever. To my teachers for putting up with me and helping me through class. To Darlington for shaping me into the person I am today. And to all of you, for listening to this speech and making senior year one to remember.

Thank you.