By Katie LifseySalutatorian, LCCHSFellow graduates, faculty, friends and family:First and foremost, congratulations class of 2009. I know each and every one of us has worked hard to be here today, finally receiving that which we’ve worked so hard for over the past 12 years: a diploma.We’ve pushed through tough personal times, dealt with being picked on, not fitting in, lower than optimal financial support and possibly worst of all, advanced algebra and trigonometry class ‘“ but we made it.I can’t express how proud I am so many of my friends and classmates are sharing this day with me. This is one of the most important days in our lives. It is a day of happiness, joy, and pride, but also one of tears, for this could very well be one of the last times we see some of the faces that have surrounded us for such a long period of our lives.I’d like to thank a few people. First, my parents, and all of the parents with us today. Without your guidance and support, some of us would not have made it here. I’d like to thank all of the friends and family members joining us and celebrating this day with us after all of the encouragement you’ve offered us throughout the years.Thanks to all of our teachers and administrators. Our school is the best it can be because of all the hard work you’ve put in to making these past years amazing. Lastly, thanks to my classmates. We’ve all helped each other at one point or another and I’m glad to see everyone here today.The class of 2009 is special. We’re so diverse and talented. We’ve got Travis, who may be small but can take out a guy twice as tall as him when he wants to. And Quenton Matthews, to whom singing comes as naturally as breathing. We have Jeremy, Derek and Daniel, who will show up at our class reunion as rock stars, and Bobby Banks as a famous singer. We even have our own blanket-loving, singing and dancing Linus, better known as Thommy Harless.The class of 2009 is certainly unique and I think the school will realize exactly how involved and important we were to the organizations here.After today, and of course a well-deserved summer break, we’ll all go on to the next part of our lives. Whether that is college or a job or whatever other path we may choose to take, we are embarking on the first part of our life where our parents aren’t looking over our shoulders constantly and our teachers aren’t barking at us to tuck in our shirts and unzip our jackets.This will be a major step for us: Independence. Some rejoice, some cower. It’s a scary thing to me and I’d like to ask all of my fellow graduates to make smart decisions for themselves and not just to please others. To do what is best for their future. To be safe. To live honestly. To stay out of trouble. To take responsibility for everything you do. To learn from whatever unfortunate mistakes you may make. To never forget the people who have made your life better and improve the lives of others whenever possible. To set high goals, and work hard to achieve them. But most of all, to appreciate the opportunities the future holds for you and never let them slip by.I’m going to miss everyone so much. I’ve spent my entire life here in Barnesville, and I can’t imagine what it will be like when I don’t get to wake up every morning and see my friends, to see my family. Things are going to change. I hope only good things come to all of us here, but those things that are not so great only build you into a stronger, better person. I can truly say each and every one of you is valuable. You’ve all shaped me into who I am, and I’m grateful for that.In the words of Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss: ‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.’Good luck, class of 2009. Stay safe, work hard, and embrace the future. You only get to live once, so make it worthwhile.