Eighth grade class president’s moving-up speech: We started with exploding binders, ended ready for high school


Eighth grade class president Victor Chang gave his speech at the class’s middle school graduation.

Hello everyone, I am Victor Chang, and I am the student government president of Pelham Middle School.

Congratulations to the class of 2019!

Today is a day of celebration for all of us, but it is also a final parting to our middle school lives, a farewell to a vibrant community of teachers and staff who have dedicated their lives to imparting valuable knowledge that we will effortlessly forget over summer vacation.

We could not have done it without your support.

I would like to give a special thank you to Mr. Acocella and Ms. Grossman, who have both brought student government to life and gave me the opportunity to experience the rewards of civic service.

Three years ago, when we were still fresh out of fifth grade, we all entered the middle school for one reason: We were legally compelled to. I still remember when it all began. I was barely buoyant in a sloshing ocean of fresh faces, anxious for my first day of middle school to begin.

My first clumsy attempts at opening my locker ended in failure and multiple kicks at the locker’s metal door. I got lost on my way to homeroom. My binder hurtled to the floor and exploded in an atomic blast of freshly bought looseleaf.

Yet, I wasn’t the only one beating my locker, anxiously pacing the hallway looking for my class or reassembling an exploded binder. For everyone in our grade, adapting to middle school was a struggle, a jarring contrast to our previous six years of elementary school. It took awhile before any of us felt normal again.

But gradually, we made peace with our lockers. We stopped getting lost in the hallways. The paper scattering binder explosions became rarer, though have never fully disappeared.

Most importantly, we grew as students, as friends and as human beings. My English teacher, Mr. Chimento, captured this perfectly in a quote that I will share with you today. “Maturity is like a road. Everyone goes at different speeds, but we all are going to the same place.” If I were to continue this metaphor, I would have to say that in eighth grade, I had a flat tire.

As our time in the middle school concludes, we are forced to look towards the future and ask ourselves: “What do I want to do with my life?”

It’s a question that takes a special kind of courage and conviction to answer. It has triggered countless midlife crises and comedic episodes of teen angst.

And, of course, there’s an app that answers it for you. I’m serious. Some turtleneck wearing STEM major in Silicon Valley actually created a computer program that tells you what to do with your life. And following in the great lineage of iPhones, iPads and other gizmos whose names begin with i, it’s called the iNeedLifeAdvice.

I’m kidding; it’s called Naviance. We used this program in our technology classes this year, and the results were, interesting.

While others got such lofty, respectable positions as artist, businessman or engineer, I got pinned as a telemarketer.

You gotta wonder what criteria I filled to get that one…

Evidently, robots are not the best at charting the course of our lives. But, in defense of our digital life coaches, I doubt that anyone at Pelham Middle School can say with absolute certainty, “When I grow up, I want to do this!

Honestly, that question—“What do you want to do when you grow up?”—it reminds me of that song “Old Town Roads” in the sense that it’s everywhere, and I am numb from hearing it. I mean, I get it. It’s a standard, small-talk question for adults struggling to find any mutual interests to discuss with a child whose neck is at a 90 degree angle playing Fortnite Mobile on his smartphone. But really, nearly no one has a clue what they want to be when they reach adulthood.

Heck, the closest thing I have to an answer is this: When I grow up, I want to be retired!

As difficult as that question can be, each and every one of us will eventually have to determine our individual paths in life.

Of course, we are just graduating middle school. We still have four more years in high school, where we will be exposed to even more opportunities for self-discovery, whether that be in one of the many available electives or dizzying number of afterschool clubs. There’s computer science class for the Mark Zuckerbergs of tomorrow, stock club for the successors of Warren Buffett and the Dungeons and Dragons club for future directors of “Game of Thrones.”

Point is, high school will be a time for us to discover our passions, take risks and push boundaries.

To the parents who will be on the receiving end of such boundary pushing, I, on behalf of my fellow miscreants, do sincerely apologize. Don’t worry; it’ll stop when the hormones flush out of our systems.

Next year will bring huge changes to our lives, but I am confident that we are up to the task. After all, we have been preparing for three years for this occasion, and some of us already have grades on our transcripts from high school-level math, science and foreign language courses.

We can handle it, no sweat. I meant that figuratively, of course. Man, am I gonna miss the nice cool air conditioning in middle school. As our path leads us forward to high school, as we give our final farewell to a community that has watched us mature and thrive for three years and, yes, as we say goodbye to the AC, we will never forget all that this school has done for us.

So, as the last days, and the last hours of middle school, tick away, I can say with confidence, We are ready for what comes next. We are ready to enjoy our well-earned summer vacation. We are ready to forget our summer reading until a week before Labor Day. And ultimately, we are ready for high school. Thank you.

Victor Chang was class president of the eighth grade. He gave this address at the Pelham Middle School moving-up ceremony.