1997 Graduation Speech

*"I Am Part of All That I Have Met"

Paul W. Draper

* Quote by: Alfread Lord Tennyson

Ever since I was a little kid I didn't want to be me. I wanted to be Billy Widdleton. And

Billy Widdleton didn't even like me.

I walked like he walked. I talked like he talked. I bought Gerbaux because he did. I even signed up for the same high school he signed up for...

Which was when Billy Widdleton started to change. He began to hang around Herby Vandeman.

He walked like Herby Vandeman. He talked like Herby Vandeman.

He really mixed me up! All of a sudden I found myself walking and talking like Billy Widdleton walking and talking like Herby Vandeman.

And then it dawned on me that Herby Vandeman was walking talking like Joey Haverlin, and Joey Haverlin was walking and talking like Corky Sabinson.

So here I am walking and talking like Billy Widleton's imitation of Herby Vandeman's version of Joey Haverlin trying to walk like Corky Sabanson.

And who do you think Corky Sabanson is always walking and talking like? Of all people - dopey Kenny Wellington - KENNY WELLINGTON!

That little pest who walks and talks like me.?.

The nineteen ninety six graduation quote, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. "I am a part of all that I have met". Me, I am, Paul Draper, a part of everybody. That's a mouth full. Well I'm not sure if I buy that. I look at Shahene Pezeshki and I see how he has influenced me. How John Lebarron and Josh Fitgerald have changed me. I see how Tom Green and Nate Meier and Aaron Reed affect those around them and have an impact, and how they are a part of all they have met. But to say that I am. That's a huge responsibility to take on. I have to admit that I'm important that I might make difference a that I exist (and that's one thing Mr. Vandeevegate can't do). What a huge burden on all of our shoulders to admit that we make a difference to everything and everyone we encounter.

There have been times when I haven't realized my potential. when I have been sailing on that boat of life and I look into the water. and all I can see is my reflection starring back at me. I cant see all the fish or plants or colors or life that is constant flow and abundance beneath me. But just because I can't see past my reflection doesn't mean there is no more.

You see, some of my closest friends when looking into a mirror don't see how wonderful they are, their talents their abilities their opportunities, or how much they mean to me. All they see is that zit on their forehead the size of Venus Mercury and Mars combined. But just because they can't see past their reflection doesn't mean there is no more.

It's hard to see past what the mirror sees. Sometimes we look in there shrug and say, well that's all I am.

Can I tell you what I see when I look in the mirror. I'm wonderful, no really I am. Whenever I look into the mirror and I see my pudgy fuzzy little face or my crooked little nose I like it and if ever I think I'm too fat I just look at my wrist because I know its skinny. I know it may be hard to believe and it may be hard to find others like me but I like myself. So am I arrogant? No. Am I self confident? Not always. I have a lot to work on, but I also have a lot to work with.

Why look at me ma, I'm a high school graduation speaker. Its my job to within 3 or so minutes try to change all of your minds, to inspire you. I've been on the debate team for three years and I've never changed anyone's mind, so I'm not going to try to change any of your minds. I'm going to try to tell you something you already know, but might have forgotten. That your a good person! you know that? your a powerful person ya know that. That your a perfect person. you're all perfect people. I know it might seem a little strange to hear me say you're all perfect people. When I went to my friend Enoch and said, "Enoch your a perfect person." he said, "Paul (that's my name "Paul") I'm far from perfect look at my hair look at my grades look at my past girlfriends". Why don't we want to believe in our own perfection? Why don't we want to believe that we are good enough or smart enough or since I'm going down this road Gaul dern it people like us. Why can't we believe that we have made a difference, that we can make a difference, and that it is a wonderful responsibility to take on the fact that we are a part of all that we have met. As Shakespeare once wrote, "Am I not liable to those affections, those joys, grief's, angers, fears, my friend shall suffer? "

If my friend is happy shall I not share in his joy, and if I am sad shall he not share in my woe. We influence each other, we affect each other, we add to each other.

Everyone of us at one time or another has bought pump-up shoes or slap on bracelets; grown out our hair; shaved it or dyed it. Everyone of us has followed a Billy Widdleton or been one. I respect, and admire, and look up to all of you for letting me be in this graduating class. For allowing me be a part of your lives and for being a part of mine. I haven't told most how I feel about you, or how you've added to my life. There isn't enough time for me to name everyone here who has made all the difference to me. But there is not a person in this graduating class who isn't powerful beyond measure. Weather you know that or not, I do. Weather you accept that responsibility or not I will for you.

Alfred Lord Tennison once wrote "I am a part of all I have met" But what he forgot is that they are all a part of me.

Thank you.