33 thirty three
I stood at the podium, looking at the faces of my classmates, my fellow seniors and graduates. My hands were shaking and I gripped the sides of the podium to steady my hands.
"Good morning to all the teachers, parents, guests and fellow graduates. We now stand in the school grounds for the last time as students. Once we leave the gates we have been passing by everyday for the past few months, we're no longer in high school . What will happen? We do not know. We will go to college, go our separate ways, find new friends, create new bonds, discover new relationships.
But we would always look back to our Alma mater, the place that honed our talents, brought out the artists in us, the genius in us, the athletes in us. The place where we found our second family, the friends that we would keep for life, the relationships we found. Yes, there were misunderstandings, heartbreaks and failures but those experiences we will bring as we enter another chapter in our lives.
Above all, we would always remember the laughter, the smiles of our classmates, the seatmates that we secretly crush on." I earned a few oohhss from the crowd. "The lessons we thought we understood but failed the exam miserably. "
Laughter erupted from the graduates. "You know I'm right."
I paused and looked at Rick who was smiling proudly in his seat.
"In this school we found ourselves, we gained our confidence, our footing, so that we can march proudly towards new challenges, new beginnings and our new lives. To the classmates, friends and my loved ones, with our heads held high,. "
I removed my cap from my head.
"As this year's class valedictorian, I salute all our teachers and families, and I salute ourselves. We are the graduates of class 2020. "
The graduates stood up and graduation caps filled the air and applause echoed in the gym.
That was a great speech, mom kissed the top of my head. The graduation ceremony was over but the gym was still full of students giving friends and families last goodbyes and taking photos.
Dad put an arm around me and Mom. "Let's go take a picture."
Janet, still stifling, trying not to cry, snapped a photo of us.
"Hi guys." Rick appeared behind us.
"Hi son. " Dad greeted him. Seeing them together, in good terms made my heart melt.
"Hey" he walked to me and gave me a swift kiss in the lips. "Can I borrow a moment of your time?"
I looked at mom and dad. "Go. Just be home in time for dinner. "
"I'll see to it. " It was Rick who responded as he wrapped my hands in his.
"What's up?" I asked as I followed him out of the gym.
Then I noticed Raymond, talking to someone, and I knew instantly what Rick wanted.
"Mom, he's Alvin"
His mom was like a female version of Raymond, soft features, small built, like 5ft, and a very beautiful smile like sunshine.
She gave me a warm hug and kissed me on the cheeks. "I'm so sorry if my stupid ex husband was mean to you." She whispered softly.
I gave her a weak smile. "So you're ok with this? With us?"
"Whoever makes my son happy, I'm all for it."