Words from our Valedictorian and Salutatorian

Daniel Adair - Valedictorian Speech

Thank you Mr. Frerking, and thank you parents, teachers, staff, and loved ones for joining us on this memorable occasion. Here we are, after four long yet very fast years, we’ve finally made it to graduation day. I have sat through more than my fair share of these ceremonies before, with five older siblings, but until today, I haven’t fully understood the excitement and buzz around this event. Today is a day filled with joy as we celebrate our accomplishments here at Concordia, but graduation is also a bittersweet occasion as we move on from four of the best years of our lives thus far. There are certainly greater years ahead for all of us, but today we take time to look back on our time at Concordia and what made it so special.

At the end of this ceremony, we’ll go out to greet those who have come to support us today. Without their support, both today and throughout our time in high school, none of this would be possible. I would like to thank my parents, grandparents, and the rest of my family for their constant love and encouragement. I would also like to thank my friends, who made high school seem worthwhile day to day, which gave me motivation to wake up and come to school every morning; well, my friends and my alarm clock. As we leave Concordia, much of our lives will change, but the friendships we have made here will not be lost.

There’s a lot I’m going to miss about this place; the things that make Concordia unique and special, from the cage around the gym to the outstanding teachers, who take the time and effort necessary to develop meaningful relationships with their students. Even with the most boring topics, they found a way to keep classes engaging. A great example of this was Mr. Geischen’s solo performance of the Wizard of Oz during Biology freshman year, which was just as entertaining as it was confusing. Teachers are what make Concordia so special because they truly care for all their students. There are also some things I won’t miss, like galaxy pizza and when my parking spot gets taken before school.

We have all grown and learned so much at Concordia, developing skills that will assist us in our future endeavors, and some that probably won’t, but hey, at least I’ll never forget that Juneau is the capital of Alaska. Concordia has strengthened me in many ways that go beyond the classroom. Academically, I have become a better student. Physically, Concordia has pushed me to reach my athletic goals and potential in cross country and track through our excellent coaches, who are more committed to developing the people they coach than they are to winning. Spiritually, I have been able to grow in my faith alongside my classmates. This growth and change has prepared us for the challenges that we are set to face as we move forward.

Take a second to think back on how much change we have all experienced in our time at Concordia. We’ve come a long way from the awkward icebreaker games four years ago at the freshman retreat. As we take our next steps in life, the one constant will be change, and with change will undoubtedly come adversity. As we seek courage to face the change that is to come in our life, remember what God says in Jeremiah 19:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” We have overcome some unique challenges throughout the last four years, from a pandemic to homework burdens that seemed overwhelming at times. Despite these challenges, we are here today because God had a plan for us. We can confidently enter our next pursuits with the assurance that God has a plan for our future.

Fellow classmates, we are students, we are athletes, we are friends, and most importantly, we are children of God. As you move forward in life, use the unique gifts that God has granted each and every one of you. One of my favorite quotes is from American author, H. Jackson Brown Jr.. He said, “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” And yes, tomorrow is May 30th, but in this quote, tomorrow is also much more. Tomorrow is God’s next calling in your life. It may be college, the military, the work force, or a variety of other things. Tomorrow will take many different forms throughout your life as your dreams and aspirations evolve. Do not let fear or anxiety in the present hold you back from what is to come. Confidently enter the next chapter of your life knowing that Concordia has prepared you for tomorrow, and continue to use the wonderful gifts that God has given you and He will lead you according to His Plan for your life. Congratulations to each of you and God’s blessings on your life as you move forward.

Nolan Labahn - Salutatorian Speech 

Welcome parents, students, teachers, administrators, members of the board, and guests to the Concordia Lutheran High School Class of 2022 graduation. Now, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Nolan Labahn, and apparently, I have to give a speech today. But first, I want to thank all the people who have gotten me here. So, thank you to my family- my parents, brother, grandparents, and everyone else- all of you guys kept me on the right path and loved and supported me. Thank you also to all the teachers and staff who guided us in our education, cared for us, and worked extremely hard to adapt to the circumstances of COVID. Most of all, thank you to God for blessing me with this opportunity and for blessing me with all the experiences and gifts that have shaped who I am today. Finally, and most importantly, thank you to Sal Khan and John Green from Khan Academy and Crash Course on YouTube for carrying my grades. 

Seniors, 4 years ago we all entered Concordia Lutheran High School for the first time. It’s been a long 4 years, and for those of us who took AP classes, it’s been a really long 4 years. We began school as nervous and anxious freshmen, unsure of ourselves. Now, we’re still unsure of ourselves, but at least we know that mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. I think it’s safe to say that our 4 years of high school did not come without challenges. We survived hot days without air conditioning for 2 years, attempted to sneak past student services while not in dress code, and faced countless dreaded finals, projects, and AP tests. And, of course, the biggest challenge we all faced, the elephant in the room, something a lot of you are probably thinking about right now, was… trying to break our quarantine TikTok addictions. But, in all actuality, we faced a pandemic that totally flipped our way of life. COVID-19 decimated not only our whole nation but the entire world, leading to a huge loss of human life, as well as immense economic and social disruption. Included in this disruption is the challenge COVID posed to our traditional system of learning. This challenge was certainly manageable compared to the larger challenges COVID posed to millions of people, but still a challenge nonetheless. Despite this, we endured. Not only that, but we also conquered. We conquered the complicated world of quarantine and Zoom. We conquered the trials of online assignments and tests (shoutout Quizlet). We conquered the challenge of wearing masks and taking extra precautions against COVID. And here we are today. So, I applaud everyone in this room for working through such a massive challenge. As the world-renowned philosopher Drake once said, “We started from the bottom now we’re here.” And we are here. We’re about to graduate. 

But we’re not done yet. We are only just beginning the rest of our lives. So, I want to implore all of you, whatever you’re doing after high school, to make a mark on the world. Many people tell us to follow our dreams and seek greatness. But what really is greatness? Many of us probably think of greatness as material success. But greatness is more than that. Greatness can be achieved by being a light in the lives of the people around you each day. Greatness can be achieved by bettering the world through volunteering and donating your God-given gifts. Greatness can be achieved by striving for it, taking advantage of the opportunities God provides each of us in life. And, most importantly, greatness can be achieved by anyone. So, seniors, as you leave this building today and take your next big step in life, keep greatness in mind. Remember the gifts that God has given each and every one of you, seek out the opportunities He presents, and pursue greatness in His glory. Class of 2022, I wish all of you the best in your future. Thank you.