WARREN, Mich. – Valedictorian Joseph Edmund Schaeffer is one of 10 De La Salle Collegiate seniors to post the graduation trifecta – National Honor Society, Summa Cum Laude, and being a Michigan Competitive Scholarship qualifier.
Schaeffer, who is on the Pilots baseball team this spring, plans to attend Michigan State University in the fall.
Here is his speech from Monday’s 91st commencement ceremony in school history:
“When I look back at my time at De La Salle, there are many memories that have shaped these amazing four years. These include:
– Witnessing four different state championships.
– Learning about the fundamental theorem of calculus, which I am sure everyone here clearly remembers from their time in high school.
– Winning spirit week not once, but twice.
– Finally defeating Coach Schypinski in two-ball after four painful years of losing to him.
“While all these moments were special, the most important part of my time at De La Salle has been forming relationships that will last for life. These relationships have provided me with the support necessary during high school in order for me to develop into the man I am today. I formed these bonds with a couple different groups of people, and I would like to acknowledge each of them here tonight.
“First, I would like to focus on the importance of the relationships I have formed with my teachers. These connections extend beyond the classroom, as they have allowed me to not only grow as a student, but also as a person. There’s Mr. Kirck, who would always proofread my essays and talk with me about baseball. Mr. Novak, who would provide our class with practice AP calc tests during lunch, while also teaching us how to get buckets in IM basketball. Mrs. Meier, who was the chillest teacher in the school, as she was always understanding when it came to cooperating with us students and our busy schedules.
“And of course, there’s ‘Saint’ Berlin, who genuinely cared about each and every student in our class, as he always set a great example for how to act as a man in today’s society. These teachers are just a few of the many who have touched my life at De La Salle. The staff as a whole deserves the utmost respect for all that they have done for the school community, as they have played a pivotal role in both my development and the development of my fellow classmates. For their efforts, I am forever grateful.
“Next, I would like to highlight my relationships with the students at De La Salle. During these years, there have been a couple groups of students who I have formed especially strong bonds with. One such group is my baseball teammates.
“We have experienced everything together, from 6 a.m. workouts in the winter, to long bus rides to road games, to chirping the opposing team. Witnessing the hard work of these guys each and every day always served as motivation for me to become better as a player. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to play for this program and I look forward to making one final run together in the state playoffs.
“Another important group is my close friends. We had so many great memories, from Lebron vs. Jordan arguments at the lunch table, to chilling playing 2K on the weekends, to all the inside jokes making fun of each other. With you guys by my side, there was never a dull moment. Staying with the theme of friends, I can’t forget my best friend, my brother Ryan. It’s amazing how far we have come, from arguing over wiffle ball in the front yard as little kids, to being the only brother tandem in the two-ball tournament this year. Our friendship will only continue to grow, as I look forward to you visiting me on the weekends next year at Michigan State.
“And finally, to address the class of 2019 as a whole. We have been the class of change at De La Salle, as we have had a new schedule every year and even experienced a change in the advisory program this year. A weaker group of young men would have allowed this to ruin our senior year and tear our class apart. Because of our strong brotherhood, however, we embraced these new challenges, and have left our great school in better shape for the future. I am thankful to have undertaken this journey with such a great group of guys, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact that the class of 2019 makes on our community.
“Now, to the most important bond in my life: my relationship with my parents, Lee and Nancy. In case anyone here is unaware, attending De La Salle costs a little bit of money. My parents could easily have sent me to a public school and bought themselves a fancy car or a big house. Instead, they valued providing me with a Catholic education, as they made my future and success their No. 1 priority. Their support, however, extends beyond just sending me to De La Salle. From never putting any pressure on me to finish as valedictorian, to staying patient with me and my indecisiveness when choosing a college, to always showing 100 percent confidence in my abilities even when I doubted myself. Through all of this, your love has remained constant. You have taught me that the most important job of being a parent is to provide a better life for your children. You have far exceeded this role, as I would not have developed into the man I am today without the strong foundation you have given me. I am so lucky to call you two my mom and dad and I love you for all that you do. I would like to take this time for all of us students to give our parents and families a round of applause for the sacrifices they have made for each and everyone of us.
“In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the entire class of 2019 on their graduation, and I wish you all the best of luck in the future. Go Pilots!”