Skill U: 5.4

H. Walker, Von-Windenburg Estate

Week Five, Day Four – Junior Year

Editor’s Note: Honey’s journal entries are numbered according to week and day of the week. As she does not keep daily entries, gaps appear in the numbering. Please see the Table of Contents for the full listing of entries.


“What do you think you’ll write your speech on?” Dr. Dean asked me when we were taking a break during our lesson.

“Speech?” I felt a sudden fear. Was there a requirement in one of my courses I wasn’t aware of?

“Sure!” she said. “Your valedictorian speech!”


“Are you nuts?” I asked.

“Not at all,” she replied. “Think about it. You are a mere point and a half from meeting the requirements to be selected as valedictorian for your class. You’ve mastered the violin, you’ve completed the musical master program, and you’ve befriended the world. All that is left is to increase one more level in guitar and half a level in piano. At the rate you’re going, you’ll do that by the end of this term. So unless you plan on dropping out between now and the end of senior year, you are looking at being the valedictorian, like it or not.”


“So that means I’ll need to give a speech at graduation?”

“That’s the tradition.”


Fortunately, I’ve got plenty of time to decide what I want to say.

I know that, out of gratitude for Dr. Leslie Dean, I want to talk about the value of finding a good mentor. I could never have made it so far so quickly on any of these instruments without her skilled guidance.


I want to talk about the importance of enthusiasm and honesty.

“Don’t seek praise,” I’ll say, or something like that. “Seek instead honest feedback, so you know what stinks about your work and how you can make it better.” Only I don’t think I’ll use the word “stinks.”


I want to say something about how contagious dreams are. Or maybe it’s striving for excellence that’s contagious. At any rate, I’ve noticed that Hugo and Luna have started taking their studies very seriously.

“Maybe I’ll go to college!” Luna said the other day. “I’d love to be a fashion designer, and Honey was telling me how important math is to design. Do you think I’m good at math, Hugo?”

“Well, you’re always earning A’s. And you seem to love it.”


Then the next day, I overheard Hugo say, “You know, I think I’ll go to culinary institute. I’d like to open my own restaurant some day. So a good solid education in the business management of restaurants would be useful, non?”

Mais oui!” said Luna. “And there’s a lot of math in business management.”


Then, one afternoon, Wolfie, one of Max’s Renegade buddies, came by after school.

“Is this what the villainous Max Villareal does after school? His homework? With sissy and bubba? I thought you were the leader of our gang, not some nerdbrain doofus head.”

“It’s a club,” said Max. “Not a gang. And homework is cool. Plus, math is fun.”


“So I’m thinking I should start preparing for college,” Max told his dad that night. “Even if I just take over the family business, I’m still gonna need a good education, right?”


“I think I know some of the points I want to mention,” I told Dr. Dean.

“Good!” she said. “I’m so excited! I’ve never had a student of mine make valedictorian before!”


It feels sort of like a hoop to me–and like this big scary burden waiting out there. But I think I can turn my view around. I think if I just relax and focus on everyone else besides me then maybe I’ll be able to discover what’s really important. And if I can share that, maybe inspiration will flow through my words and touch somebody! I’d rather just play my violin and speak that way, but if I need to speak with my voice, I hope that by the end of my senior year, I’ve found the voice of inspiration, so that when I open my mouth sparks from something greater than me will fly out and everybody catches on fire with the light of dreams!

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