Music was on the mind of Michelle Flowers as she stepped onto the stage at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on May 21 to present her speech as the Class of 2009 valedictorian.

Music was on the mind of Michelle Flowers as she stepped onto the stage at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on May 21 to present her speech as the Class of 2009 valedictorian.

"In a way this reminds me of a piece of music," she said to 509 fellow seniors. "Life is made up of many different parts, that together defines what it sounds like, or who we are. Really we all like are own songs."

Each life song is made up of many components, according to Flowers. "Some parts are slow while others are fast."

Flowers, who shared the stage with salutatorian Lisa Kim and Superintendent Dale McVey, said her senior year has been a fast-moving line with many high notes.

Flowers said she would rather sit and listen than give a speech. At the same time, she understood it was her responsibility.

Kim pointed out that after 720 days of sitting in the classroom, the seniors are now all grown up.

"We may have walked in as freshmen, kind of clueless and unsure of who we were or what we were doing," she said. "But sure enough, we were given these amazing opportunities to discover our talents, see what we can accomplish if we push ourselves, or figure out what inspires us."

Kim could not resist borrowing a passage from Walt Emerson.

"'What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us,'" she said. "One of the greatest things high school has granted us is the opportunity to help figure out who we are as individuals and to take off into the world with a greater sense of self."

McVey advised the graduates that whatever they do in life, they should do it with passion and to persevere in their beliefs.

"Not all of life is an easy run," Flowers said. "I'm sure at some time in the last four years you have come across a hardship. I know I have. We've all had points where we just wanted to give up. But here we sit today, and we have overcome those difficult parts of life. Even though those times may seem ugly and we often wish to forget them, they have made each of us who we are today; they have made our songs more unique and beautiful than before. If I have learned anything, it has been to keep going and to keep moving forward, no matter how difficult something seems to be."

Kim said it is important to stay true to oneself and be inspired by the hope of tomorrow.

"'You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore,'" she said, borrowing yet another quote. "Be courageous in embracing all of the chances life grants you and remember to enjoy the journey."

She pointed out that this class will be the last stuffed into the Darby High School building as the district prepares to open a third high school in the fall.

"But now it is time to move on, and start new memories," said Flowers. "This past will fade, and our new lives will start to play."

It is time to start a new part of life and a new song.

"What that tune sounds like will be completely up to you," said Flowers. "You will always remember the tune you sang here, no matter how many high or low notes you have seen. The composition of your song is something to be proud of; each is beautiful. Now it is time to start a new piece and to forget trying to rewrite the old. Today we step across the stage to the beginning of something great, where no notes have been written yet."