A Perfect Metaphor for High School


Alli Jepsen and Annie Qiu debated whether a cup of Starbucks or a bowl of rice was the better metaphor for high school.

As valedictorian and salutatorian, Annie Qiu and Alli Jepsen co-wrote and delivered this graduation speech:

Annie: Welcome friends, family, faculty, and class of 2017!!
Alli: Congratulations to each and every one of you.
Annie: I just want to be upfront, it took us a lot of deliberation to come up with the perfect metaphor to describe the past four years. In the end, we agreed that for us high school was a bowl of rice!
Alli: Hold up, Annie, this is definitely not what we discussed. I thought we were going with “High school was a cup of starbucks!”
Annie: Well I’ve been thinking about it, and I decided to go a different direction because the bowl of rice seemed way more obvious! Just look, even right now, everyone is a grain of rice. We’re all wearing the same maroon gowns that obviously correlates to red rice. And sometimes, when red isn’t our style, we all plan to be white rice. Don’t you remember the numerous times we had to dress up for whiteout and then cover ourselves with baby powder? We don’t stray away from the bowl too much especially when we want to root against the other D155 schools. And, we’ll always be united by the fact that we’re the 20th graduating class, and no one else can say that. No one else was in our bowl of rice.
Alli: But we’re all too unique to be a bowl of rice. Once they call all of our names to receive our diplomas, from the Abushammas to the Zhungus and beyond, you’re going to realize just how different we all are. The first time your teacher hands back a paper is the first time the barista hands you your order. You’re baffled by her interpretation of your name, you’ve never seen Alli spelled with three L’s before. For the first few months of high school, your teachers and your peers desperately try to remember your name and how to spell it, and instead call you “that one girl” or “the guy who wears the crazy colored ties”…Connor Pils. But after four years, your classmates and teachers know exactly who you are. When we leave this ceremony to receive our final cup of coffee– our diplomas– you will see your name spelled to perfection.
Annie: What do you mean? Why is it so hard to figure out everyone’s names? There are 7 Jakes, 7 Ryans, 7 Williams, and so on, so if you happen to have a calculator and a yearbook, you’ll calculate a 17% probability of sitting next to someone with one of the top ten most common names in our grade. You might think you’re the one misplaced pea in the bowl of white rice, but let’s face it, you might find more similarities to each other than differences. We all faced US history, whether it was AP or regular, but at least we all know what happened in 1776 and in 2017.
Alli: Sure we all took US History, but the degree to which these classes burned us was extremely different for everyone. For some, like our very own Carson Weller, a scalding hot tea is the best way to start off the morning. However, this is not the ideal temperature for everyone and it takes quite a few spit-takes to get it right. High school is a time to figure out that magic balance between school work and a social life and musical rehearsals and soccer practice. High school is about signing up for too many AP classes, or maybe not enough. It’s an opportunity to make mistakes and get a taste of both the piping hot and the lukewarm; it’s a chance to underestimate yourself, and overestimate yourself, until you find your perfect temperature.
Annie: I think I’m starting to see this whole coffee drink metaphor. We can’t always be clumps of rice forever. If you look microscopically, each grain of rice has its own unique characteristic. That speckle of brown might be someone’s freckle. When it’s about time like right now as we’re all graduating, each grain of rice will leave our small Prairie Ridge bowl and disperse into the much large bowl of the world, going on our own individual journeys.
Alli: I have to say, I’m starting to warm up to the idea of the student body being one united group. Although we had singers, athletes, musicians and comedians…and more comedians on the stage at our PRAC talent show, they were all able to step to the same beat for their group performance. With every arm movement and swing of the hips perfectly in sync, the audience was given a taste of how well the different ingredients at PR complement one another to create our unanimous signature drink.
Annie: Maybe high school was whatever we each made of it. It’s a paradox. It was a bowl of rice. It was a cup of Starbucks. It all depends on what you were craving that day.
Alli: Make your future satisfy your own appetite for life, whether it’s pizza, strawberries or chocolate cake. Don’t lose sight of your own individuality.
Annie: While you join another bowl of rice whether it’s college or another path you’re pursuing next year. But at the same time, don’t be afraid to jump around to different bowls every once in awhile.
Alli: So, I think it’s settled, right?
Annie: Yeah, but can we just agree that college is macaroni and cheese?
Alli: Yeah right, we both know that college is ramen noodles.