It is always a joy to meet young people whose spirit and vision for the future are inspiring and compelling. Today I want to introduce you to just such a young woman: Annabelle Palmer.
My friend Coe Sherrard, owner of The Woodstock Café and Shoppes, pulled me aside recently to share an excerpt from the valedictory address Annabelle had given to her Central High School classmates during their graduation ceremony. He and I both agree it deserves a wider audience. As he gave it to me, he said, “If there is even one young person in a thousand who shares Annabelle's commitment and passion, there is hope for our country and our world.” I agree, and thankfully, I believe there are many.
Regardless of your age, I hope you'll take up Annabelle's challenge to make a difference with your time here on earth and leave a legacy of service and commitment—the hallmarks of a Heartspoken life, for sure! Please share…
Excerpt from Valedictory Address
by Annabelle Palmer, Valedictorian
Central High School, Class of 2018
Leaders who serve
…As we move on, whatever our plans may be, we must continue to be leaders who serve others. People need us—not just in Woodstock or Shenandoah County—they need us to care everywhere! We need to serve not just to feel better about ourselves, but to help others find happiness as well. I'm talking about going beyond occasional volunteer work. I mean always serving others over ourselves.
More than careers
We need to passionately pursue our goals, not just jobs, and we need to dedicate our careers to making a positive difference in our world. Opportunities exist to serve in any occupation we may choose, and, while not losing sight of the ambitions created during high school, we must focus on more than just income and personal achievement.
What will your legacy be?
Our legacy doesn't stop here; if we continue to dedicate ourselves to helping others, we will positively impact the world. And our impact will not be defined by our awards…it will be defined by our actions and our character. As we move forward, I challenge each of you to join me in asking, “Who am I going to be and what will my legacy be?” We have tremendous opportunities awaiting us outside of these doors. What we do with these opportunities are entirely up to us.
Annabelle Palmer is a recent graduate and valedictorian of Central High School in Woodstock, Virginia. She also recently graduated from Massanutten Regional Governor's School for Environmental Sciences and Technology. During her senior year, she was an intern for the Woodstock Wastewater Treatment Plant where she conducted a cost analysis for a potential upgrade for the filtration system at the facility. She volunteers with the Woodstock Rotary Club, which continues to inspire her to serve others through creative and innovative ways. At Central High School, she served as the National Honor Society President and was an executive leader for the Interact Club, clubs that emphasize serving others. She currently is employed at the Woodstock Café and Shoppes and plans to study engineering at Virginia Tech in the fall, while embracing Tech's motto Ut Prosim — “That I may serve.”