As students at Robert E. Lee High School prepare to walk off the stage and toward the next leg in their journey, the school’s valedictorian hopes they’ll take some time to slow down and enjoy the journey.

Lee valedictorian Jonathan Graham said he hopes to use his graduation speech to encourage classmates to be courageous and stand up for what they believe in.

He hopes to address overlooked issues and encourage his peers to not let things slide when the going gets tough.

Graham hopes that younger students will remember that while grades are important, it is just as important to embrace their high school experience. With an almost completely new facility under construction, future students at Lee will be able to write new chapters in the school’s history.

When a concussion left him sidelined on the soccer team for the rest of the season, he took the opportunity to dive into more volunteer work.

Graham helped launch the Senior Study Buddy program, going back to his old elementary school, Andy Woods, to mentor younger students.

He’s also planning to take some time to stay grounded before heading to Washington College to study environmental science in the fall.

Graham will take after his father and uncle, teaching sailing lessons in Wisconsin over the summer.

Unlike past trips, he’ll be on this journey alone. He said he’s going solo because he wants an opportunity to better know himself before beginning the chapter in his life.

“I have a mantra, ‘Know yourself before you get to know other people,’” he said. “Hopefully that will happen.”

Salutatorian Ethan Barton will be headed to Baylor University as a University Scholar, studying business, mathematics, Spanish and philosophy.

Friday evening the two will be joined by more than 480 of their classmates as the class of 2019 takes their bow.

TWITTER: @TMT_Cory 

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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