While visiting Indiana with Brennan High School’s wind ensemble, Jordan Rider learned the end of her senior year could look drastically different than she and her classmates initially expected. Rider’s high school experience was marked by her memories in the band, and this unanticipated twist was no different.

Rider was with her bandmates when school officials announced spring break would be extended, the first sign of the coming period of remote learning. The three-and-a-half years preceding this announcement were also full of band memories – Rider joined her freshman year, was a flute section leader two years later, and as a senior, she served as an assistant drum major.

But now, she wants to change up her hobbies. When Rider attends the University of North Texas next fall as a mechanical engineering major, she doesn’t anticipate getting involved in music.

“I’ve been in band for many years and I’m ready to start looking for other hobbies,” Rider said. “I’ve always been an introverted kind of person and I’m looking forward to having my own space and being able to make decisions on my own, make my own food, walk around campus, and explore downtown. It’s not something I get to do often.”

Rider and her classmates will graduate the week of June 15, each crossing the stage on campus individually. A video crew will film the event and stitch together a video with all graduates.

Below is her graduation speech.

Remember when “2020 vision” was the cleverest slogan for our class, when we had no idea what the future was going to bring? Good times. When valedictorians say that senior year was unforgettable, it sounds cheesy or cliche, but I can honestly say that this year was one for the history books.

We watched as event after event was canceled or postponed beyond our senior year. We entered a time of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. We moved learning from classrooms to bedrooms, but we made it to today. Sure, there were days when getting out of bed seemed impossible and days when the hardest person to face was in the mirror. But there were also days when, against all odds, we continued forward and persevered. 

If there is any lesson you take with you from senior year, let it be that you can overcome uncertainty. Take with you the knowledge that you can win and the wisdom that success may not be immediate but it will be definite if you set your mind to it. Whether you are going into the military, joining the workforce, or attending college, know that you are capable of achieving your ambitions. 

We didn’t get the typical senior experience, but that doesn’t mean our senior year was without its fair share of memorable moments. Whether the highlight of your senior year was a competition, a meet, a game, a performance, a presentation, or just a day spent with friends, cherish it. Keep those memories close and never forget what it feels like to be young and happy. Yes, it is important to embrace the bad times but it’s equally important to revel in the good. 

Take a moment to appreciate the people who helped you get to this point of your life and every friend you’ve ever made at Brennan. We may be going in so many separate directions, but at one point in our lives, we all walked the same halls. We all have a little Brennan Fight within us. And as we all know, Brennan Fight Never Dies.

Jordan Rider

Jordan Rider is Brennan High School's 2020 valedictorian.