Abilene ISD was proud to celebrate the Cooper High School Class of 2024 during a graduation ceremony Saturday, May 25 at 8 p.m. at Shotwell Stadium. Congratulations, congraduates!

Click here to view and download high resolution images from the ceremony.

Continue reading for speeches from Valedictorian Noelle Mathis and Salutatorian Logan Hamilton.

Valedictorian Speech

Good evening, class of 2024! It is my privilege to be standing here as the valedictorian (or “valid-victorian” if you’re Mrs. Morales), but I didn’t get here on my own. I want to thank the many teachers I’ve had all these years; you have made learning a joy and have been a constant source of support. I’d like to thank the friends, church members, and mentors who have built lasting relationships with me and encouraged me always. Thank you to Student Council for being my people; the lessons I learned about how to build community and love people well will stick with me for the rest of my life. So will the snail…thanks, Pogue. I want to thank my family for being my biggest support; I’d be lost without your Godly wisdom and your unconditional love. Mom and Dad, it has been a blessing to grow up as your daughter. And finally, I’d like to thank God for having a plan for my life that far surpasses anything I could’ve imagined. It is His plan that has led me to this stage today, and I hope I am able to glorify Him with these words.

There are a host of things that I could say right now that would be common for a commencement speech. I could say things like, “pursue your dreams”, “don’t change yourself to fit the world’s standards”, or “do what makes you happy”.  While none of those statements are inherently problematic, I challenge you to consider what our world would look like if it was full of people who only ever pursued their dreams, did what made them happy, or were consumed with being who they wanted to be. As good as it sounds from the outside, it doesn’t take much thought to realize that the world would be left in a heap of hurt if we lived as humans who were only concerned with ourselves. So tonight, I want to challenge you to consider what it means to live a life in service to others.

The greatest privilege of my high school experience hasn’t been any grade I’ve gotten, award I’ve won, or reputation I’ve built. Instead, truthfully, it has been getting to serve alongside the rest of Student Council through Table20 and the Chinle Project. Student Council taught me how to practically apply the lesson I’ve been taught by my parents since I can remember that comes from Philippians 2:3-4 – “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” That is the challenge I want to leave with you tonight. From serving my Navahomies in Arizona to giving a bunch of y’all the gift you didn’t think you needed – trash can cereal – to packing up and delivering Christmas boxes, I have been taught so well how to tangibly make a difference in the lives of others by choosing to see their needs as more significant than my own. I am not saying that this is easy- it’s not at all how we’re wired. However, it’s the manner in which we are told to live, and the life lived in selfless service for a higher purpose is the flourishing life. The Bible says in Mark 10:45 “for even Jesus came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” The meaningful life is the one that is lived for the good of those around us, one that causes us to not hold quite as high a view of ourselves as we think we should. In my short life, I have seen those statements prove themselves true, and I know people who have lived a lot…like a lot…longer than me who would tell you the same thing (okay, Pogue, I was talking about you…) So, as you move on from Cooper or Abilene or Texas even, I encourage you to think about ways you can start living for a greater purpose than just to fulfill your interests and see your dreams come true. Maybe you haven’t lived your life with this mindset yet – don’t be discouraged! Start now and begin to open your eyes to the brokenness around us that you can help heal. If you are living this way, hear my encouragement to continue! Press on! And spur others in your sphere along to live lives characterized by a love for service that leads to the benefit of those around us. It is only when we are living in that way that we will find true fulfillment and meaning in our lives. So make your life count! Live for a purpose greater than yourself. Turns out that serving others may be the biggest blessing you didn’t know you needed.

Congratulations, class of 2024! Thanks and Gig ‘em!

Salutatorian Speech

Good evening, I am the 2024 salutatorian, Logan Hamilton.

At the beginning of elementary school when we first moved away from picture books, I refused to read. I absolutely hated it. Every time I would accidentally read the same line twice or stumble across a word I didn’t know how to pronounce or I didn’t know the meaning of, I would get super down on myself, frustrated with my slow progress. I think many of us have shared that same experience in one way or another. Something you thought should be easy for you, but just didn’t come naturally. But that’s the thing: sometimes the accomplishments that are pressured on us by whatever force, be it society, family, or peers, aren’t necessarily our God-given talents. Clearly I can read now, but I’m still not the fastest, and nor do I enjoy it very much. But I, and many others of us who have faced some kind of road block, are still here accomplishing great things academically or elsewhere in other areas. We’re a stadium full of accomplished graduates ready to set out on our next chapters in life. All of us with our own set of useful skills that will serve our communities and professional fields. We all bring some kind of value to the world. Some of us with academic or philosophical inclinations, talents in music, a trade, architectural skills, engineering, math, courage to fight for and honor our country, or medicine. I’m even willing to bet at least one of us will be an accomplished author someday of a book my children may love reading…or maybe not, but again, there’s nothing wrong with that.

As we think about taking our natural strengths into our adult lives, there is something I think we should all keep in mind: “if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”. I’m not sure if my parents just ironically repeated platitudes to me growing up or if they really meant for them to be something that stuck with me, but nonetheless I find this one true, and it’s something I’ve always taken into account when thinking about my future profession. Considering a profession which both incorporates your strengths and values, as well as brings enjoyment to your life is the best way of ensuring you “never work a day In your life”.

Here is to finding enjoyment in our strengths for the betterment of our world. Congratulations class of 2024!