A bittersweet goodbye

Graduation at the Ranch

A bittersweet goodbye

As she graduated from Dakota Memorial School in May 2022, Stacy used her graduation speech to address current and future Ranch residents. Her words speak for themselves.

"I was so blessed to come to Dakota Memorial School back in 2020. I really want to show the upcoming kids that go to this school, how to love the school, and how to appreciate the school.

This day isn't just about me. It's also about the people who got me here. Without them, I wouldn't be here talking to you today. We need help even if we don't think we need it. We need help during the hard times just like we need air to breathe. If you don't get help, it will make things much more difficult. [At the Ranch], you will always have someone that cares about you. I say that because I do. The staff here does, the teachers and you, your peers. Even when you're going through a rough time, remember that someone cares. Even though at the moment, when your brain bully tells you you have no one, you have someone.

I know that someday you are going to be happy again. Jesus is watching over you. It may seem that He is not watching, but He is. You are capable of whatever the problem is. You can overcome it. I believe in you because Jesus is trying to make you stronger.

I promised myself that I'm gonna keep going. I got this far, and that means I can keep on going through anything that the world throws at me.

You can too. I believe in you.

Saying goodbye to DMS is hard. I have a family here that I will never forget. Even though I had moments where I wasn't the greatest version of myself, this place got me through my worst times. I didn't even see the light through the tunnel. [The Ranch] was my light through the tunnel and it can be yours too.

The people here helped me get through the dark thoughts and my past too. As Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, also my favorite superhero said, "I don't judge people on their worst mistakes." Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch was my Natasha Romanoff. They didn't judge me on my worst mistakes. They were there to hold my hand during the worst times. They showed me that I can make mistakes and move on from them. They showed me how to learn from them.

One of my mistakes was not realizing what I already had. It's funny, my whole life, I used to think that I didn't have any family. It turns out I have two.

When I was just a kid, I had no understanding of family. I had no siblings, I had no parents until an amazing family took me as their own. I also have the Ranch family. You have been with me through my roughest times. Let's give both of my families a round of applause!

I'm really happy to be here today. I was told I would never make it this far in my life. I was told I wouldn't graduate from high school. I wish those people were here today to see that I proved them wrong. Sometimes we have to choose between what the world wants us to be and who we really are.

"Struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose," said Chadwick Bozeman, the actor who plays Black Panther. Yes. Another Marvel superhero.

If I didn't go through the bad, I wouldn't have become the person I am today. Remember that pain only makes you stronger.

It is going to be hard not coming to school every day. It is my happy place, safe place, and my personality place. This is the end, but I will keep this legacy of the school. The legacy of the school is helping others to succeed. I will help others to not make the same mistakes that I did and help them get through it.

This family won't be forgotten. I thank everyone here for supporting me through it all. Thank you for the best years of my life."

This article was originally published in Ranch Voice: Summer 2022.

Read more stories like this and explore other issues of Ranch Voice here.

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