Ben Arneberg's valedictorian speech

Friday, June 6, 2008
Chi-Hi High School
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

"Dust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind."

Now those lyrics from Kansas' song are probably the last thing you expected to hear or wanted to hear on Graduation Day. "Come on, Arnebus!", you might be thinking to yourself right now. "That's way too deep and depressing for today! Just hurry up and say your cliches so I can get my diploma."

But today IS our graduation. We now have the rest of our lives in front of us, so let's make sure we're living for the right reasons.

Take it from King Solomon, the richest man and wisest man on Earth, who puts things in perspective. He was in agreement with the band Kansas when he said "I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless -- like chasing the wind."

This man had everything in life, and yet he still said everything is meaningless! So if everything is meaningless, what's the point of living? The answer to that, I believe, lies in the ancient scriptures of Jeremiah: "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Each and every one of us has a purpose! And finding that purpose, my fellow classmates, is the key to a happy, fulfilling life. As Author Rick Warren says, "You may choose your career, your spouse, your hobbies, and many other parts of your life, but you don't get to choose your purpose." We now just need to find it.

A major part of our life's purpose lies in our work. Most of us will one day have a career, beginning this Monday for some of us, or perhaps ten years down the road for others. But I challenge you to not just run the rat race, working a job and only looking forward to the weekends and retirement. Find a career that challenges you, and gives you satisfaction. Don't make it your job, make it your calling. This in turn will lead to a more fulfilling, enjoyable life, and will lead you to your life's purpose. But one note of caution--when you do begin your career, follow the advice of Vince Lombardi: "If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired--with enthusiasm."

Finding your career calling and your life's purpose will give you hope, satisfaction, and a reason to live. And most of all, it will mean you are no longer only "dust in the wind."

On behalf of all of us graduating students, I would like to thank the awesome staff and administration we have here at Chi-Hi--thanks for making it a memorable four years! And to all the parents, thank you for putting up with us and shaping us into who we are today. Finally, I would like to thank God for all He has done in my life--without Him I would be nothing.

Thank you and God bless.