This essay was written by Aaron Cantrell, a high school classmate. I liked what he wrote for the speech and asked if I could have a copy. It is reproduced with his permission.
The world is not yet exhausted; show me something tomorrow which I have never seen before. Samuel L. Johnson feal an incessant curiosity for the mysterious, a passionate desire to discover, and an instatiable love of knowledge. This, with one qualification, rightly typifies a scholar. You see, a scholar must as well possess the motivation and determination to satisfy each and every question of truth which enters his mind. He must open his books; he must question his mentors; he must examine himself.
Benjamin Franklin, an undoubtedly scholarly man, once wrote,
Genius without education is like silver in the mine. And to complement, a quote from a contemporary,
Education only exists to the extent of self-education. Meaning, you can only be taught what you teach yourself. Yes, school has been instruction, it has been discipline, correction. Your teachers have provided examples of character, the location of resources, and friendship. But nowhere along this line did a teacher educate you. Your teachers can only do their best to provide a broad set of resources to make self-education as simple as possible. Note that I do not say easy, painless, or unproblematic. Self-education is a challenge. Yet, you, the present and future leaders of this school, are called to the challenge.
And now you have been given this opportunity to further develop your motivation, to grow and learn within a group of others also dedicated to learning, and to lead the rest of your class in an exemplary manner to that invaluable zenith scholarship. By no means is scholarship most valuable of the four National Honor Society characteristics, but it is indispensable.
A love of learning must be fostered, cultivated: sown and reaped. Befriend a local library. Start a journal. Ask your favorite teachers about their favorite books. Read them. Question convention. Be sensitive to truth. Become an artist. Write when it is not an assignment. Of all things, these will open your eyes and expand your horizons. Opportunity lies through those doors. Only through a commitment to the abstract, a dedication to self-enlightenment, and the love of knowledge will you unfailingly see something tomorrow never seen by you, your peers, or perhaps the world.