Wilton graduation speech: “Make sure relationships come first”

Rishabh Raniwala, co-valedictorian of Wilton High School’s Class of 2020.

Rishabh Raniwala, co-valedictorian of Wilton High School’s Class of 2020.

Wilton senior Rishabh Raniwala gave two speeches for Wilton High School’s 2020 graduation celebration on June 13, the class opening speech, and a speech as co-valedictorian. This is his speech as co-valedictorian.

Make sure relationships come first

This year, I have the rare opportunity to speak to all of you twice at graduation. In remembering the moment when I was told the news about being co-valedictorian, two specifics come to mind. First, even though it was 10 a.m. on a Thursday, I was still in bed when Dr. O’Donnell called — I mean, we’ve all been getting up late during quarantine, haven’t we?

Naturally, I took the call while still under my covers because I just really didn’t want to give that comfort up for another hour or so. Second, I remember feeling jubilant and thinking, “Hey, it’s nice to have four years of work pay off like this.”

But what I remember most about that jubilation is how fleeting it was. It’s the same with athletics, the same with any type of achievement or award or material accomplishment — the feeling is great while it lasts, but it fades pretty quickly. And once it fades, yes, the memory will always be there, but it won’t ever be vivid enough to inspire true happiness.

And that’s what we live life for, right? For true happiness? At least, I think so. I think that’s what life should be about.

So, if true happiness doesn’t come from accomplishments and achievements, where does it come from? It comes from relationships. The relationships we build with our brothers, our sisters, our parents, our friends, our mentors, and anyone else who impacts our lives in a meaningful way.

Happiness comes from the memories we build and the emotions we share from those relationships. It comes from supporting those relationships and being supported by those relationships.

The pressurized environment that Wilton creates, where everyone has to have good grades, get good test scores, do a million extracurriculars, and get into the best colleges, definitely made it hard to prioritize those relationships and that happiness. But in order to live the fullest life, I think relationships are exactly what need to be prioritized.

Going forward, we have so many opportunities to make new relationships. Whether it be classmates we meet and bond with in college, coworkers that hopefully give us the same amount of laughs as “The Office,” or families of our own that we start later on, happiness from relationships is a fountain that never stops flowing. With all my 18 years of wisdom, I think the best advice that I can offer is to make sure those relationships come first.

And with that, I leave you all with this: It has been an amazing four years with all of you. I am so excited to see what all of you do in the future because this truly has been the most talented, special, and resilient class to ever come out of Wilton High School. Congratulations!