Khani Priest

Khani Priest SanPoil and Arrow Lakes, age 17, is from Washington .Khani is passionate about supporting her friends. I wanted to share my graduation speech:

Hello good morning, my name is Khani Priest. I am SanPoil and Arrow Lakes. My mom is Khristy Covington. My dad is Monte Priest. My maternal grandpa is Leo Covington. My maternal grandma is Marilyn Denise Covington. My paternal grandpa is Tex Priest. My paternal grandma is Donna Jane. Before I began, are there any kids here who live on the reservation? Lets hear you. Good, now I want to dedicate my speech to you all. So listen carefully.

My life has been full of struggles; since I was born to the present. I have experienced the effects of alcohol on a family. I have experienced the effects of drug abuse on a family. I have survived the violent yelling matches and fights between parents. I was raised by only my mother after age eight. I grew up living in four different houses in four different areas.

I started at Lake Roosevelt High school my ninth grade year. Before that I went to Omak Middle School, and I went to Paschal Sherman Indian School for my elementary years. I went through one of my biggest challenges so far when I lost my grandma towards the end of my eighth grade year and I was never the same. She was my best friend and my greatest role model. My ninth grade year was tough. I was suffering from depression and had no one to lean on. I came really close to committing suicide. I then lost my dad in August of 2017, right before my senior year began. I know many of you including my fellow classmates have faced similar challenges. I am reaching out to all of you today, and I am going to try and make you understand that life is worth living. Your education is worth striving for. Life will get better; the trial will pass, and you will come out on top. I know this from experience. I can assure you, you are not alone. Reach out to me, your family, or friends. Share your story with one person; one single person can make a difference in your life. Know that you're not as weak or timid as you might think. You have had the, strength to survive this long, there is no use to throw that precious time away. You are loved by someone and you have the strength and courage to face all your challenges. We, as Native Americans and young people, are made to persevere.

I am talking to you not only as salutatorian of my class, but also as a Native American student who has carved her own path. Everyone up here, behind me today has gone or is going through their own trials. We are still here, which means we are still fighting. We will continue to fight until we succeed. I, along with the rest of this class, will show you youngsters how it's done and we will set the example and prove anything is possible. I challenge all of you to face down your trials and walk/run/jog your path courageously. I will also leave you with a secret; you are not alone. You have people encouraging you from the sidelines, whether you know it or not and I will be· the first to admit, I am cheering you on.

Thank you for listening. And thank you for coming to celebrate our milestone with us today. Limlimt.

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