Parents, friends, family, academic adjudicators, distinguished guest extended-relatives-who-are-desperately-trying-to-sneak-a-glance-at-their-phone-to-ease-their-incessant-boredom, welcome, to the commencement ceremony of the Class of 2018. It is an honor to stand before you and deliver this speech. I hope that you will all find it as stimulating and uplifting as I did when I was writing it. I totally didn’t procrastinate this until last night.
As the traditional commencement speech goes, I would first state a quotation I found off of a Goodreads list, congratulate all the future surgeons, lawyers, and general world-changers in the audience, and then make a long list of thank you’s that sound about as interesting as a bottle of Nyquil does.
As you can probably tell from the tone of these last two paragraphs, I am not going to do that. Because, as much as I’d like to extol the virtues of making a difference or finding happiness or creating a legacy, I don’t feel I’m qualified to do that. After all, I’m only graduating high school now. Some of the people in our class aren’t even 18 yet.
So who are we to lecture you about inspirational merits of ambition or failure? Because even though we’ve all had our share of ambitious attempts and eye-gougingly awkward failures, some I’d especially like to forget, we really don’t know what it's like in the real world. And so, I figured that I would rather talk to you about something I do know. I’m going to talk to you about high school.
Contrary to what most of you probably think, high school is not about learning how to do algebra and analyze the “significance” of Shakespeare. Well, I guess it is, but, that’s not what high school is truly about. High school teaches us beyond the textbook.
Yeah, I know, its cheesy. For example, because of high school, I know how to get up at six in the morning even though it's dark enough outside to be two. Because of high school, I know how absurd the human memory can be, that I can remember exactly how many pet banks there were in the 1830’s U.S but can’t recall the basic steps to find x. The answer, by the way, is 347, the number of pet banks, not what x equals. Heaven forbid I actually try and remember a grocery list.
In all seriousness though, a textbook couldn’t hold all the lessons I’ve been taught here. This school has taught us all about how to be responsible adults, from using time management skills to developing analytical thinking techniques, and figuring out how to be a productive member of society, well, as productive as high schoolers can get.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that we are far, far from maturity. There’s still a host of milestones we haven’t reached; a multitude of experiences we haven’t had. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be the person I am now without high school. None of us would be.
So, as we all part ways for whatever destiny we may create, I’d like everyone to take a moment and reflect on what we’ve learned. And I’d like everyone to keep learning. As horrible as it sounds, the spirit of high school needs to be kept alive, so that we will always continue learning. As much as we’d like to forget it, SHS will always be a part of us.
High school is definitely a turbulent experience, however, as of today, we’ve all learned so much and made so much progress, all, without too much damage. We’ve survived numerous tests, all-nighters, gym pacers (which, for those of you who do not know, are another name for cardio-induced torture), SAT’s, ACT’s, AP’s, and other tests that end with “E” and make me want to scream, and emerged as better people ready to take on the world. So as we step out of this building, I am sure that everyone in this class has grown infinitely. Now we can finally use the skills SHS has taught us to change the world.
So, Class of 18, I wish you luck in all your endeavors. Enjoy life, make progress, but most of all, never stop learning. Thank you.
This piece was presented as a speech in Victoria Reed's Public Speaking Class