Well fellow graduates, we’re here. We finally made it. To celebrate we were granted a beautiful day, an outside ceremony, decorated caps, and even yard signs! Who could’ve seen that coming? It’s been a long time preparing, but we’re ready. To put it in perspective, here’s what happened twelve years ago in May of 2008. Marvel released the first Iron Man movie, Usain Bolt became a legend when he broke the 100m world record, and we finished kindergarten. The radio on the bus home was probably playing “I kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry or “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay. Now that Iron Man has saved the world 11 times and sacrificed himself in the snap, that really seems like ages ago. But then again, it feels like just yesterday we were getting so close to beating the M&M’s math game in fourth grade. Anyway, it’s happening. We’re graduating.
Here’s some words to think about. We’re in the last scene of the second act, the last minute of the game, and the final stretch before the finish line. Coach Kuhnke would tell us in his football pregame speeches to take a minute and look around the field. Look at the people who came to support you, your teammates, the lights, everything and soak it up. After you get your diploma today, you’ve been handed a memory of the hard work you’ve put in up to now and you are officially an alumni. So, look around and soak up the moment. Remember the teachers who pushed you to learn, the community members that donated to our fundraisers, and everyone around you right now. The value they placed on you is priceless. You can move away, but the small town that raised you will always be there. Don’t forget what that means to you and how that has impacted your life. To our parents, staff, and community- thank you! You have shown us the path to be generous, care for one another, and all the other small town attributes that we can proudly take along with us as small town alumni.
Graduates, the path that they have paved for us is now in our control. Whether you are going to college or entering the workforce or undecided, apply yourself everyday. Do something challenging, learn new things, and make someone’s day. Life will be more rewarding if you do. You may not need to do trigonometry, but you will have to tackle problems. You may not have to ask if you can go to the bathroom, but you might have to ask if a law is just for everybody. Likewise, it only takes a little effort to do something good for the world or to brighten somebody’s day. We all need a smile or a laugh once in a while especially when things get tough. Be that coworker, that friend, and that person people want to be around. If we all do these actions our world will already be better off. So, apply your skills and learn new ones, speak up when you feel it is necessary, and be a light to everyone around you.
The path won’t be smooth or flat. There will be bumps and hills that must be traversed. Don’t let the worry they cause overtake your life. You will overcome it if you are patient and confront the issue, but no matter what, keep moving forward. There’s not enough time in the day to spend it spinning in circles. Be open to change. Listen to that person who has a different viewpoint and respect their opinions as well as share yours. Make connections with people from different cultures, religions, and orientations to broaden your personal outlook on life. Everyone has something new to offer and we can learn from those around us to be better informed citizens. So, don’t give up when the path gets hard. Face it head on and find a solution. Learn from what makes each of us different and explore somebody else’s ideas. It will expand your ways of thinking and how you see the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is it! There’s no more waiting. It may seem like everything is about endings right now, but it’s really about beginnings. Your path is up to you now. What direction will you take it? Remember the past and do good in the future. Keep in touch with your roots no matter where you go so you don’t wander. We have accomplished great things up to this point, and it’s time to take the next step. The moment is now. Soak it up! Congratulations class of 2020.