Graduation Speech

Like I said last week, I have to give half of a graduation speech this year, as the last task of four consecutive years of co-advising the Class of 2011.  And I was told by the other half of the equation that I would be writing the whole thing.  So here it is.  It’s not the most amazing thing ever, but I think it’s alright.  Short and to the point, and full of platitudes and tautological truisms.  Like any good graduation speech.

Before we begin, we would like to extend a hale and hearty welcome to the family, friends, teachers, administration and members of the Board of Education, who join us here today to recognize the achievement of the Class of 2011. 

As co-advisors we find ourselves with the fortunate opportunity to take a few moments and offer some words to mark this occasion, which is probably the most significant moment to this point in the lives of the students seated here today.  It is not an opportunity that we take lightly. 

Here then, are a collection of loosely affiliated thoughts that we hope will serve you well as you reflect on all that you have accomplished, and look to what’s to come:

Brief Notes to the Class of 2011 on the Occasion of Their High School Graduation

Live your life.  The only guarantee that we are given is that there are no guarantees.  The only constant is change.

Remember that there is only one Earth, and they aren’t making any more of them.  Humans are needy creatures prone to forgetting just how needy they are.

Take fullest advantage of what you have.  You enter the adult world as members of the most advanced society in the world at the moment of greatest human achievement.  Act like it.

Experience as much as you can with the time that you have.  The world is an incomprehensibly large place full of more ways of living than you can imagine.  Until you know something of the lives of others, you cannot expect to understand them. 

Do not allow high school to be the high water mark of your lives.  There is so much left to see and do and know.  This is not the end, but just the beginning.

Understand that you will be judged largely by the content of your character, and that precious little is given to you unearned.  Reasons are okay, excuses are not.

It is okay to not know what you want to do just yet.  You are allowed to change your mind.  Just make sure that you do it for the right reasons.

Whatever issues you may have with those who sit with you today, in the grand scheme of things they are petty and useless.  Grudges are a burden.  To be truly human is to forgive.  Family and friendship are the greatest comfort afforded to us.

Recognize that for all of our supposed differences, it is our common humanity that binds us together.  Do not trust those who would tell you otherwise.

The color, gender, politics, religion, and age of the people that you love are insignificant.  What is important is that you love them truly, and tell them as much often. 

So, that’s it.  Take or leave these thoughts as you see fit.  But understand that they come from a place of love and caring, from two folks who have had the singular pleasure of watching you grow during the past four years.  We thank you for that privilege.

Though before we leave, one last word of advice.  At some point tonight find a moment to thank your parents, family, and all those who have cared for you during your journey through adolescence.  It is no hyperbole to say that without their love and support you would not be sitting here today, about to embark on the greatest adventure that life has to offer you.

Thank you very much.


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