Class of 2019, we have made it! On behalf of all of us, I would like to extend a thank you to everyone who has played a role in making each of us who we are today.
I am sure we haven’t always been the the easiest to love, and probably haven’t remembered to say “Thank you” half the time we should have, but know that even though we are in the spotlight this evening, each of us greatly appreciates all that others have done to help us get to this point.
I’d like to ask each of you to picture a track, perhaps even a newly built school track. Every member of our class is here, each wearing an orange and black uniform identifying us as a member of Palmyra High School’s class of 2019. Some of us are wearing our sports uniforms, others our club shirts or jackets, and others carrying a backpack of books or a band instrument, but all of us representing what has been our passion for the past few years.
Already on the track are members of rival schools, each sporting their respective school colors and all boasting of winning this upcoming race.
Rules of the race are simple. Every person in the class must run, runners must stay in their respective lanes, the baton must be handed off to the next person without dropping it, and the first team across the finish line wins. From the first person to the last, we cheer and encourage each other until the last one of us crosses the finish line signaling that collectively, we the PHS class of 2019 are winners over our rival opponents.
Perhaps our accomplishments, GPA’s, knowledge learned and friendships are best illustrated with the above example as they provide proof of the power of teamwork and supporting each other with our success.
As we sit here as high school seniors for a few short minutes longer, I would ask you to imagine returning one more time to that same track, only this time we are returning as high school graduates and competing in a very different race.
As we approach the track, we notice it is much more difficult to identify teams as no one is wearing similar uniforms, the track doesn’t have any painted lanes, and cracks and hurdles cover the ground creating great obstacles, making it difficult to determine where the finish line is even located.
Our opponents are not as easy to identify either as no one is wearing a uniform, some even resemble our younger self, yet we take our place on the track among the others.
The race starts and while we are focused on winning, we’re immediately faced with many choices we hadn’t expected. Do we take the shortcut giving us an unfair advantage? Do we stop and help the elderly lady who has been knocked down by the crowd? Do we hear our competitor’s words of discouragement louder than our own confidence? Do we offer our water bottle to someone who lost theirs along the way? Do we stay so focused on avoiding the holes and cracks in the ground that we end up wandering aimlessly? Do we have trouble recognizing the finish line because it is nothing more than another starting line?
However each of us chooses to run this race, I hope that instead of focusing solely on winning, we consider the golden rule with our choices, and that is to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
While it is important to learn the Pythagorian Theorem and how to write a paper in correct MLA format, perhaps the most important life lessons though were those taught in kindergarten: how to share with others, listen to instructions, play fair, apologize when we hurt somebody, don’t take things that aren’t ours, be curious, and know how to say goodbye.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget to clean up after ourselves, wash our hands, and please flush the toilet.
While this goodbye might be painful, I hope we all know that if the time comes in our own race, we do always have each other to fall back upon if ever needed.
In closing, rather than say goodbye, I’d like to borrow Jason Aldean’s words from one of his songs, “See you when I see you Another place, some other time If I ever get down your way Or you’re ever up around mine just stop by We’ll laugh about the old days And catch up with the new Yeah see you when I see you, ‘til then my prayers are with you”..
Class of 2019, congratulations and the best of luck.