I’d like to start by offering a sincere congratulations to every graduate in the Powell High School Class of 2020. Each of us has overcome so many obstacles to be here today. Our hard work and …
I’d like to start by offering a sincere congratulations to every graduate in the Powell High School Class of 2020. Each of us has overcome so many obstacles to be here today. Our hard work and dedication has paid off, and now here we stand.
If you are here as the parent of a graduate, you also deserve recognition. You’ve been there since day one, and you are a major reason that they are here today. Your contribution as a parent should not go unmentioned. If you’re here as the sibling of a graduate, I am truly sorry. I’m sure you’d rather be anywhere else. But at least you don’t have to give a speech.
It would be an understatement to say that much has changed in the past three months. Three months ago you may have been looking forward to the spring sports season. Three months ago you had the “luxury” of actually being able to attend classes in person. Three months ago life was normal, and if I had to guess, most of us took that for granted. I know I certainly did. In hindsight, that was foolish.
The pandemic has reminded all of us that we need to appreciate what we have while we have it. This virus has taken from each of us in different ways, but I am thankful to be here with all of you today as we celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2020. I want to encourage you to be grateful for what we have even if it isn’t all that you hoped or imagined it would be.
I know every valedictorian says this, but our class is truly special. Ask our teachers, and our coaches, and our parents (ignore the obvious bias), and they will tell you that the PHS Class of 2020 really is a unique and talented group. And we’re going to have to put those talents to good use, because we face a world far different from those who came before us. We face a tremendous amount of uncertainty, but I am confident we will adapt to these times. They say hard times make strong people, and if there’s any truth to that, there’s about to be a surplus of strong people.
The most important lesson we need to learn from this situation is how to be resilient. I can’t promise you much, but I can promise you one thing: This is not the last, or maybe even the greatest, obstacle you will ever encounter. I know this isn’t exactly “inspiring,” but you will likely run into a plethora of problems throughout your life. Some will be big, some will be small and all of them will make you stronger and smarter. If that doesn’t give you confidence just remember: If you can survive a global pandemic that forces you to be alone with your family for more than two months, you can survive most anything.
Seniors, some of you may be thinking of graduating high school as an ending, and in some ways, you are correct. But I encourage each of you to think differently. Think of this as merely the end of the beginning. We’ve reached the time in our lives where we finally get to make our own decisions and chart our own course.
I know it can be scary to look to the future. You know just as well as I do that the future is uncertain by nature, and that is doubly true in these strange times. But there’s a hidden beauty in the uncertainty of the future. Your future is never set in stone. Your future is malleable. Your future is flexible.
Do what it takes to shape your future into what you want it to be.
(Jay Cox gave this speech as the valedictorian for Powell High School’s Class of 2020.)