Good afternoon Class of 2018! Along with the Board of Directors; I would like to congratulate you. Parents, grandparents and other distinguished guests, welcome to the Hudson Community School District. This is a very exciting day for our seniors. This annual rite of passage known as commencement is one that we are honored to celebrate with these students as they look back with finality on these formative years; and look forward to a future that is yet to be written.
Students: In a little less than an hour from now you will exit this gymnasium as graduates of Hudson High School, thus earning the title of alumni. Take a moment to look around at those assembled here this afternoon. A lot of people; friends and family alike have taken time out of their lives to be here with you today and to celebrate this awesome achievement.
|The Class of 2018 lines up for their 'This is It' Moment|
There certainly has been a lot to celebrate. You have had a remarkable year. The fact is, you have had a distinguished tenure as students at Hudson High School. Without a doubt you have left an indelible mark on this school system that has secured a legacy others will inspire to live up to generations from now. Along the way we have cheered you on. For those who love you most, it has been the thrill of a lifetime to watch you grow, become stronger, self-assured, and confident. Then finally, seeing you reach this day—and hopefully not recognizing this moment in time as the apex of your journey; but the beginning—a benchmark if you will. Nevertheless, I expect there will be tears from many in this room when you cross this stage in a few minutes because albeit the beginning of a new and exciting chapter of your lives it also marks an ending.
At the beginning of this school year I asked our faculty and staff to consider their legacy. I posed this question not as a self-check of personalized vanity but as a reflection on the lasting impressions they have on each of you. My hope is that these impressions and lessons will stick with you for years to come and that you remember fondly these experiences at Hudson High School.
While the time you have spent here with us will be warmly remembered, what of your legacy beyond Hudson High School? It may be thought provoking to consider the answer to that question from the vantage point of your future. It is both fair and expected that you consider the ‘where you go from here’ question as a short term problem to solve. For example, many of you are thinking about the graduation party you will attend this afternoon. Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that most of you are relatively certain where and how you will spend the next several years. Furthermore, I’ll admittedly concede that you even have thought about your plans following this next brief interlude in your lives. Of this I am convinced, since I enjoyed reading your reflections in the Hudson Herald. What intrigues me most about these ‘words of wisdom’ if you will, is this question posed in these personal narratives: Where do you see yourself in 20 years? Your answers have been both normal and customary: career, family, and a house with a white picket fence enjoying life. However, as my last request to you, I would encourage a more deliberate and reflective response to this question. Don’t worry; this won’t be on the test, because your time for taking tests is over!
Certainly your answer to this question is both conciliatory and with merit. You have checked all the boxes that will set you on a path of reaching that what we have come to describe as the American Dream. I can promise you: all of us gathered here today have those same hopes and aspirations for you. But what else? Now that you have metaphorically checked all the boxes is there anything further to yearn for? Allow me to pose this to you: Where do you see yourself in 50 years?
From that perspective those hopes and dreams that you previously worked so hard to achieve would now be 30 years in the rear view mirror. Hopefully with that realization you would come to understand there is much more to life than checking those boxes. Allow me to paint a picture. Consider, for example a scenario where you are sitting in this very gymnasium 50 years from now and your grandson or granddaughter is preparing to cross this stage. Approaching 68 years old, you will be at, or very close to retirement. So perhaps to properly frame the question, it may relevant to think about that future child, that grandson or daughter that is now sitting right here, where you once sat so very long ago.
To wrap your minds around such a long time span, think about those who are gathered here today for you. Parents. Grandparents. Teachers. Consider anyone really who has nurtured you, put a band aid on your knee when you fell off your bicycle, or stuck the gold star on the refrigerator when you finished cleaning your room.
Granted, we now have the benefit of hindsight and certainly didn’t have the fortitude or vision to realize so long ago that our future, our 30, 40, or even 50 years ago: Was you. You see, Class of 2018 you are the best version of us. You are our legacy. Our wish was and is that you succeed where we didn’t. That you live in a world that is a little bit kinder, cleaner, and peaceful.
So when you are sitting out here, in the audience 50 years from now I promise you too will be looking at your own legacy. Those tears that will flow in a few moments are a testament to that.