Good afternoon! I am happy to see all of you here today as we prepare to part ways with the Class of 2016, soon to be graduates of Hudson High School! I have been involved in enough Commencement exercises to know and understand that for our graduates, your primary interest in today is just getting on with it! You are ready to move away from the formality of this ceremony to the celebration. I am with you! Enjoy today and those that follow. It is a very happy occasion indeed!
It has been our great joy to watch your blossom over the years, sharing in your accomplishments and guiding you during this part of your educational journey. We have witnessed your successes in the classroom, beamed with pride at your grit in athletic competition, and were inspired by your performances in music. All of these milestones have led you to this day; this day when you leave here as a proud graduate of Hudson High school, joining the ranks of alumni.
Each year it is my honor to be among the first to congratulate you on your graduation from high school. You deserve it, because it took a lot of hard work and commitment to get to this day. We are quite proud of you because the diploma you will be receiving in a few moments is not a gift; it is what you have earned and is owed to you, and it is one of the key ingredients needed for a good life. Without it, you would not be able to fulfill your destiny. So congratulations! But be warned, you will need more than this simple piece of paper in the days that follow.
I can remember sitting at my own high school graduation, thrilled with the prospect of college and all that comes with it! Here you are, 18 years old eagerly looking to a future yet to be written with diploma in hand. You have big dreams and no doubt are preordained to do great things. However, I can also remember on that day I celebrated so long ago believing that I had all the answers and what awaited me next would come with relative ease. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Undoubtedly, things worked out very well for me. Yet if the 18 year old me were told that one day I would be standing here talking to you I could not have imagined it. Your life will be filled with many unexpected turns, ups and downs, highs and lows. You will face roadblocks and be told ‘no’ from time to time. But if you apply what you have learned here you will find your path. Who knows, one of you may be standing here, one day addressing the Class of 2041.
Nevertheless, we are anxious to see what comes next for you. Will it be college? The work-force? Military? An apprenticeship? Any of these are noble decisions and yours to make. Each comes with its own recipe, their own path, and ingredients for success. But make no mistake: regardless of what road you choose to follow, your educational journey is by no means over. If you are going to work tomorrow, I promise that on the job training awaits you and will be a necessity in order to successfully navigate the work place. If you are joining the military, after basic training you can look forward to ‘A’ school. Those who are planning an apprenticeship should know that you won’t become a journeyman overnight. Many of you are headed off to college, some to a two year program and others four year program. The commonality among each is that all of you face an exciting journey.
But here is the beautiful thing: with diploma in hand you are ready for that next step, the step that begins today!
Believe me, it has not been easy to arrive at this moment in time—we have made sure of that, and have done so by design. Because all the classes, the homework, the tests quizzes and competitions: were part of our plan. Our plan to get you ready for this day and those that follow. Our plan to send you off to whatever awaits you.
We have not made it easy because we know what awaits you will at times be difficult. You will face challenges and life may at times seem unfair. There may come a time when you think that ultimate goal is just out of your grasp—and you may believe that it is impossible. If and when that time comes I ask you to persevere. Do not give up! Remember what you have learned here, within these walls. You are a Pirate; a Problem Solver; an Internal Assets Builder! Candidates for graduation, if you remember these things—you will succeed!