10 am on August 2nd is not a normal time nor date for a High School graduation, but then it is 2020. Today was Medway High Schools’ turn. Incredible young adults, getting some closure to a chapter that had some extra pages. I am giving the rest of this space to the President of the Class of 2020, Sam Mckeown who I have had the privilege to get to know over the last couple of years. Here is his address to his fellow graduates, which he sent to me when I asked to share. It was delivered beautifully and the note to himself at the end I left it, for it might simply be the most perfect sentence to wrap of this year. Congratulations Class of 2020.
Well… This is it, I guess? –
First of all, I think it’s important to acknowledge that this is not a normal graduation, nor a normal year. None of us could have guessed we’d be graduating in August instead of June, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic. But here we are.
It’s also important to acknowledge that we lost something — that there are things we’d looked forward to for years that did not happen how we’d imagined them, if at all.
And it’s important to be okay with being sad, or upset, or angry, or really anything else over this very real loss.
I’ve tried to be optimistic and look on the bright side – I know I’ll try to be for the sake of this speech – but I haven’t always been able to keep it light. Just a warning in case this all goes south…
That being said, there definitely are a few things we can hope to take away from all this.
Our current reality has exposed societal issues we face, from Friends of Medway, to across our entire nation.
For instance, that government – in all its levels and forms – is important, and that poor governance can literally be life and death. So, in a generation where it is too easy – and often understandable – to feel apathetic; Please. Register. To. Vote.
Our current circumstances have exposed systemic issues of racism, inequality, and police violence, to voting being far too difficult, and Karens being way too aggressive towards essential workers. So shoutout to all the essential workers here today, including and especially our teachers, who don’t simply get days off, whether we’re in person or online.
Now, these are all very real and important issues, and our acknowledgment of and reaction to them will come to define our lives. I don’t have the solutions, I don’t think any-one person does, but at the very least we need to open our eyes to them. –
I also know we have each learned a lot personally in the past few months.
We have seen that we can be extremely adaptable, and grow to meet a changing world.
We’ve experienced the importance of personal connection, be it virtual, or face-to-face.
We’ve further realized the importance of the families and support structures that have aided us non-stop for the past eighteen years;
allowing us to fully thank them for everything they have done before we move onto our next phase of life, and to know how to build these structures of our own.
So, thanks, mom and dad.
And we’ve seen the importance of the friendships we’ve forged – be it your closest group, or the kids you talked to once a day at the start of each French class – in order to truly appreciate them before we separate.
Another thing I have thought a lot about recently has been nostalgia.
As some of you know, I’m a super nostalgic person. But, to be honest, I’ve been worried that we won’t be able to look back upon high school through those rose-colored glasses due to everything that has happened in the world around us.
It’s a weird thought, I know, to be worried about how I will remember this moment years off in the future, but I just can’t shake it.
But I really do think we’ll look back on all this fondly.
For one, I look back on elementary and middle school warmly, even though many of you bullied me, like, a lot.
I remember constantly feeling horrible for years, but when I look back, it’s mostly positive things that I remember, at least at the surface level, which I hope will translate to our current reality.
And even more than that, I think that the shared nature of all this makes this a unique opportunity for reflection. Every person, and especially every member of the Class of 2020, will have gone through similar circumstances.
And in that regard, I hope that this all ends up being something that brings us together, as a class, a community, and even something larger, to move forward into our world.
So thank you, class of 2020, and everyone else who brought us here.
And now, please welcome to the stage, Medway School Committee Chair, Mrs. Susan Dietrich.
Wipe down the podium