Hey everyone- just wanted to give a big thank you to all that have offered any amount of support to me this week. I spoke at commencement tonight, and right now I’m not in the state to reflect on it, so I decided to let you read over my speech for a few days until I can.
To the Kickapoo Class of 2016: It was an honor to commemorate the past four years for you. Thank you for your sweet words, your hugs, and (for some) your tears. Looking at your faces as I shared my speech is something I will never forget.
Here it is:
Right now I’m sure so many thoughts are racing through each and every head in this room. Some of you are probably wondering where in the world your family is in this crowd, others are probably thinking about whether or not their tassel is on the right side or if their cap looks weird on their head, and some, if you’re like me, are probably brainstorming Instagram captions for the graduation pictures they’re going to post later. But I’m going to ask you to try and push those million thoughts to the back of your head for one minute, and consider this question: Are you going to remember high school? I’m not just talking about the big moments, like winning a state championship, or your senior spring break trip, or the Friday nights you spent huddled together at the football field. No, I’m talking about the in-between moments. I’m talking about that early May afternoon freshman year when you ran to the window during second block because it was snowing. In May! Two weeks before school got out! I’m talking about how tight your chest and how heavy your breathing became when you made the mad dash from the back 40 at 7:47 AM to try and avoid sweeps, which, by the way, was almost never worth the effort. I’m talking about the moment you’d show up at the library center after school to work on a research paper, and once you got there you’d realize that your entire grammar and comp. class had the exact same idea. I’m talking about the pact we all silently made to haze the OfficialSPS twitter account whenever there was even the slightest chance of snow in the forecast. I’m talking about all of the illegal parking spots we created this year, the smell of burning food wafting from the FACS hallway at 9 in the morning, and the purple chief time stamps that took about 5 vigorous hand-washings to finally remove. I’m talking about those group chats that we all probably still have on our phones that are filled with answers to homework and complaints about how, “THIS CLASS IS GOING TO KILL ME!” I’m talking about that empty feeling you felt on your last Pasta Tuesday, and the inside jokes you had with your favorite teachers, and how it felt to put on your Kickapoo ID for the very last time. Well, let’s be honest here, we only put them on if we were walking past Steinhaus’ room. I’m taking about the forgotten essays that you wrote when you were 14 years old, getting mud in your mouth at the senior mud fight, and how the temperature in the building could drop 20 degrees just in the time it took to walk to your next class. I’m talking about how sad you were while zipping your prom dress back up in its bag, or returning your rented tux after that night you’ll never forget. I’m talking about how you probably looked at yourself wearing your cap and gown in the mirror before you came here this evening and felt a pang in your chest because it finally hit you. This is it. This moment, right now, in this room, is the very last time this class will be together as one. After we leave this room tonight we all begin our own journey. We will go new places, meet new people, and create some new in-between, and easily forgotten, moments. One day our time at Kickapoo High School will be a distant memory, but right now it’s the biggest memory we have. All of the little moments that you experienced in your time here add up to your own unique high school story. So I want you to do your very best to preserve it. It’s a story you’re not going to want to forget. So, now that you’ve taken a moment to stop and reflect, I hope that you have conjured up a memory from the past four years, whether it be a trial or a triumph, that will always stick with you. Because as Stephen Chbosky once wrote in his script for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “I know there are people who say all these things don’t happen. And there are people who forget what it’s like to be 16 when they turn 17. I know these will all be stories someday. And our pictures will become old photographs. We’ll all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now these moments are not stories. This is happening.” It is happening, Class of 2016. Take it all in. Congratulations.