Cousins Chris Detz and Emily Detz were the student speakers at graduation last night. Here is the text of their speech.
Welcome! Here we stand, presenting one of thousands of commencement speeches being delivered across the United States during this busy graduation season. If we were to take a poll of those of you seated in the audience, how many of you can honestly recall who gave your commencement speech, let alone what this person or persons talked about? This was the daunting task set before us this evening: Make sure you know and address your audience-thegraduates, our peers, classmates-and make sure your message is meaningful.
Where do we begin?
First, let’s take a closer look at the word commencement. Per Merriam-Webster.com, commencement means “an act, an instance or time for commencing or beginning; a ceremony or the day for conferring diplomas.” So we say to you, our fellow classmates, what exactly are you about to commence?
What new beginning are you about to embark upon? What are you about to set in motion?
One word we have heard often these past few years is “motivation.” We have been told repeatedly to “be motivated get motivated, motivate yourself.” Have you ever thought about what this word means or its origins? Once again, we defer to Merriam-Webster.com for the exact definition. Motivation is defined “as the act or process of motivating; the condition of being motivated; to motivate means “to provide (someone) with a motive for doing something; to stimulate (someone’s) interest in or enthusiasm for doing something.” What has motivated us so far to get to this night, this commencement, this new beginning? It is said that there are only two emotions, and all others arise from these: Love and Fear. Which of these has moved you the most, propelled you to this graduation? From this point forward, which of these two emotions will motivate you? Will you react to life out of fear, or will you be proactive and be moved by love? What are your motives for going to college? What has prompted you to enlist in the armed forces, or enter the work force? You need to carefully reflect on your decisions, and make certain these decisions are the best for you. Be sure your motives are not reactionary, or based upon perceived, imagined fears. Move forward on each and every endeavor with the best of intentions, with your goals always aligned with what is best for you.
Never compromise on your beliefs-to settle for less is to sell yourself short.
Know that there will be roadblocks, hurdles, circumstances that will throw you off kilter, slow down your forward momentum. The key to surmounting these times when they happen (and happen they will) is to keep a sharp, laser-like focus on your goal. Never waiver, never succumb to fear. As we leave here this evening, we will all begin to scatter in various directions. Whatever you do, never stop asking questions! Never accept or conform to anything just because others say its “true.” Find your own truth; look deep inside of yourself and get to know the person you spend the most time with-YOU!
This evening as we pay one last visit to this auditorium, we entered as students, leave as graduates-as so many have done before us. You might sit there and say to yourself “So what???” And that is what we ask you now-So what…is next? Will you take a path that has already been well-worn and traveled by so many others; or will you choose one that is overgrown with uncertainty, challenges and change? YOU have to decide which route YOU will take-and it is our sincerest wish for all of you that you choose a path that best suits YOU.
If it seems as if we are posing a multitude of questions to you, it is done on purpose. We have been asking ourselves many of the same questions about what lies before us, what awaits us outside the confines of this school; we know that many of you have been asking yourselves these very same questions.
Tonight is a time for reflection as well as expectation. As we take one last brief glance over the past six years here on The Hill, let’s remember some of the highlights, and what these events have taught us: The construction and renovations, our senior class trip to Philadelphia and Go Vertical, post-prom at Ozzy’s, dissecting with Mrs. Ohrel, the softball teams best record in school history. These are just a few of the events that have united us as a class, and it is these and many other occasions that will forever bind us as the class of 2011. These events have helped us learn more about each other and ourselves; for it is through working and socializing, making friends and putting aside differences that we gain a greater understanding of the world, learn empathy and compassion for others as well as ourselves. It is safe to say that much of what we gleaned these past six years was not limited to the classroom; the larger part of our education came from interaction and introspection.
In parting, we want to wish every member of the class of 2011 nothing but the best. Although we all have our own paths and journeys to embark upon, we will always have that one important, constant bond: Our ties to Columbia High School and each other. We now leave you with these words of wisdom from the author Mark Victor Hansen: You control your destiny, your future. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put
your future in good hands-your own.