HMHS Graduation Speech: Thomas Twitchell
"We have proven ourselves, and so we shall continue to prove ourselves..."
Remember now these past four years. Remember every late night and each early morning. Remember the small obstacles you stepped over and the large challenges you broke through. Remember your eyes blurred with tears as you stumbled and your throat erupted With laughter as you recovered and kept moving.
It is because you chose to do what is difficult that your friends, family, and educators gathered here today. Because, as momentous as today feels, June 19th, 2012 is by itself meaningless. The important thing about today is not Where we are now but the effort spent reaching this stage. This day is lent power and value by what it represents - a culmination of nineteen years spent learning about our world, preparing to enter it.
When you mount the stage behind me in a few minutes to accept your diplomas, you will join the approximately 72% of senior-aged high school students graduating in America, and that deserves recognition. We have successfully navigated the trials of high school. The path was Wrought with pitfalls and obstacles, but we stood firm, held our ground, and as proof, here we are today.
This success, while no trifle, is only the beginning. Fortune smiled on us, as have grown up in Haddonfield, a town Where the ingredients of dedicated educators, involved families, and nurturing friends mixed to form the perfect concoction for success. Most of us have lead lives free from Worry about the roofs over our heads or from where our next meal would come. We have been given every opportunity to explore our interests, and for this reason, greatness is expected of us, and we intend to deliver.
And while each of us may define our past and future successes in different ways, all successes will be related in that they will be cumulative events and we will have worked for them. The test you aced or failed; the shot you made or missed; the friendship you forged or shattered; each has influenced your path leading to this point and the successes of your future. And each success, or, for that matter, each failure, is composed of a thousand tiny acts, completed each day.
Habits are the building blocks of success, and these blocks stack up over time to create something beautiful, but Work is required. Success without Work is simply not success at all. But do not mistake success for happiness. You might be happy if you win the lottery, but you will not be successful. It is a hard world we will enter, and sacrifices will be made. This reality means that no one can guarantee you happiness, as no one has yet perfected joy’s formula. The only certainty is that if you Work hard, you will find success, even as it emerges from the most unexpected of places.
Everyone seeks success, and our audience here today confirms that. We are our parents, our families’, our friends’ and our educators’ success stories. They are proud of themselves for bringing us here, just as they are proud of us for reaching it, and we should be proud of them, just as we are proud of ourselves. Pride is a beautiful thing.
In 2011 it was estimated that it cost an average of $234,900 to raise a child in America, excluding college costs. Those people in the stands have invested so much time, energy, and resources in your education, expecting nothing in return. Parenthood by itself is a terrible economic concept. No investor puts a quarter of a million dollars into a stock, knowing that he will get nothing back. The value then is intangible. The value is their pride in taking responsibility for our growth up until now. Sometimes in life, we receive unclear signals.
Uncertainties plague us, and we wonder which the correct path to tread is. The good news is, this is not one of those moments. The signal is obvious. We have an entire day to mark the occasion. Haddonfield and the audience before you brought us to the precipice, but now it is our turn to make the leap of faith.
Within this town, we have made our mark, but now we go forth to make our mark on the rest of the world. Our high school graduation represents our assumption of responsibility both for ourselves and for others. Now is the time for us to assume the mantle. This mantle takes many different fonns, and it is heavy, and it Will drag us off course and cause us to stumble, but have faith and endure. Goodness defines badness as opposites define each other. Even though you Will often be left to shoulder the mantle alone, only by Walking your path alone can you appreciate the strength friends lend you.
Responsibility is a burden best borne with others. We have endured hardships, but the intensity of our labors has made the joys of our efforts all the sweeter. Only through failure have we come to appreciate the solemnity and power of the success graduation represents. We have proven ourselves, and so we shall continue to prove ourselves long after we leave this stage. No one is prouder than I to stand beside you all and graduate on this day with you.
Visit Haddonfield Patch's graduation page for more on the Class of 2012.